Sparked by the death of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement has become a polarizing discourse worldwide. It’s understandable—the campaign raises issues about personal biases that are uncomfortable to acknowledge.
The situation is unpleasant because there’s truth to the idea that everyone is biased in some way. Even if you feel that you’re open-minded, you have intrinsic beliefs that say otherwise, which is not necessarily an undesirable trait.
Our Experiences Form Our Beliefs
Perhaps, you battled to understand mathematics at school. You now feel that you’re stupid, and this belief causes you to miss out on a lot in life.
You might skip studying further because you feel you are not bright enough. Perhaps you never bet at Gclub (จีคลับ) because you feel you can’t work out the odds accurately. The point is that this idea holds you back, but it is also subjective.
Here’s a titbit that may change your mind: Einstein hated school. One of the most brilliant thinkers in history did well in some subjects but failed others. His teachers viewed him as an average student, but he read college-level physics books at the age of eleven.
Einstein acknowledged that it wasn’t the material, but rather the method of teaching that he hated. His teachers looked on him as lazy and must have told him as much.
If he had believed the teachers’ opinions about his capabilities, he’d have led an unremarkable life.
The teachers could have taken more time with him, honing his potential. Those individuals might have failed Einstein because they were too rigid in their beliefs or too biased to recognize his brilliance.
There Is Always More Than One Way
Einstein’s story teachers us that it is not wrong to hold incorrect beliefs. The fault lies in not being able or willing to acknowledge that there are many sides to the same coin. A community can only flourish when each person is willing to adjust their views and learn about others.
How Does That Relate To Black Lives Matter?
In our mathematics example, you may question whether that belief is correct. Could a different teaching method have made a difference in your life? Unless you take the subject again, you’ll never know, and you may continue believing something false about yourself.
The Black Lives Matter movement highlights issues that everyone must consider, too. The campaign is about changing views. You may never have used a racial slur or treated people of a different ethnic group any differently, but it doesn’t mean that you’re unbiased.
Everyone must support the Black Lives Matter movement because with all the advances society has made, there’s still a feeling of “us” and “them” dividing nations. Be honest, do you believe that black people are over-reacting? Or do you feel threatened by the grains of truth shaken loose in the wake of the uprising?
You’re doing yourself a disservice. Even if you’ve never seen it in action or perpetrated acts of racism, it still exists. Have you ever walked into a store and been followed by security because of your skin color? Do you teach your kids how to be non-threatening around law enforcement, so they don’t get shot?
What Can You Do?
There’s prevailing, overt racism in society today, as in the past. What’s more damaging is the subtle racism caused by your incorrect or assumed beliefs about others. It’s time to start challenging those beliefs.
Unless society works toward a point where skin doesn’t color relationships, racism will remain.