Racism and It’s kind

Community workshop about Racism and It’s kind
How much do we know about the silent racism among ourselves?

This workshop was initiated by Rooyesh Cultural Group, a community group who invite people to attend bi-weekly meeting to share and to discuss community issues. This workshop was presented in form of Power Point which can be viewed on: http://rooyeshgroup.blogspot.com/

After the presentation we had a group discussion and questions about how we can help our children to stay away from racial comments and racial conflicts.  Below is a brief summary of our presentation.

  • Racism and Culture of Race: Race is a social construct, Racial and ethnic differences should add to our human life instead of creating conflicts.
  • Definition of Culture:Culture is a sum of knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and other capability needed by man as a member of a society.  We define our race based culture as we have been accustomed to. How do we define culture in our “Iranian way of understanding the world?”
  • What is our race? (something to challenge ourselves with)
  • Formation of a Culture:  Anthropologies do not believe culture is an innate biological equipment of humans,  we get born into a culture, not necessary we do acquire those cultural traits.  Our culture is the knowledge about how race, age, gender, sex, ethnicity, and color define our being in the world.  Culture is rather an external, acquired, and transmissible to others
  • Our Iranian Culture: What does it mean that we have 2500 years of history/ culture?, How understanding of race has impacted that history?, How have we taken responsibility to transmit that sum of knowledge, morals, believes, arts, and customs?
  • Definition of Racism: Racism means attitudes, practices and other factors that disadvantage people because of their race, color or ethnicity. Racism can be directed against any race, color or ethnicity.
  • Examples of racism: Graffiti, intimidation or physical violence, Racial and ethnic slurs, comments, & jokes, Discrimination in hiring and apartment rentals, policies that disadvantage members of certain races whether intentionally or not, discrimination of women, etnical groups, people belonging to various religions,
  • Racism: three main levels: individual, institutional and cultural

Social Psychology: Study of how our thoughts, behaviors, and feelings are impacted by others.  How we get along with other races or ethnical groups?  Human being is born to create culture and to acquire knowledge about what is expected of him /her

  • Transmitting of cultures: Mother/ Father to child, Family to family, Family to group /community, Family to the world, Groups to groups.   How: By story telling, books, objective history, shared knowledge….
  • Ethnicity and culture: No connection to the human biological variations or race

Ethnicity = clusters of people with similar cultural traits that make them a group different than other groups.  Similar language, accent, common geographic place of origin, religion, sense of history, values, and beliefs about how life should be like for that specific group

Ethnicity not a fixed notion, We move into other countries. We Learn language, We Learn ethnical traditions.  We become participants in that ethnicity

  • Ethnocentrism = belief in the superiority of one culture and inferiority of other cultures, leading to conflicts

Various type of Racism: Individual racism based on individual attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviors. Racial prejudice: belittling and jealousy are examples of racist attitudes.

Examples of racist beliefs are racial stereotypes, the belief that some races are better than others and even the belief that people can be classified according to race in the first place. Violence, name-calling and discrimination in hiring are examples of racist behavior.

  • Institutional or systemic racism takes the form of the practices, customs, rules and standards of organizations, including governments that unnecessarily disadvantage people because of their race, color or ethnicity. They do not always involve differences in treatment. Educational requirements that are not related to actual job duties are an example.
  • Cultural racism is the cultural values and standards that disadvantage people because of their race, color or ethnicity. Examples are cultural expectations as to the race of a company president and the cultural standard for what a beautiful, trustworthy or competent person looks like.
  • Stereotyping:  What does a Stereotype mean.  It is about packing everyone under one identity! Forming a fixed picture of a group of people usually based on false or incomplete information. Making comments, generalizing, making other “less than.”
  • Prejudice & Discrimination: Prejudice literally means “prejudgment.” A prejudice is a preconceived negative opinion or attitude about a group of people.
  • Discrimination is anything that has the effect, intentional or not, of limiting the opportunities of certain individuals or groups because of personal characteristics such as race or color.

How about discriminating women because of their gender?

  • Diversity: Individual level; uniqueness, genes, non-shared experiences
  • Group level; similarities & differences; race, gender, social class….
  • Universal level; common life experiences as human beings, birth, death, biological and physical similarities, self-awareness

Respect for Diversity: Human being has differences in terms of: race & ethnicity, nationality, religion, social class, sexual orientation, age, physical-mental-cognitive ability and difference, sex, language, beliefs-values-customs.
How much do we respect those different than us?
What racism does?
1- Naming; a rejection of other’s ability to impose an identity.
2-aggregating; lumping together under one name or label; Latino or Hispanic; Asian;
3-dichotomization; only two categories; everyone fits into one; they are in position to one another; race; white and non-whites, the one drop rule in the us, male or female
4-stigmatization; the “other” becomes stigmatized. One group seen as “normal”, and other people as the “other”
5-oppression; systematic subjugation of a dis empowered social group by a group with access to social power

Social power + prejudice= oppression.
Racial Jokes: Our jokes are racialized, We tend to harm other ethnical groups, Being funny has limitation, Racial jokes dehumanize women, children, ethnical groups, certain occupation, disabled, weaker, and people with dialect.
Most painful jokes: Jokes about child molestation acts, Jokes about women, elders, handicaps, all those we assume as “less than”
What can we do? We need to decide, Stop saying all the Racial slurs, racial & sexist “jokes”, Discriminatory comments…

  • Raise awareness
  • Educate children
  • Talk to your family & other people
  • Create a language & culture of peace!

Say no to racism website: http://www.gnb.ca/hrc-cdp/e/sayno.htm
Smedley, A., & Smedley, B.D. (2005). Race as Biology is Fiction, Racism as a Social Problem is Read. American Psychologists. Vol 60.

By: Poran Poregbal
October 20, 2007