Even though we live in the 21st century, racism is an issue that many people still face. Although it may not be as obvious as back when apartheid was acceptable and widely practiced, it still is weaved in a lot of people’s views and beliefs which ultimately manifest in the way they approach you. I’ve had my own share of racism, one of which particularly stayed in my mind to this day and it occurred when I was growing up in my old home as a child.
I was bouncing my ball out in the front yard, not realizing that the kick I was about to give it would send it sprawling into my neighbors backyard. The townhomes in my neighborhood were easy to maneuver through and this particular home didn’t have a gate in the back since it was the house located at the far end of its row. I made my way to it, passing the side and entering into the unfamiliar backyard. I found my ball planted neatly between 2 bushes and ran towards the plants to retrieve it. I halted at the sound of an angry woman’s voice yelling “Hey nigga, what are you doing in my backyard without permission?!” I was more startled by the anger in the voice than the actual statement because at that time I didn’t know what the word ‘nigga’ meant. Later in life I came to realize that it was a racist term targeted towards people of darker complexions or black people.
Its rough knowing that someone has the power to limit your opportunities or look down on you or despise you simply due to your outer shell, your coating, your unique and beautiful skin colour. Unfortunately it can’t be avoided, you can’t control how someone looks at you but you can choose to recognize your value even in the midst of this. The choice to remain stable, positive and proactive is the best solution when it comes to dealing with racist people. Here are 3 ways to not allow racist people to get under your skin and deal with them professionally.
- Cope with Racism in a proactive way
Proactive coping, is characterized by how well someone can prepare for anticipated stressors in their daily lives. It’s a coping approach designed to minimize the onset of stress before it begins. Literature (albeit limited) demonstrates that stigmatized groups (including African Americans) utilize proactive coping to ‘effectively’ manage stigma-based stress. One way to practice proactive coping is to have self-control when faced with any form of racism. Don’t allow yourself to be intimidated by the person and give into telling them too much. Many racists like to look for information and you may feel the need to defend yourself and speak up or debate with them but this, in many cases, will only fuel them further and can even make you turn out to be the bad guy. It is better to just keep your cool, recognize that the person is ignorant or insecure about something in their own lives and preserve your energy for things that are more important. One thing that is becoming more common is exposing bullies and racists alike. Having them join a conversation while you are in a public setting is one way to expose. I know of people who encountered racism and wrote about it in their blogs or social media page, choosing to either keep the individual anonymous or not. Either way it’s good to let others know and have that social support you need. If the racism continues to accelerate, informing higher authorities is definitely an option too.
- Differentiate between racist actions and racist people
True racist people are fueled by their hate of other races, prejudice and bigotry and they tend to not budge even when confronted by it. On the other hand, racist actions are often mistakes or a result of growing up in a culture where racist terms and behaviours are accepted. Understanding and differentiating between racist people and racist terms is important because many people are genuinely good hearted people, but they just need some education on what is appropriate and not appropriate to say. Educating someone you trust or care about on race can be beneficial because you are not only educating them about race, you are also teaching them about your boundaries, what and that you deserve to be respected as well. Deciding to educate someone is entirely up to you. It’s not a requirement that you must tell people what not to say and tell them about your history and why a word is offensive due to its origin. You need to have the right judgement when it comes to deciding who you want to confront and those that you prefer to distance yourself from.
- Practice good self-care
Always tend to yourself when you are in a stressful situation. Stress from coping with racism can affect every area of your life, including your mental well-being, performance in school, and can even serve as risk factors for major diseases. If you are a person of color, you can join a student association with other students of color, political organizations, or other affinity groups to meet and network with. Talk to your family members about stressful events and how to cope. Studies show that having people with whom you can discuss shared negative experiences with is an important factor in coping with related stress. Ensure that you have resources and the required aid you need when feeling overwhelmed by racism and the like.
Thank you for being reading this weeks blog. Unfortunately, I may not be able to post as often as before because I am entering into a new school term and will be a full time student within a weeks time. I will try my best to post whenever I can on topics that are of interest. Im thinking of writing my next weeks topic on the impact social media can have on real relationships. Don’t forget to comment your thoughts and opinions in the comments section down below. To what extent does social media affect your relationship? Is it in a bad or good way? Let me know your thoughts down below. For now have a great and blessed week!