How to Respond to Racism

Refugees and Racism Part 3

In part 1 of this series we discussed the origins of racism, the concept of white privilege and how refugees and racism are connected. In part 2 we clarified the difference between the legitimate policies of sovereign nations and unnecessary racism. Today, in our final installment I want to get really practical and discuss how to respond to racism in several specific ways.

How to Respond to Racism: It Starts With You

Before we can worry about combatting racism on a governmental or societal level, we must first address any subtle racism that may exist in ourselves. The first step to recognizing subtle racial biases in yourself is to become aware of them and educate yourself about things like white privilege and the origins of racism. If you've read parts 1 and 2 of this series, then congratulations, you're already a step ahead!

Don't Stereotype

We all do it. We all place people in stereotyped categories as a way of organizing our surroundings and experiences. Strive to become more aware of when you are doing this. Do you tense up or become more aware when a black or darker-skinned man walks by you? Do you assume certain things about a woman who is wearing a hijab or traditional clothing? Recognize your default reaction to people who are different from you and resist the urge to put them in a box. Don't assume you know everything about them based on appearance alone. They are unique people with individual beliefs, values, preferences, and quirks.

[bctt tweet="Don't assume you know everything about a person based on appearance alone. #SaynotoRacism" username="refugee_review"]

Make Judgements Based on Character, Not Color

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

Martin Luther King's quote is well known, but unfortunately his dream has still not become a universal reality. If we strive not to unjustly stereotype others, then the next step is to make our judgements based on character. This requires actually knowing people from various backgrounds as both friends and acquaintances. We often see the world and understand it through the eyes of our friends. If my friends are all exactly like me, then my understanding is not going to grow and I won't be challenged to learn anything new. But if I have friends from different cultures, backgrounds, and social classes, I will have a more accurate understanding of reality.

Learn About the Pros and Cons of Immigration and Refugee Resettlement

In our politically charged climate where anti-refugee and anti-immigration policy are significant election issues, don't believe everything you hear, but make a point to educate yourself about the pros and cons of having immigrants and refugees in our country. A great resource is Seeking Refuge, a book that releases today and explains the global refugee crisis and the process of refugee resettlement and discusses the risks and rewards of resettling refugees in the US.

How to Respond to Racism: Changing the Status Quo

The most important thing we can do to combat racism is to change our own perceptions and understandings of race by implementing the two steps above. Once we've made those changes, we can begin to gently influence those around us.

[bctt tweet="The most important thing we can do to combat #racism is to change our own perceptions of race. " username="refugee_review"]

Correct Others When They Make Racist Comments

Most people who say something racially charged do so out of ignorance rather than malicious intent. If one of your friends says something insensitive, don't be afraid to gently draw their attention to why their comment might be offensive. You can play a role in helping your friends understand that many people don't see the world the same way they do. Racism can only be cured one person at a time, so don't be afraid to share what you're learning about race with others.

[bctt tweet="Racism can only be cured one person at a time. Don't be afraid to speak up when you hear something offensive. #SaynotoRacism " username="refugee_review"]

If You're a Business Owner, Hire Refugees and Immigrants

Small business owners can make a powerful statement when they hire refugees and immigrants. Both tend to be hard workers and eager to learn new skills so that they can provide for their families. Many refugees and immigrants are taken advantage of and paid lower wages because they may not be aware of their rights and standards of equal wages. Read this article if you want to learn more about how refugees can be an asset to your business.

If you're wondering how to respond to racism, these are just a few ways that you can begin to make a difference, but there are countless other ways that you can change your thinking and the conversation about refugees and racism if you just remain aware of the issues.

What other ideas can you think of for how to respond to racism on a daily basis?

Let me know in the comments. 

Image Source: Flickr