There Is No Cure To Racism, But We Can Fight Back By Accepting People, Not Stereotypes

There Is No Cure To Racism, But We Can Fight Back By Accepting People, Not Stereotypes

Fight back with knowledge of others: look beyond skin color, listen to someone's story, and understand where they're coming from.

We are all the same underneath. The same flesh and bones, the same heart beating fast and true, but our eyes remain deceived by our colorful appearances. But even if we were all raised in a loving, un-exclusive environment, we would still be racist. How? Because our brains would choose to associate with those who share our features, with who we naturally feel most comfortable with. That by itself is not wrong, but to purposefully treat someone differently because of that melanin difference is inappropriate and unacceptable. This fallacy has led to war and bloodshed, and now, it is masked by impoliteness and tension within our already fragile community.

Even as I lived in a world of harsh words and terrible acts of violence, I have always remained immune to racism. Though I am Indian, I have had many trustworthy and compassionate friends who belong to various races. During elementary lunch, I would sit with my Latina friend Laura during my art class, I would paint flowers with my African American friend Janaya during math class, I would complete questions with my Caucasian friend Riley, and during recess, I would play kickball with my Asian friend Steven. I knew each person looked different, but at that young age, the urge to befriend new people overpowered my ability to create a biased racial hierarchy.

But as I grew older, the racist remarks started burrowing into my head. Apparently, Asians always excel in math, and the Hispanics did not care about their education. But all these racial stereotypes contradicted what I have seen throughout my childhood. The Hispanic friend I had, Laura? She was the most hardworking girl I have ever seen —always the first to complete her work and eager to ask questions in class. My Asian friend, Steven? Though he was not a genius at math, he constantly pushed himself in athletics and was the school star at track and field. I started wondering why people would want to generalize a population by providing erroneous rumors, but I never received a solid answer. To this day, I still do not have my answer.

The worst part about our society is that even if an individual is bold enough to defy their race's stereotypes, s/he is still harassed for it. Sharon Chung, author of "Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World," understands this issue better than anyone. Her half black, half Asian friend had been accused of stealing a clock because that person had "looked like a thief." I've had African American friends who perform well in a class but are told that "they are not fooling anyone" and that "no matter how hard they work, they are still unintelligent." So then, is our world a trap? Is it our fate to be bullied for being inferior than others and then bullied again for acting differently than those who share our skin color? How is this fair?

How is it fair that hundreds of men like Walter Scott are killed every week by white policemen just because they "appeared to be disobedient?" How is it fair that every woman with a hijab is seen to be a terrorist just because they follow the same religion that Muslim extremists falsely claim to be members of? How is it fair that a Hispanic man is seen to be more likely to cheat you out of your money than a Caucasian man is?

There is no time machine to go back into the past and erase years of hatred and ignorance. There is no magical cure-all for racism. There is only us, and our insistence on moving forward by forging respectful relationships with everyone, no matter their outward appearance. Skin color does not dictate our financial status, our place on the universal social hierarchy, or our intellectual capacity — therefore, broad stereotyping of a race should not occur. You can only judge people individually, and even if they have some major flaws, do not attribute those flaws to their race. Though our race definitely impacts our behavior, we each develop our own identities.

We have numerous problems to solve in order to make this a safer place for future generations. We must fight terrorism, global warming and widespread hunger. If we are divided among ourselves, then we cannot fight with a strong, united front. So be wise, and accept people for what they are and not what you assume them to be, because we have bigger problems to solve.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash / Omar Lopez

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.


Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Saying You "Don't Take Political Stances" IS A Political Stance

All you're doing by saying this is revealing your privilege to not care politically, and here's why that's a problem.


I'm sure all of us know at least one person who refuses to engage in political discussions - sure, you can make the argument that there is a time and a place to bring up the political happenings of our world today, but you can't possibly ignore it all the time. You bring up the last ridiculous tweet our president sent or you try to discuss your feelings on the new reproductive regulation bills that are rising throughout the states, and they find any excuse to dip out as quickly as possible. They say I don't talk about politics, or I'm apolitical. Well everyone, I'm here to tell you why that's complete bullsh*t.

Many people don't have the luxury and privilege of ignoring the political climate and sitting complacent while terrible things happen in our country. So many issues remain a constant battle for so many, be it the systematic racism that persists in nearly every aspect of our society, the fact that Flint still doesn't have clean water, the thousands of children that have been killed due to gun violence, those drowning in debt from unreasonable medical bills, kids fighting for their rights as citizens while their families are deported and separated from them... you get the point. So many people have to fight every single day because they don't have any other choice. If you have the ability to say that you just don't want to have anything to do with politics, it's because you aren't affected by any failing systems. You have a privilege and it is important to recognize it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

We recognize that bad people exist in this world, and we recognize that they bring forth the systems that fail so many people every single day, but what is even more important to recognize are the silent majority - the people who, by engaging in neutrality, enable and purvey the side of the oppressors by doing nothing for their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

Maybe we think being neutral and not causing conflict is supposed to be about peacekeeping and in some way benefits the political discussion if we don't try to argue. But if we don't call out those who purvey failing systems, even if it's our best friend who says something homophobic, even if it's our representatives who support bills like the abortion ban in Alabama, even if it's our president who denies the fact that climate change is killing our planet faster than we can hope to reverse it, do we not, in essence, by all accounts of technicality side with those pushing the issues forward? If we let our best friend get away with saying something homophobic, will he ever start to change his ways, or will he ever be forced to realize that what he's said isn't something that we can just brush aside? If we let our representatives get away with ratifying abortion bans, how far will the laws go until women have no safe and reasonable control over their own bodily decisions? If we let our president continue to deny climate change, will we not lose our ability to live on this planet by choosing to do nothing?

We cannot pander to people who think that being neutral in times of injustice is a reasonable stance to take. We cannot have sympathy for people who decide they don't want to care about the political climate we're in today. Your attempts at avoiding conflict only make the conflict worse - your silence in this aspect is deafening. You've given ammunition for the oppressors who take your silence and apathy and continue to carry forth their oppression. If you want to be a good person, you need to suck it up and take a stand, or else nothing is going to change. We need to raise the voices of those who struggle to be heard by giving them the support they need to succeed against the opposition.

With all this in mind, just remember for the next time someone tells you that they're apolitical: you know exactly which side they're on.


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