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Combatting Racism

(Part 2 of "People' Knew Their Place'")

First off, there are some distinct differences between race, ethnicity, and nationality. Race focuses on physical traits; ethnicity centers around a cultural factors such as background, language, religion, or geographical origins; nationality is tied to legal citizenship.

Let me be absolutely clear on this: I seriously do not care about any of them.

However, since people usually need a point of reference, I will lump a belief in any or all of them under one term: racism.

"The city crouches, steaming in the early morning half-light. The sun is still a rumor and the night is still a threat. Slipping through the dark streets and the echoes and the shadows, something stirs behind me and my palms begin to sweat."

Racism is a disease based out of fear. Fear is probably one of the most basic of human emotions, and one that people both know the most and least about. As a famous movie character once said, "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." I suspect that a bulk of psychological research would argue that racism (and all of its varied cousins) is situational, not permanent; that it's a disease that anyone can catch, and even if it goes away for a time, it can return with a vengeance to virulent effect.

What's dangerous is the belief that nice people cannot catch these urges when the sad truth is that almost any social behavior starts to feel okay when people get the message that such behavior is "the norm". One major problem right now is that it's difficult to tell what the true "norms" are because the plurality of the messaging is fake.

"The menace threatens, closing, and I'm frozen in the shadows. I'm not prepared to run away and I'm not prepared to fight. I can't stand to reason or surrender to a reflex. I will trust my instincts or surrender to my fright."

Racism is the plague of our modern society. The best metaphor for the psychology of racism in the American culture is that it's not a physical trait, like someone's eye color, but rather a plague not unlike that which struck Europe in the late 1300's, and the "rats" carrying this plague are social media propaganda and messages cooked up by "fleas" (people and internet bots) that 'hate is normal'. Some outlets even propose a distorted reasoning that it's best for everyone to just wait and see, to be accepting of racism, to "just comply". Not only is this simply terrible advice, but it also implies that nothing can be done about it; that everything is always okay. Neither conclusion is true, and we all have to make clear that racism is not normal and should not be accepted or acceptable. This plague could easily come and wipe all of us out, so we have to protect ourselves against it with both defensive messaging (i.e., positive messaging about tolerance) and messaging on the offensive (i.e., protesting intolerance).

"Coiled for the spring or caught like a creature in the headlights, into a desperate panic or a tempest of blind fury, like a cornered beast or a conquering hero."

Racism can be stopped. It seems to me that we, as Americans (and no doubt others), believe that education is the "fix" for all such evils. But it also seems to me that even really good education does not automatically fix the evils in a person's heart and mind, attitudes, or beliefs. Yes, people can change; they often don't like to - or want to - because there is no guarantee that the change will be for the better, but we have to hope that it will.

"Sometimes we freeze until the light comes. Sometimes we're wrong and sometimes we're right. Sometimes we fight against the darkness. Sometimes we fly into the night."

We learn combat tactics in the Marines, and we're very good at it; "improvise, adapt, and overcome" is a key mantra. Change, it is said, has to have action, and so this cure for our plague requires action on our part to counteract the pervasive fleas and scurrying rats that infest our social media outlets, otherwise they will take advantage of our inaction to spread their infection. We need to fight against those who have been infected by it, some of whom may be our family and friends. We (you and I) need to psychologically combat racism by supporting the people who are trying to do exactly that - combat it - with the understanding that it might take a lot of tactical support to affect a societal cure.

Racism is a disease, and we need to treat it as such.


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