The late Nelson Mandela said that ” in a world of diversity, racism is a crime against humanity “, the emblematic defender of human rights was not without reason. The fight against racism and racial discrimination continues in a society that seems that he only worries about this problem when it is up close or when it affects his football team.This is the current case of the insults suffered by the Real Madrid player, Vinicius Jr. by the Valencia fans.
These media events arouse more interest and social dialogue than when it affects the neighbor with whom we live door to door and it seems that it is more difficult for us to empathize with him. These types of social phenomena must be used to condemn situations of racial discrimination and not, as some do, to sell more newspapers or sell and strengthen themselves in a specific political ideology, taking advantage of the fact that they are local elections, further promoting inequality, using the wave of racism in their favor to influence the masses in order to have more votes. You are ashamed.
Racism from psychology
Racism is a learned social and cultural construct that generates a belief of superiority or inferiority between races or ethnicities of the SAME species that generally affects minorities in a population. There is no type of genetic predisposition towards racism , so it is learned through socialization, education, values and discriminatory attitudes that influence us through the environment and the social context in which we live.
Just watch two little kids of various ethnicities play with each other without any kind of problem. Racist beliefs are generated over time by experiences and experiences that accumulate, most of them without any kind of real foundation, but rather because of a stereotype that is passed from generation to generation, but I repeat, not because of our genes but because they instill it in us that way, and that in our ignorance, we believe as true without further ado, without going so far as to question it or arouse criticism or reflection on it.
This racist learning is similar to other types of discrimination, such as xenophobia, homophobia, or even gender stereotypes.
This discrimination between people generates a series of negative prejudices and stereotypes , generally false, that generate situations of hate, violence, inequality and discrimination in various areas of our community that only increase the social distance between people. For this reason, racism is a social and structural problem that must be addressed through education, intercultural dialogue and the promotion of rights and equal opportunities regardless of race or ethnicity. This takes time to do.
Some of the areas where this type of racial discrimination occurs are in education, employment, housing, the judicial system, access to health, culture, sports, communication, politics or the economy. Virtually everything that implies a social interrelation is affected by racism.
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Why are we racist if no one claims to be?
Society is racist. This is a fact. I am sure that if the same people who insulted Vinicius Jr., or others, on a soccer field, are asked in a street survey about their racist values or beliefs, it is likely that they will answer that they are not racist at all. . However, why on the football field did he say such barbaric things?
Let’s try to explain it from psychology. The reason is none other than that social influence that has instilled in us that belief, sometimes in a very subtle way, generating unconscious racism . Surveys are different from reality, due to the context in which they take place. When we have a basic learning created, especially in the earliest ages of our development, of any field that is, be it racist, of consumption or diverse ideologies, a pattern is created in our brain that generates a kind of image related to that belief, whether false or not.
When we evoke that image, our brain will process it automatically because it is easier for it to construct reality that way, so if that image was racist and a reflective process does not take place, the behavior that we are going to carry out will be the automatic and first created one. in our brain. For this reason, on a soccer field, where responsibility is diluted, emotions are triggered by the feeling of belonging and sympathy, our brain is more uninhibited, unlocked and without process control, therefore it will generate the automatic response: racist.
That same person, it is likely that in another type of environment, where he does have time to reflect or think better about what he says or does, he will meditate the answer better and say it in a more coherent, more responsible or perhaps more diplomatic way, but that does not mean say that internally he continues to have that initial racist belief, which is what we have to try to eradicate from the base. The only thing that has happened is that it has gone from automatic thinking to more rational, more controlled thinking, but let’s remember that human beings are emotional beings and that most of our initial behaviors go through that more automatic emotional response first, which only it changes when those root beliefs change. The ideal would be to generate automatic thoughts based on equality to avoid the brutal aversive racism that seems to grow in our society. And I say aversive, because it is what leads us to anger, hatred, social tension and violence to try to justify our own erroneous belief.
