Sunday, 10 January 2010

Racial attacks

It seems to me that authorities are too ready to jump to the conclusion that current reports of attacks on Indian students "do not appear to be racially motivated". It seems a strange thing to say when it's likely that so-called 'opportunistic' attacks... that is when someone happens to be beaten up for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.... are likely to find at least a partial trigger in the peculiarity that we present.
A fat person will be insulted for being fat, a woman will be insulted as a woman and a man as a man, it is not unreasonable to think that the opportunistic bully might use the colour of a person's skin to begin a process of violence. Is this opportunism or racism?
My point made in a previous post is that we should be starting to articulate heavy and direct messages that racism is an unacceptable frame of reference to invoke. Psychologists tell us attitudes are difficult to change, but they can be changed given if we commit the time and the effort.
The trouble is that just pretending that there is not racism, or that it is not the only or even the key element, is too weak an attitude.
Most of us know that it is all too easy to use a person's race to define them in ways that race cannot define...we need to start seeking to change attitudes and articulating this most strongly. Race does not define characteristics like honesty, morality, integrity. These greater human characteristics are not the mere foibles of race.

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