Resolve to put down your broad stereotyping brush. Racism is learned and you have the capacity to let go of it if you desire to do so.
At one time or another, we have all harbored a negative thought or drawn a conclusion about a person or group of another race based on our isolated personal experiences, what we have heard from others, or have seen in the media.
Refusing to be a “perpetuator” of negativity, I went on a quest to get to know, on a deeper level, individuals who “don’t look like me.” I’ve succeeded—and over the years, I’ve developed some amazing cross-cultural relationships that are mutually rewarding. Here are some of the key strategies that worked for me:
- Determine whether you are indeed a racist. Do you really believe that a particular race is inherently inferior or superior, or that their moral or social behavior is attributable specifically to race? You see, there is a good chance that rather than being a racist, you may be guilty of “racial preference” in which you prefer to be with people of your own race due to familiarity, fears about the other race, or other learned reasons. I admit that I have occasionally practiced racial preference. For example, I prefer to watch Black movies with Black people because the audience tends to respond to the humorous, joyful, or sad scenes in a way that reinforces the bond we share because of our history or other relatable cultural distinctions.
- Get close enough to understand people on an individual basis. Stop ignoring the “elephant in the room”—being racially different—and have a real conversation. Ask questions about their life experience, share a meal, and engage in a social, religious, or sports activity together. Be proactive in initiating the connection; don’t wait to be invited. If at first you don’t succeed with a particular person, try another. In the end, you will find that you have more in common than you imagined.
Get the other 3 strategies at my guest post for Bishop T.D. Jakes: https://www.tdjakes.com/posts/6-ways-to-resist-racism
In July 2007, Police Officer Christopher Dorner and his partner were called to a public disturbance where a disorderly, mentally challenged man was creating a nuisance. Dorner later reported to department officials that his partner had used excessive force during the arrest, kicking the man in the face while he was handcuffed. The department investigated the incident and decided that Dorner’s claim was not true. They fired him in 2008 for making a false report.
He charged racism and appealed his case for job reinstatement. He exhausted every level of the police department’s appeals process to no avail. He went on to file a wrongful termination lawsuit through local and state courts; they upheld the department’s decision.
In February 2013, consumed with rage, Dorner decided his only option was to retaliate. He went on a shooting spree from February 2 through February 12 against specific officers and their families. He killed four people, including three police officers, and wounded four other officers. He became the subject of the largest manhunt in the history of the police department. Acting on a tip, the police finally tracked him to a cabin in the mountains. He died there on February 12, 2013, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head during a standoff with the police. He was 33 years old.
In reading Dorner’s manifesto which he had mailed to the media before starting his shooting spree, I observed five toxic, erroneous, and overall “bad beliefs” that ultimately derailed his destiny and caused untold heartache for his family and the families of his victims. The truth is that any of us could fall prey to these beliefs. We all behave according to what we believe. Thus, it pays to “audit” our beliefs often to know what is motivating our behavior.