How to Knock Down the Wall of Bigotry and Hate
“Bigotry really isn’t sensible, neither ethnically nor academically. We really have no choice but to roll up our sleeves and get to work trying to break down barriers, foster mutual respect and compassion, and strive to eliminate oppression, discrimination, injustice and violence.”
This morning, I came across an article titled “We Must Hold People Accountable for Their Bigotry”. The article was about an event that happened back in May, where a Sikh man who was riding a Grey Hound bus in Texas was reported and arrested for supposedly acting ‘suspicious’.
It was later found out that the man who called the police did so because the Sikh man was speaking in ‘Arabic’.
After being held in custody for 30 hours, the man was released and found innocent of all charges. His only charge was being brown, foreign, and speaking a foreign language as he was profiled based on his religious and racial identity.
Both the police and the man that reported the Sikh man had no justification for their actions except ignorance fueled by fear.
This false accusation is nothing but pure ignorance, racism, and bigotry in the flesh. Cases like this happen all the time in our country. Unfortunately, the rate at which they happen is bound to increase following this past election.
Across the country, there has been an increase in hate crimes and hate speech targeting ethnic and minority communities. The increase can be directly contributed to the xenophobic rhetoric that has encompassed the political climate.
The story of the Sikh man can be and is duplicated daily by every other ethnic minority in this country. It is the young black male who is racially profiled because he fit the ‘stereotype’ or is walking with a hoodie and skittles. It is the Hispanic American, a naturally born citizen, but gets asked for their papers because of their brown skin.
The different examples can go on and on. When these things happen it sends a message that discrimination is the norm and is okay. The consequence is severe as it isn’t the American way and doesn’t progress or unify the nation.
Bigotry & Racism: A Trip Back in Time
Before the 60’s, prejudice was normality across the country and around the globe. A direct correlation to the plights of colonialism, a race-based slave trade, and the lack of human rights for all those non-white; along with many other forms of exploitation.
Since colonialism in the 16th century, racism has “become affirmative action for whites”. Racism has been used to justify structural superiority based on biological or cultural differences while placing a negative value on those differences. This has justified and legitimatized the harsh and cruel treatment of other groups seen as inferior.
At its heart, all forms of racism such as bigotry, prejudice, and discrimination are fueled by the concept and quest of power.
Civilizations throughout history have been plagued by the problems that arise from prejudice and bigotry towards each other. Bigotry, that for no other reason ascends from ethnic and cultural differences.
At its definition, bigotry is a “self-centered belief in isolation from perceived threats” which derives from the ignorance and fear of different cultures and lifestyles. Bigotry is also intolerance towards those who hold different ideas and values.
Prejudice and bigotry often arise when one group feels threatened by their perceived loss of power. Therein results in forms of institutional and individual racism where social, economic, and political models are restructured to retain such power.
A Changing World
As the country embraces change in the form of multiculturalism and equality, today’s bigot and racist hope to recreate the normality of prejudice that once was.
It’s the progress of the groups that were once discriminated against, and in modern days successful in resisting the bigots ‘project of prejudice’ that makes it even more frustrating for the bigot.
“Modernity liberated the powers of humanity…This is very different from the bigot’s assumption that biology or anatomy is destiny. Modernity relies on the growth of science, technology and instrumental rationality”.
They have a resentment of intellectuals and scientists, which stems from envy, an argument made by Nietzsche. The bigot and racist seem to foster hate for all things intellectual that are a threat to their sense of being. They seem to hate things, people, or institutions that can and will challenge their perception of superiority.
As a consequence, they label the educated as elites and discredit all things science.
There is a grave consequence of encouraging and delegitimizing science, facts, and education. But the bigot and racist view these things as a threat to their power because they discredit the bigot’s perceived notions.
The growth of science and education is fostered in an open society and liberal culture that tolerates the questioning of authority. However, the bigot is always concerned with proving right what he already thinks he knows and has no use for the advancement of science and its critiques.
The Bigot: Superiority, Entitlement, and Privilege
Even though no evidence is proven to justify eugenics or the connection between biology and accomplishment, the bigot uses genetics to explain intelligence.
