Human beings are generally fearful of the unknown, the strange and the unusual. We rightfully warn our children to be aware of and avoid strangers. We place things of an unfamiliar nature in boxes labeled beware, dangerous, harmful or not to be trusted. Thus, a stranger is to be feared. This sets the stage for hatred. To a large degree, people of all ethnic groups tend to be xenophobic, very often without really recognizing it. Xenophobia causes fear, and sometimes fear naturally generates hatred.
This author feels there is an answer to the problem in using communication. Furthermore, respectfully having open, honest and candid dialogs in a non-intimidating manner appears to be essential.
Here are two questions: What do I know about you? Is what I know about you correct?
What I think about you: from where does it originate? Is it from the media? From family, friends or associates? If so, where are they getting their information? Can what I think about you come from school or textbooks? If so, who wrote those textbooks, and what was their source?
If one black person steals, robs or breaks the law, do all black individuals have the same traits? Should I investigate what I think about you further by reading, dialoging or gathering statistics? Are the statistics reliable due to factors such as law enforcement profiling people or the fact that there is a greater number of black individuals charged with a crime compared to non-black individuals caught in a similar act? When the latter occurs, non-black individuals are frequently given a break, allowed to repent and are able to move forward in society without the hardship of multiple arrests.
Are all white Americans alike? Are all white Americans generally prejudiced toward and biased against non-white individuals? Is this a largely accepted thought or concept of non-white individuals? Is this concept is largely accepted by non-white individuals, is there supporting evidence to that regard? If so, could that evidence be gathered but continually embellished and passed on to other non-white persons until it becomes a paradigm in that social group?
Furthermore, what do we, as human beings, really know about each other from the standpoint of ethnicity? Are we afraid to openly discuss the unknown to identify, determine and learn the misconceptions?
Are all Italians involved in criminality or associated with the Mafia? The movie series “The Godfather” may have influenced a broad opinion of Italians, painting them as mostly being or being related to a mobster. What about the television series “The Sopranos”? Did it have an impact on stereotyping Italians? Are all Irish people heavy drinkers? Do all Germans have the same traits as Hitler? Are all persons from Middle Eastern countries or areas that are predominantly Islamic labeled as a terrorist? These questions can emanate from fear of unknown groups.
Obviously, we can continue naming ethnic groups and enumerating unfound and erroneous stereotypes associated with particular ethnic groups even though they do not represent the majority of individuals adhering to that ethnicity. If we, human beings, stop to dialog, to listen, to ask questions in order to look at the total picture involving each group, we will find that within each ethnic group, the majority want good, harmonious co-existence with all people.
Though there appear to be differences in the large array of ethnic groups here in America and around the world, we are basically all alike below the surface of 1/16 inch of skin where the melanin is found.
There are many ways in which humans pray; however, if we examine multiple religions, many of us seem to pray to (as one song title says) “one God.”
Different issues in ethnicity and sometimes skin color have caused unrest between humans for years.
In western theology, the King James Bible speaks of Moses’ sister having a problem with (the darker) skin color of his wife.
This author believes we can reduce many concerns that cause friction between ethnic groups by setting forth facts about individual groups, something I have sought to do in my books “What Do White Americans Want to Know About Black Americans But Are Afraid to Ask” and “What Do Black Americans Want to Know About White Americans But Are Afraid to Ask.”
What are the contributions to society made by various ethnic groups? For instance, Irish Americans can be very proud of the Kennedy brothers, who, although assassinated, will forever keep their places in American history. Black individuals were the first persons in the world to perform the open heart surgery, invent the shoe machine; invent the red light, the gas mask and filament in light bulbs; and train the Tuskegee Airmen, who made their place in American history during World War II.
What can dialog bring out regarding contributions to our society by so many ethnic groups?
The more we hold conferences, seminars, school assemblies and ethnic sensitivity sessions, the more we will learn about each other. Theses are just a few ideas about how we can break down the great divide separating ethnicities and fostering fear and hatred.
The effort to know each other should be ongoing, not staggering after a few programs.
The things that separate ethnicities did not happen overnight but developed over years and even multiple generations. Therefore, a few delicate efforts or open dialog will not alone bring down the walls of fear and hatred.
The answers to peaceful coexistence, respect and equality cannot be achieved with the attitude of “Why open sore wounds? Let’s move on.” It is not possible to move on by sweeping differences, past acts of hatred or past reasons for mistrust or mistreatment under the rug. This is how it continues to smolder, and every now and then, explode.
Every ethnic group has hopes and dreams of success and pursuing a more fulfilling life. Before such desires can come to fruition, we have to move ahead together as a group of human beings on one planet, not blaming each other for our own disappointments and failures. We should assist each other to reach goals.
Imagine the power behind a collection of ethnic groups forging ahead with the energy we formerly wasted on fear and hatred, and using it toward the fulfillment of thousands of goals and desires. There is enough for all if we use our energy to create the society that can allow all dreams to be fulfilled.
Let’s convert the energy wasted on fear and hatred for the creation of a beautiful society where no desire or dream is prevented.
- Talking About Racism Can Close the Gap – By John H. Davis - July 8, 2014