Racism can be covert as well as overt

Posted on May 29, 2016 12:00 am

I refer to my Danish friend as ‘Danno’ while in return refers to me as, Contador Harrison is ‘AfroAbo.’ It started as a result of me being boastful of my Aboriginal and African origin with Danish friend being proud of about being a viking descendant. For many years now, we have shared our views on what ails the societies when it comes to race relations. Many people have good reason for thinking that the state of global race relations and community harmony remains a challenge. With frequent regularly, we see stories about people being racially vilified or threatened with racist violence on public transport in Western countries. Far-right wing extremist groups have been vocal in protesting against migrants in Europe and Australia almost elected a far right leader for the first time since second World War until post votes on Monday this past week saved Europe an embarrassment.As I have always shared with Danish friend, we should resist the idea where discussions about racism are reduced to the point where people can be quick to find in any incident confirmation of some moral flaw. There are those who are eager to deny that racism exists or assert that any racism that does exist today pales in comparison to what existed during the United States of America law on segregation came into effect.

Overall, there is something wholly unsatisfactory in thinking in these terms. To declare a person racist implies either that each and every aspect of that person is racist, or that his life embody racist principles in some fundamental way. To say that a person is not racist, on the other hand, ignores the fact that no person is free of racial prejudice, the fact that every person will have racism in some form and to some degree.Racism in contemporary societies is not embodied in the same way. From countries defined by the ideal of a White supremacy to those defined as multicultural one, racism is a reality that people have to get used to. Multiculturalism has become part of our official expression of nationhood and that is why when German Chancellor Angela Merkel few years ago said that multiculturalism has failed in her country, I didn’t see it as a big deal like mainstream media wanted us to believe. European refugees immigration program makes no discrimination on racial grounds and its why so many Syrians have found different parts of Europe as safe havens compared to their war torn countries. However, it is concerning that a good deal of racism today is expressed so overtly in public in places such as business engagements, public areas and gatherings etc. Abuse and harassment aren’t the only forms that racism takes.

Much of racism reveals itself not in dramatic tirades or threatening violence, but in rather more banal forms. Recent research that I have read on racism suggests that it occurs most commonly in business meetings, businesses, neck of the wood, shopping malls and is prevalent in workplaces. Racism is more prevalent than most people would like to admit. Several of my friends have this year told me they have experienced racial discrimination of some kind. Another one told me how he has been excluded from activities at her workplace because of her race. Three people I know were physically assaulted because of their racial background last year. No doubt that people of African origin are more susceptible to experiencing discrimination in a way distinctive from other races.If what mainstream media preaches to us that multiculturalism is now a common success, what explains the persistence of racism in Western World? Arguably, the easiest explanation is that any multicultural success remains incomplete and as Danish friend always reminds me, in every church there is a sinner.It has become hard for some people in the society on sensibilities that are still catching up with the changes that have occurred within the composition of global population.Ten years ago, who would have predicted that America will have its first black President?Even one of the greatest rapper of all time Tupac Shakur predicted in the song “Changes” where he sang about how incarceration, police brutality, poverty and drugs that have greatly harmed Black America.

Tupac starts with “is life worth living?  Should I blast myself?”  And he asserts that he “sees no changes.”  All he sees is “racist faces.”  Whenever I listen to this song written over two decades ago, I feel as if he is singing about what us people of African descent are going through. Tupac states that “we ain’t ready to see a Black President” but luckily i belong to the generation that witnessed Barack Obama ascend to presidency eight years ago.But i cannot forget the prejudices that he has faced just because he’s black including from the likely next president of US Donald Trump who recently won the Republican nomination ticket.He once dubbed Obama a foreigner with no birth certificate.Overall, it’s more than just social sensibilities that have lagged behind in United States and other western countries. Our institutions and organisations have failed to change to reflect our multicultural realities and that is why companies Google, Apple, Facebook have less than 3% of their total staff who are none white. To me, racism exists in structural forms. It resides not only in social interactions, but also in the systems and rules that govern what is normal and what is deviant.It is challenging for people of African origin because the faces of racism and bigotry are increasingly brave and on display in public.Mainstream media doesn’t even help the situation because discussions about race remain fraught with sensitivities.I do get the impression that calling out racism can be described as a moral offence than the perpetration of racism itself. Overcoming racism will never be easy and as I have come to practice, be guided by hope but be pessimistic that a day will come when multiculturalism will ever work.

Contador Harrison