Every once in a while I see news where an individual has experienced some kind of racial discrimination. For instance, someone got drunk and started to slur onto someone, somebody wrote a racially offensive word on a receipt, someone pulled someone by their hair for adorning a veil/ scarf around their head, someone gave an interview and said something which the public found making fun of someone’s race and so forth. But that is not all.
I read that in most cases the perpetrators are made to serve “justice”. Someone loses their job for their comments, someone receives hate messages on social media, someone gets negatively criticised about their deed, someone is made to apologise to one person or various parties involved, someone is arrested and presented in courts
The question then is why don’t the racially discriminating abuses ever seem to stop, despite the perpetrators being dealt with in most instances? Why doesn’t the consequences of perpetrators deter others and halt any other abuses/ discrimination taking place?
Are we even pointing in the right direction when we raise our fingers onto individuals to complain they have acted in a racially discriminating manner? Does our “justice” toward individuals count to reduce/ prevent issues of racism or are we unintentionally ignoring a bigger picture?
- Racial discrimination executed by individuals is not driven by a vacuum. A sole being (person x) on its own cannot entirely construct or conceptualise ideas of racial differences.
- Individuals reside in societies. Societies, primarily western democratic ones are fundamentally based on ideologies of racial differences. Such differences are evident via institutional racism often backed by media (news we rely on) to reinforce the ideologies of racial differences. .
- One common perception deriving from the “war on drugs” is that Black Americans are more prone to violence. Because media would cover the police effort on cracking the drug business to ensure a safer, healthier society (as per what person x sees). Result: Black Americans considered the “dangerous other”, “deviant”, “violent”. However, what the state and society practices are is hardly touched by the media.
- Consider prison labour. http://returntonow.net/2016/06/13/prison-labor-is-the-new-american-slavery/ The effort of Black Americans yields income for a party who is not obliged to pay them the legal minimum wage. Hence a higher profit margin advantageous to the business. Therefore, giving rise to the need for such labourers. As a consequence, statistics show that Black Americans are over-represented in the prison population. This means utilising a racial group for labour whilst sticking a “criminal” sticker on. The person x sits to watch the news on television which tells them about criminals, perhaps labouring in prison, their racial identity and their crime. But what remains silent is the driving factor behind the crime, how state policies did not ensure a free quality lifestyle for the individual and how being incarcerated benefits some third party. In other words, why and how Black Americans land behind bars remain a mystery, untouched.
- Consider Segregation. History has that Black Americans did not have civil rights back in the days and had the status of a slave. How on earth would person x watching the drug busts on telly figure that the mass incarceration of Black Americans in today’s time is yet another effort to maintain racial divide through the justice system by segregating Black Americans from the society into prison space.
- Terrorism. Islamophobia. Muslims. Veil. Burkha. Person x sits and watches terror being unleashed. The news highlights the adverse effects of the terror attacks on person x’s society and other societies around the world. This presentation of an entire race- Muslims in a negative light and a deviant different race tells person x half the story.
- The other half is the quiet oppression of people around the globe by dominating western democracies. John Perkins, author of confession of an economic hit-man touched how the seeking of oil reserves (for use in making plastic and petrol) in South America, Asia and Middle East had negatively impacted the economies and devastated local residents’ lives which contributed toward 9/11. Then there is political conspiracies, discussed by Arundhati Roy in “Listening to Grasshoppers”, which explains how Islamophobia is used to stir up race issues for political leverage.
- The basic idea is that person x never gets the opportunity through the media to learn how the terrorism they witness around the globe is not simply due to an organisation randomly picking up arms and starting to create chaos to be labelled a “wanted terrorist” organisation. The reports of lives of civilians in the third world nations are “documented” but not reported as “daily news” and definitely not how the plight of the affected civilians still tend to generate profits for those in control of the nation’s robust natural resources. Furthermore, person x, witnessing all the carnage on a usual basis and being repeatedly told “Islamic State, Islamic State” develops a one sided sentiment that Muslims are troublesome as a race.
- Discriminating someone because of their race is definitely not a positive act by person x. But after residing in a society where racial difference originates from the state, legitimises counter terrorist activities (Abu Ghraib camp), permeates political agendas, enslaves individuals and veils greed of resource control; without constructive critique by the media- what choice does person x have?
- Hopefully, when we now see a woman dragged by her hair or someone slurred at because of their race, we know where it really is coming from.