Monday, December 14, 2009

Let’s fight racism together

Who is not a racist after all?

The recent debate over the Biro Tata Negara (BTN) has cast a spotlight over a much bigger issue of racism than whether the BTN needs a revamp. It was extremely amusing to see senior politicians accusing each other of being racist as though being a racist. The words ‘racist’ and ‘racism’ that were shunned all these years have become the issue of public focus. It is an indication of the people’s maturity in willing to openly debate issues that were previously banned because of their perceived sensitivity.

The Cambridge dictionary defines racism as the belief that people's qualities are influenced by their race and that the members of other races are not as good as the members of your own, or the resulting unfair treatment of members of other races.

A racist is therefore someone who believes that other races are not as good as his own and therefore treats them unfairly. Going by the definition we are all racists to a certain degree as we harbor that inherent racist trait to a certain extent.
Institutional racism is when treating people unfairly because of their race has become part of the normal behaviour of people within an organization, party or country. Slavery and the apartheid policy of the past were clear examples of institutionalized racism.

Racism is condemned by all major religions of the world and abhorred by man throughout history. Despite that it was one of the greatest problems that plagued mankind throughout the ages and unfortunately continues to do so till today. Wars, riots and violence due to racial strive may have killed more people than natural disasters and diseases. Race of an individual is believed to be a God-given gift and is beyond our control but it continues to be the cause of misery for millions around the globe.

Malaysia is no different from others and we have our share of racism which rears its ugly head from time to time. The ongoing debate on racism is an indication that finally we may to be getting out of our state of denial and beginning to accept racism does indeed exist in the minds of our people to some extent. This awareness may be the beginning of our people’s concerted war against this evil that is threatening the peace, harmony and progress of the nation.

This could be attributed to the political system that tends to segregate the races in every area of human activity. This has created a generation of Malaysians who are highly conscious of their ethnic origin. They prefer to regard themselves more as Malays, Chinese and Indians than Malaysians, interacting with those of their own race. They may appear to be living happily together side by side but the differences among them are dividing them more than the commonness that unites them.

Our education system too tends to segregate the races from a very young age, as early as kindergarten level. At an age when children of all races should be mingling freely to interact with one another, they are separated for whatever reasons, into their own communal groups and forced to compete for straight ‘A’s in their examinations. When such children grow up in ethnic isolation there is no chance for them to understand the cultures and traditions of fellow Malaysians from other races. How can they be expected to respect each other’s differences?

It is unfortunate that we have today a new generation of Malaysians who are so racially charged so much so they become very sensitive and intolerant to even the most trivial comments and criticisms from members of other races. Under these circumstances forging racial goodwill and integration is a difficult task but if we do not start now in our own surrounding how can we expect our politicians to do so at the national levels where it is far more complex and challenging?

Basically all of us are racists to some extent as this feeling of ethnic superiority exists in the hearts all of us. Instead accusing one another as being racist, our politicians should accept that we are all guilty of that evil and make amends to overcome it in whatever way we can.

The great men on whom the major religions were founded rose above racial divide to advocate a common brotherhood of man. Unfortunately although we claim to be ardent followers of these great men in actual fact we are very far away from the ideals of their teachings in our words and deeds.

Being a nation of religiously inclined people who firmly uphold the believe in God we must subscribe to the concept of the brotherhood of the human race. We are all His children regardless of race and creed. As such we must strive to rid ourselves of the inherent racist trait from our hearts to regard all men as equal.

Dr.Chris Anthony

1 comment:

Carl said...

The racism must disspear in the world,it's incredible it in this age yet....we must support the racial integration and respect our ethnic identity and others communities...

Historic Parliament after historic GE14

  New Parliament symbol of hope and democracy Congratulations to all our newly elected MPs. The first session of the 14th ...