Sep 29, 2019

How to Become a Racist

It’s easy to become a racist.

You may not like to admit it, but privately you think that a particular race is generally lazier, another greedier, and some other race is more violent.

I used to think that it’s because our country is still a developing country, therefore our mindsets are uncivilized.

Nonetheless, some times ago, I heard a comment from an entrepreneur from a First-World country:

We tried to recruit a few candidates from XXX race, and all of them are irresponsible — left early, come late, MIA etc. We’re not gonna consider candidate from that race anymore.

It seems to me that, regardless of economic status, racism is just an easy trap to fall into.

So are we fated to become a racist, continuing blaming others are racists openly while being racist privately?

A Book

Last month when I was in Denmark, I was so bored until I decided to participate in a Book Club, and pick up an interesting book: Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst.

I didn’t finish the book; instead, I just flip through it and focus on those interest me, and there is a chapter on racism.

As discussed in Chapter 11 of the book (Us Versus Them), each time we make a mental separation of “us-versus-them”, we will try to generalize the quality of “them”. This generalization of “them” is how racism is created. Meanwhile, within the “us” group, we will try to find the individual characteristics of each person.

For example, if you think of “Chinese versus Malay”, you will subconsciously trying to look for a “general characteristics of Malay”. Consequently, you will start to think:

  • “Hey, the last Malay candidate is so irresponsible —, I guess Malays are all irresponsible.”
  • “Hey, this Chinese business man saying nonsense thing about military and play with our country flag, but, that’s just his own personal idiocy, Chinese are not like that”.

Now we know where the racism comes from, what’s the solution?

Individuate, individuate, individuate (Apology for the bad English, blame the author, he said it).

Fight your tendency to generalize person based on race (and gender, and occupation, and age…).

Just like growth mindset, I find that knowing the “us versus them” mindset helps me to analyze my own racism, and (hopefully) reduce it.

Thanks for reading!

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