This justification is false and is born out of a sense of self-worth that is greater than others. This sense of superiority has lead to violence and destruction at the plight of those who are “less than”.
The bigot has justified his entitlement simply due to birth and the inherited privileges that come from being born within a biological group. The entitlement and superiority is not due to his or her work. Ironic that this superiority and entitlement has nothing to do with hard work and hasn’t been earned, as the bigot views those that are less than as lazy and entitled.
The self-interest of the bigot is at his core. He likes when his interests are being served, such as the exploitation of people of color. But yet, he doesn’t like when he feels disadvantaged.
As hatred is found in those that lack motivation, the bigot only likes the idea of competition when it serves him or when he is on top. When competition doesn’t work in his favor, he will imply that the competition is ‘cheating’ as a biological trait of their ethnicity.
Fear is another root of bigotry. This is because bigotry is a result of the fear of losing power and privilege. When that fear arises, the bigot goes into victim mode while using his or her prejudice to blame their loss on those of other groups.
They fear that the rise of globalism and multiculturalism is contributing to the destruction of their so-called social privileges and self-worth.
“Jews conspire against him in ruling Wall st, immigrants take away his jobs, affirmative action undermines his prospects, and unions and welfare programs have made his country soft”.
The changes in society brought along by capitalism have contributed to the bigot falling behind in a global society. They want to resist any change, which will result in their loss of power and privilege.
“The bigot’s world is small. There is nothing to learn, little sense of adventure, and less of possibility”.
Overcoming Bigotry, Racism, and Discrimination
Bigotry is a constant threat to basic human rights. A strategy to rid the world of bigotry is through education, interaction, and legislation. All efforts that aim at eliminating bigotry must bring to attention each aspect.
As a society, we must foster educational and humanitarian efforts to provide justice and restore the necessity of human rights for all cultures across the globe.
In today’s modern era of globalization and digital media and communications, it is fundamental to understand different ethnic cultures and religions as interactions with these other groups are almost impossible to avoid.
Barriers of stereotypes must be broken down and bridges of dialogue and cooperation must be built in replacement as the only way to beat racism and bigotry is through cultural training.
Nonetheless, the basis on how American society is structured and the result of hundred of years of segregation, most White Americans have no conceptual idea of the life experience of minority communities.
The norms of separation and segregation have prevented different ethnic groups from interacting with one another in meaningful ways. The ignorance that arises from this lack of interaction more often than not is going to result in attitudes of prejudice.
Let’s March and Love Together
“Studies do show that when groups come together on an equal basis, in a non-competitive environment, prejudice is definitely reduced”.
The Civil Rights era, MLK’s Million Man March, and other forms of protest and acts of unification are a testament to this. Most recently, yesterday’s Women’s Rights Marches that happened around the globe was an act of unity of all races, sexes, and cultures.
However, the only true way to heal race relations and fight bigotry, prejudice, and discrimination is a transformation of the heart. The heart is home to our emotions and feelings. Individuals of all cultures and races must undergo an internal paradigm shift of love in order to forward progressive equality.
As Gandhi famously said, “live the change you wish to see in the world”. We must all take on changes of the heart and also on a character level. As character based change is simply implementing change because to do so otherwise is unjust.
Character based change comes from an understanding of genuine justice, that you empower and implement justice because you recognize situations of injustice for what they are. Not that you have to be told to do so.
Compassion and Unity
The opposite of racism is compassion. For change to come to fruition it requires both compassion and self-love. It is impossible to create a caring society without compassion.
But yet, in order to be fully compassionate, there has to be a sense of spirituality. Only through spirituality (note, not religion but spirituality) do we find a sense of interconnectedness. Only through spirituality do we figure out that we are all one and the same.
Spirituality enables a sense of belonging with each other, with the divine, and self. We obtain a sense of purpose. Whereas, racism and bigotry usually arises as a result of disconnect. Compassion brings us together. It is the bond of human spirit, the one human family.
“Love your neighbor as yourself”. A famous saying by Jesus and translated means how I feel about myself is how I will feel about others. An individual’s behavior is reflective of his or her self-worth. As racism and bigotry tells more about an individual than it does towards the group whom they despise.
It indicates that bigot or racist individual has no sense of who he or she is, nor do they love themselves. As….