The myriad facets of racism that are not visible - GulfToday

The myriad facets of racism that are not visible

Birjees Hussain

She has more than 10 years of experience in writing articles on a range of topics including health, beauty, lifestyle, finance, management and Quality Management.


People wearing face coverings react as they hold banners in Hyde Park during a "Black Lives Matter" protest. Reuters

I don’t believe anyone is born racist. This is patently obvious when you put babies and toddlers of different ethnic groups together. They become friends and play with each other automatically. There’s no grouping in nurseries unlike when we get into our teens and beyond. Go to any school or university and you will see a clear grouping structure. Black people will be in one group, South East Asians in another, South Asians in another and white people in yet another. Very rarely will you see a group that comprises many races. Having been to school and college in a country that does indeed contain many races, this was a common sight. You might think it starts at school and continues thereafter but I think you’d be wrong. I think it tends to start at home.

Across America there’s enormous racial tension surrounding the death of African-American George Floyd. Then more recently, tensions heightened even further when a 13-year-old Hispanic boy was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer who says he thought he saw a gun in the boy’s hand. Critics claim that the shooting was unprovoked and happened because he was a person of colour.

The above incidences are being considered open police racism. This is because there is a whole spate of incidences where police in America have shot and killed unarmed black people.

Piers Morgan and Sharon Osbourne have both been in the firing line for what many people of colour think is racism. In her tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, Meghan Markle accused the British Royals of being racist. On his Morning News programme Piers Morgan said he didn’t believe a word she said. He was forced to resign after his comments and Sharon Osbourne, former host of The Talk, defended him. Both have been labelled racists, Piers Morgan for not believing the Duchess of Sussex and Osbourne for siding with Morgan. Although both insist that they are not racist, no one believes them and the irony is that they might not be.

There are so many ways people might be thought racist and it’s not always because of something they said or did. It can also be something they didn’t say or do. Obviously uttering a racial slur, or refusing to serve a person from a different ethnic group than yourself, is racist. So too is not wanting your children to marry someone from another race. You might argue that it has more to do with how society will treat them and their offspring but, unfortunately, you will still sound racist.

But there are subtle ways of expressing racism as well. It might be that they have certain preconceived notions about people of a certain group, like fear or their habits. Highly educated people, who are racists, are particularly adept at expressing their views, or they do it in such a way that people might think they are big jokesters. They do so in such a way that the target of their racism never picks up on it or, if they do, their friends put it down to some light-hearted fun. It could be something as simple as not being too friendly towards people of colour or not having any friends of colour or making jokes about people of colour in such a way that it’s laughed off and forgotten. Sometimes people might appear racist for trying too hard to have a friend of colour when most of their friends are not. They almost seem like ‘tokens’ in their friends’ repertoire. In other words, insisting that you are not a racist might be considered racist.

Now I don’t wish to speak ill of the dead but, over the years, the late Duke of Edinburgh made many comments that were racist, but most of the people around him seemed to just shrug them off as mere gaffs.

The simple truth of the matter is that those who are in high places seem to get away with making off the cuff offensive comments. The other truth is that saying you’re not racist can also land you in trouble even though you never uttered a racist slur or behaved in a way that might offend a person of colour. And one last point that I think is important to emphasise is that moreover, it’s not white people who can be racist. People of colour can be too.

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