October 8, 2015

5 Tips to Stop Racism in its tracks

Racism on the increase on the Internet

I am deeply concerned about the news this morning. And not just this morning, but the past few days and months.

I have to admit to being the kind of person who loves to live in a bubble. Some call me naive, an ostrich, in denial. But I like to focus on the positive side of life, on the good in people, and often, watching the news does not help me to do that.

I hate watching the news, but...

However, due to the wave of refugees flooding Europe, leading to some people getting upset about it, and due to the recent violent events happening in Israel, I have had to focus more on the news. Which led me to watch both CNN, Al Jazeera and then the Dutch news this morning. Sadly enough, it was all bad. No, it was terrible. It's bad enough when bad things happen "over there," but if there is racism in Holland, where I live, a country which had once been derogatorily called by Bill O'Reilly on the Fox news channel "a place full of liberal progressives," then what's the world coming to?

The enemy is here among us, and it's not the refugees, it's ignorance!

As a lecturer at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, I felt the need to talk to my students about this in class today. Just to mention "the elephant in the room." And here I am again, with my naive hope that we can do something to create a sustainable future for all people on this planet.

What can you do to stop racism?

1. Talk and especially listen to the other side. 

I believe that most racism stems from ignorance, and misguided beliefs. If we only listen to people who think like we do, then even if we are 'open' and 'liberal,'  we are not trying to understand where their fears and anger comes from. We have to open up and see things from the other's perspective. Perhaps one day, they will reciprocate.

2. Create a dialogue. 

Last time there was a major conflict in Israel, I reached out to various Peace organizations on Facebook and joined them. Through this, I made 2 new friends, one a Palestinian, and one an Egyptian. It's not a lot, but it's a start. We exchange personal info, we sometimes chat on Facebook, we see each other's lives and we are at least talking to each other.

3. Stop 'bad mouthing' in its tracks. 

When you hear other people around you saying things you don't agree with, why not voice your opinion, even if it's unpopular. Talk about the situation, don't 'bury' it in order to just keep harmony. When I came to the Netherlands, 14 years ago, I voiced my opinion about Zwarte Piet every single year, despite it not bringing me much popularity. And finally now, how the holiday is celebrated has started to change. It wasn't me who brought about the change, but enough people did finally speak up and it became an issue that had to be dealt with.

4. Help in any way you can. 

When we help someone else, it makes us feel so much richer for having done so. You can volunteer, but you can also just donate old clothes to the many organizations asking for help. By doing so, you might realize how much you have, and how little others do not have.

5. Read real-life stories. 

Education yourself and others by watching films about people in other countries and also by reading stories about others. On the UN site dedicated to stopping racism, there are a few stories you can already dip into.

Perhaps I am naive and overly positive, but I do believe that deep down we all want the same things: security, love, community, appreciation, a sense of belonging. Imagine how you would feel if you lost all of that through no fault of your own. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Audrey, simply clarifying is not naive. It makes it recognizable and real. Tips give guidelines on how to take practical action, much better than lingering longer in just thinking about how things should change.
    I will share with my colleagues, at ROC van Amsterdam, too.