Racism is a concern that is bigger than we know. It has spread from the confines of the basic communities and neighborhoods to the cities and states and across countries. As mentioned in a previous article (The Big Problem of Racism), stopping or spreading racism depends on three factors: awareness, tolerance and action. How we proceed with these factors can lead to different results or outcomes. One possible outcome is racism becoming a routine.
We first need to define what is a routine. It is basically defined as a sequence of actions regularly followed or a fixed program. It is also similar or closely related to a practice, custom or habit. Why define routine? Because when this word is added to or associated with racism, it gives a different meaning and a different view of racism — all in a negative way. The three factors mentioned above can give details on how racism becomes a routine.
Awareness. For people to be aware of a particular object, person or event, they have to perceive these things with their senses. Awareness is the next step to perception. We become aware of racism, primarily through seeing and hearing about it. Media, in all its different forms, is a big factor in our awareness about racism. Different countries have different levels of technology and thus have different access to media. For people with limited or no access to media, their source of awareness can be other people and their interactions with outsiders and foreigners. Thus, we may have varying degrees of awareness about racism and its extent.
Tolerance. Once we become aware and know of racism, we have to decide on where we stand about it. When we tolerate racism, we accept the practices and attitude associated with it. We either support some or all of the practices and positions regarding racism. Our constant indifference and uncaring attitude can lead to unchanging and routinary practice of racism. Our conscious and intentional effort to tolerate and ignore racism and its many forms can create an environment wherein racism is considered a norm.
Action. If we decide to tolerate racism, our actions correspondingly reflect our decision. Turning a blind eye and doing nothing about racism is a passive action supporting racism. When one or more individuals do so within a community with racial issues, the outcome would be a routinary racial trouble for the community. Active participation in racist activities such as racial insensitivity, racial bias and discrimination among others, can also make racism become routine. We should not underestimate the power of suggestion. What say and how we act in front of other people or our peers can have a significant influence on their behaviors as well. When we show them about our inactivity or active support on racism, they are more likely to be influenced to go in the same direction.
Condoning, tolerating and supporting racism can make it become a routine practice. When we are more or less aware of the racism situation, yet we choose to stand by it and support it through different means we are fostering the culture racism. The more people are involved in tolerating racism, the more it is viewed as an accepted custom or habit. Thus, racism can be difficult to detect in corporate and political institutions wherein racist practices are engendered by top brass management and policy makers and the working members are left with no choice but to follow the practice.
Changing the practice of making racism a routine can start within us. If we practice racial sensitivity and genuine concern for other people in ourselves and within our homes, then we could make one less follower of racism at a time. They key is to be aware, decide and act for the good of everyone, regardless of race.
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” — Edmund Burke