Strategies against racial discrimination
The best strategy to prevent racist behavior is education and information, but the truth, the scientific, the least biased possible and without political, economic or even personal interests. We must promote through education, among others, these qualities in our young people, who will be the adults of tomorrow:
- Emotional intelligence. It is essential to create an emotional culture, as we said before, we are emotional beings who are guided by what emotions arouse in us. Therefore, if we associate an emotion with wrong learning, due to a false belief on a certain issue, the emotion that will be generated will be in accordance with what has been learned, it is even normal for it to happen if it is not done well. Learning from an early age about the components of emotional intelligence such as empathy, self-control, self-awareness, social skills or assertiveness is essential for these automatic and emotional learning to be consistent with social reality.
- Critical thinking. Related to the above, our brain tends to think automatically, through what is called heuristics in psychology. This evolutionarily suits us because otherwise we would have to spend too much energy thinking rationally about the more than 35,000 problems that our brain has to respond to. Normally this works, because our learning is usually efficient, but it also generates biases and errors when processing in an automatic and non-reflective way. Reflection and critical thinking is what makes us more human , what makes us truly Homo Sapiens Sapiens . Critical thinking is the ability to doubt that what we have in front of us and that we tend to take as true is always true. If we do not promote this quality, we will believe everything we are told, therefore racist beliefs would always be taken as true, even if they are not. The example is that a child is going to believe everything you tell him, in his innocence and ignorance, it is normal. Therefore, let’s teach them to have that critical ability to make their own decisions and not aligned.
- Information. As I always say in my talks: we are all ignorant about many things, and we make mistakes, but let’s try to be less stupid. People who make mistakes due to lack of information are ignorant, but those who make mistakes despite having good information start to do foolish things. Even so, we will do nonsense, but let them be the least. For this, we need to transmit information and the ability to search for truthful, scientific and contrasted information with a good reference so that this belief becomes real and not biased by any ideology interested in other purposes. It is important that they know where the information comes from, to create a good belief about it. Boys and girls are learning sponges, therefore bringing information about other cultures , ethnic groups, evolution or even related historical events will foster the best intercultural relationship. Both for one and for the other, because racism is sometimes bidirectional, but attention is only focused on one of the parties and it should be on both.
- Talking. Sometimes we are afraid to talk to children about certain issues, including racial issues, sexual issues or those in which we ourselves, our previous generations have not known how to speak to us. It’s time to talk. Children are smarter than we think and understand everything that is explained to them. Speaking the people understand. For this reason, promoting class debates, or role-playing games to enhance empathy, can be a good strategy to improve this type of societal values.
- Play and let play. I said it before, two children of different ethnicities are going to play together and create bonds without the need for anything else. We are diverse social beings . Through games, sports, and the child’s interaction with various communities, they will encourage the generation of beliefs that are more in line with reality and less stereotyped. Sometimes it is adults who unconsciously instill this belief about who children should play with and who they should not play with. Playing is the best strategy, playing with equal knowledge is the best solution.
- Condemn racism. When there is any type of racist act or conduct, it must be condemned and not let go. Not giving importance is agreeing with the one who insults or discriminates without reason. This type of situation should not be tolerated so as not to naturalize the situation. By condemning, I mean not laughing at the neighbor’s joke, the classmate’s joke, or insulting, justifying that “everyone does it.” Just like on a football field.
- Biased information should be avoided, click bait headlines that no one reads or reviews later. In addition, not only to point out or report when bad things happen related to racism but when the opposite happens, because it does not always happen and good practices must be naturalized to reinforce that feeling of wanting to be part of them. The media and social networks are where most people get this information, which is why they are key in this process.
- Naturalize People. Without further ado, we are the same, but diverse, and that is natural and normal. Spot. Without further ado, without further ado, when we reach that natural situation we will have won the battle against racism.
Everyone’s work for everyone
Therefore, it is everyone’s job to fight against the scourge of racism, of discrimination of whatever kind it is. It is a tedious and complex task, which implies time and dedication that sometimes is not available or is not even of interest to everyone, due to irrational fears such as believing that certain groups limit our freedoms, the economy or employment; for favoring a few and not all. We must try to build an equitable society with real equality of conditions, because that will generate better prosperity for all. Sure.
A hug, humans.