Race relations: why our associations are hindering our growth

 

Growing up, my sister and I were always taught to accept all people. It didn’t matter what religious affiliation a person held or what race or sexual orientation a person identified with we were told to treat those the way we wanted to be treated. As a child I, of course, listened to my mother with no questions asked, but I didn’t understand why she would stress something I thought everyone knew and did.

As I’ve gotten older, I now understand why my mother put so much emphasis on the treatment of others. We’re supposed to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, but it seems it’s the land of the judgmental and home of the stereotypes.

For those of you who aren’t aware of this, the purpose of our parents putting us in social groups as children is so we’d learn how to interact with dissimilar people. Imagine the setback we put ourselves in the moment we call someone from a different background an offensive or derogatory term.

There’s been the death of Michael Brown, Robin Williams and the war in Gaza. I cried when I heard the news about each situation, however radically different the deaths were from each other. Yes, Michael Brown’s death stings a little more, perhaps because I identify with the same race, but that doesn’t mean the other two tragedies aren’t important to me, or I can’t identify with those who were directly affected.

I’ve posted about all misfortunes and received a lot of backlash because of that. Why are people trying to make me guilty for having feelings? This isn’t a competition to see which race or group can undergo the worst tragedy; this should be the time we all recognize each other’s struggles.

Learn to support one another. Everyone, regardless of their associations, goes through suffering. Disaster doesn’t discriminate from one community to the next. At the end of the day, if we strip ourselves of race, religion, sexual orientation, class, etc., we’re all still human.

I think the problem comes in assuming a person from another community can’t relate, and as a result, we close ourselves up and only talk to those that are like us. Another issue comes in holding an entire group of people accountable for something one person did or for actions they have no control over.

Humans are creatures of habit so rather than work toward a solution, we’ll just hold grudges and disassociate ourselves as we’ve done in the past; it’s easier to keep pointing fingers and play the blame game versus working towards a better answer.

I’m not suggesting we all grab hands, sing kumbaya, and forget about the negativity surrounding us; however, dwelling on tragedy isn’t going to help us move forward. Stop treating others like they’re aliens or like they don’t belong just because they’re different.

I don’t expect you to befriend a complete stranger or add that token friend to your circle, but this is the chance to become socially conscious and reevaluate your treatment of others.

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