I realized something last night. There is something that makes me more frustrated and angry than anything else, and that something is racism. I know, there are already tons of people who have written about this issue, and there are countless different rallies and causes combating racism, so my voice is not all that meaningful here. But-I really hate it! I hate it because I have come to realize a horrible, terrible truth. It truly is everywhere. Racism has permeated our culture so deeply that it is hardly recognizable. Almost every good person I know is racist.
The terrible part is, I get it. I understand why people turn on the racism so quickly, and often don’t even know that they are doing it. One of my volunteers recently returned from picking up a group of people from the airport, and he told me that he had been made a little racist by the experience. I think he thought expressing this was simply honesty. He thought he was simply recognizing a truth that another culture IS obnoxious, or rude, or whatever. I hear such things all the time. In particular, I encounter racism against Indians, and people from the middle east. People will start ranting about how Indian people are so rude, or so greedy, or so…whatever. And then, they say these exact words: “it’s their culture”. That tiny little phrase is used as if it somehow eliminates the racism aspect. It is as if to say, I don’t dislike you because of your skin, I dislike you because of your culture. I think people view culture as something that is chosen by each individual. Here’s a news flash: you didn’t choose the country you were born in. People do not choose their culture, they exist in it, and they must find a way to survive within it. Condemning another culture is just as putrid as racism-no, that is the wrong way to say it; condemning culture is racism.
I think what bothers me the most about the whole thing is the arrogance of it all. People will assert that another culture simply does not know how to interact with others, or they refuse to be integrated into our culture. But should we be surprised? Are we truly proud of the culture that we have developed in the west? I am constantly reading articles about the regret that we all have of the direction that we have taken. We are self-centred and egotistical; we are materialistic and greedy; and we are individualistic and have virtually lost any form of respect for family and community values. Why would anyone simply give in and embrace that? What is more, can we really be upset at people who do not simply dive into our culture, when we consider our own colonial past? When westerners began to move into North America and Africa, did we embrace the culture that already existed in those places? No, of course not-we forced them to comply with our culture!
I am not one to spread white guilt all over the place. I wrote a paper during my graduate studies that asserted that Affirmative Action has dire consequences on all members of society, and I think cultures can become stunted if white guilt is used as an excuse not to move forward. But, it is one thing to not go around lamenting and apologizing for the sins of people who are long dead-it is another thing entirely to perpetuate those sins, and sustain a level of arrogance that Narcissus would gladly embrace. Next time you see a person from another culture doing something you don’t like, do not jump to blaming their culture. At least give the individual the
dignity to be blamed for their own actions, and judge them based on who they are, not where they come from. And remind yourself of all the terrible things that you have done, and that your culture does all the time. I give you Justin Bieber, Rob
Ford (I’m Canadian), and Miley Cyrus. Not to mention the sexuality that is everywhere in our society-the ultimate drug of the western world. Anyway, I know of no particularly good way to end this rant, so…thanks for listening.