Are you racist? Yes but so am I. We all are.
Are you racist? Yes you are. But so am I. We are all racists, deep in our DNA.
Let’s face reality. We are all born to discriminate. Why? Because the resources on this planet have always been, and will always be, limited. When there is not enough for everyone, you are forced to fight to secure your piece of the pie. It’s the instinct for survival, it’s the law of nature. And discrimination – rules to brutally exclude people who don’t belong to your group so that yours can take all – has always been one of the most effective ways to secure your share as a group, especially when the total size of the pie was severely limited. That’s why authoritarianism, harsh social class systems, oppression, exploitation were norm in pre-modern times. Even though we live in an “advanced” society in the 21st century, that mentality is still deep in our DNA.
But as much as we were born to discriminate, we were also born to love. We have compassion, empathy, kindness, tolerance and generosity to fight the instinctive urge to belittle others for our favor. After tens of thousands of years of incessant fights among so many different groups, modern societies finally achieved democracy, in which we have a moral principle, an aspiration or an objective, to achieve a society that treats everyone equally and fairly – the “all lives matter” slogan. However, even in the 21st century after democracy made a lot of progress, it still remains a slogan/aspiration. We haven’t lived up to our goal to literally make every single life equally matter. The reality is “black lives (should also have) mattered (but they didn’t in many cases),” along with all other kinds of discrimination that never disappeared. The reason why “all lives matter” is not appropriate in response to black lives matter is because it’s comparing a principle/idealism to the reality. It’s an apples-to-oranges comparison that distracts the issue that exists in the real world.
But what does this mean? As much as we want a society in which everyone is respected, loved and treated equally, part of us is resisting. We are torn. We are torn between an instinct to belittle others and desire to love and to be loved. Which is stronger? As an animal programmed to maximize the chance of survival, the instinct might be stronger. Even if it doesn’t take an extreme form of racism, we always try to position ourselves higher than others by using unfair factors such as family status, appearances or handicaps. As it turns out, it takes a lot of LEARNING to start loving others, especially the ones that do not belong to your group. You need to make a conscious efforts to overcome your instincts, and you have to make a conscious efforts to spread it in your family and community. The road for anti-discrimination is a long process of learning each individual has to take on. It’s not a given. You try to learn to become less and less discriminatory. None of us is exempt from the effort. And the difficult truth is, it’s often painful to learn the truth and history. But you are not alone. It’s painful for everyone.
Road for anti-discrimination is a personal issue. There is no race or group of people that are CATEGORICALLY right or wrong. There are always all kinds of different people in any group. Wherever we are, we need to take it as a personal challenge. We should not attack other people categorically – it’s totally different from asking for systemic reforms. Putting individual person in a group and attack them collectively creates unnecessary tension and make them overly defensive. While the movement needs collective engagement from every corner, we shouldn’t forget that, at the end of the day, this is a personal challenge. This is your issue. This is my issue. If most of us take it as a personal challenge, it will become a huge movement.