Racism and xenophobia are being exposed now, more than ever before. And we are beginning to see it more with incidents like Amy Cooper’s show of white supremacy, George Floyd’s death, and not to forget, the recent xenophobia that relates to people in China because of the fear of Corona Virus.
Yes, of course, the lives of people of colour matter. But, we need to really ask ourselves some questions. How are we demonising the coloured lives when these people, in fact, are victims of years of unwarranted fear?
Not to forget, the officer who took the life of George Floyd had been in the force for 19 years and has been involved in 3 other police shootings. And, despite several complaints against him, he was in fact, in the position of power.
And before you decide to brush this problem aside as the problem of the West, of America particularly, think about all the ‘fairness cream’ advertisements that are rampant in #India. With each viewing of those adverts, each backhanded comment on someone’s skin tone as a measure of their worth, we are kneeling against the neck of innumerable lives, in ways we can’t yet fathom.
Because this time, we are kneeling as a society, on the spines of certain races, and such hatred is simple to result in breathlessness. My latest research at Sussex University confirms that we can easily influence the memories of people in the context of remembering the face of a potential criminal. It was found that ‘biasing participants about the race of an unfamiliar face before they viewed it significantly affected their perception of that face’.
Think of the many movies, commercials, other media platforms that have created our very assumptions surrounding people of the ‘other race’ and sometimes our own race. These assumptions make us automatically demonise a particular race as the ‘obvious perpetrator of crimes’.
And this assumption may just be a little thought sitting in your mind. But, if it is the exact same thought prevalent across nations, then its ramifications are serious. Those that can result in choking.
How much unconscious influence and now, very conscious racist influence of people’s memories can we systematically address?
It is not uncommon to want to search for security during difficult times, such as the current #corona pandemic. But, the next time, we try to soothe our anxieties, try to pause before you find an enemy in someone of another race.
We need to think about the ramifications of tragedies like Floyd’s death, and of countless others, whose lives we have no account of.
What actions are we taking as a society to soothe the psyche of those affected?