We have seen the rise of racism and racial tension since the threat of Covid-19 become dominant in the US and Canada. We have heard reports from people about the treatment they received because of their looks. We have seen the news report about an elderly Chinese man with dementia being thrown out of a grocery store physically by another white client because he was ignorantly afraid. As much as Covid-19 is a real threat to us, racism might just be a more serious threat because social and cultural distancing might make it worse.
Fear plays a significant role in racism. The best approach we might need to have is to acknowledge that we all have some degree of fear toward people and cultural groups that we are not familiar with. I met some people who have serious concerns about the existence of a specific cultural group and yet they have never tried to befriend or to get to know anyone from that specific group. Fear can be based on ignorance. Fear can be based on a generalization of one negative experience we have. Fear can also be the outcome of negative gossip about people. We are no longer just afraid. We discover that hate is now brewing underneath that fear.
The environment we were raised and grew up in plays another important role in our fear. Many Vietnamese, for example, were raised with intrinsic dislike toward Chinese. Our history tells us about 1000 years of war we had against the Chinese. Our children depend on us for their own environment when they are young. Sometimes we don’t realize how much our speech and humour are foundational in establishing that environment. Hate doesn’t have to be violent in order to be destructive. Hate can just be an act of indifference or despise toward another human being or a group of people.
Let us not just react toward what we see as injustice. Let us take one step further in seeking understanding. We can only do so if we are willing to confront our own biases. Injustice will be conquered by mercy when that transpires.
“An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, but one whose way is straight is an abomination to the wicked.” (Proverbs 29:27)