Unconscious Racism

There is a belief today that race doesn’t matter; that no one makes decisions about anyone’s abilities based on their cultural heritage, that no one is treated differently because of their skin tone, that racism is dead. This belief is dead wrong.

I spend a fair amount of time on the internet. In my web-surfing, I have come across a production company made up of Asian-Americans. One of the most frequent comments on their YouTube channel is some variation of “Why are there so many Asians in your videos?” You will never see that type of comment on Olan Rogers or Julian Smith’s channels – no one is going to say “Dude, why are there so many white guys in your videos?” Even with the rise in interest in Korean pop – people still say things like “Why aren’t they singing in English?”  Well, let’s see… They’re from South Korea – maybe that has something to do with it?

Thankfully, as Korean pop gains more exposure, it also gains fans who are willing to inform the ignorant. Still, this is just one example, one symptom of a bigger problem – the problem of a bias towards that which we find familiar, and the problem of a prejudice, however unintentional, against that which is unfamiliar. This doesn’t just apply to Koreans or other Asians – it applies to everyone who is different from you, regardless of their point of origin.

There is a belief that, because slavery has been abolished, because of the Civil Rights movement, because of Martin Luther King Jr., racism is no longer an issue. We take pride in the way we have defeated the prejudices that were so natural in our grandparent’s time. This pride has blinded us to our own cultural ignorance. We recognize differences in those around us, and, instead of responding to those differences with respect, we ridicule them.

We need to work towards eliminating even small hints of hateful and hurtful attitudes and behaviors towards people whose cultures differ from our own. We need to be open to learning from people with different backgrounds, instead of judging them before they speak.

Natalie Church

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