My World

The world according to me!

Racism on the Internet

Once people have the freedom to express themselves they will use it. The results won’t always be pretty. In some cases they won’t always be true.

That’s how I feel about racism on the Internet. People have the freedom to say the most positive heart warming things. They also have the ability to say the most soul crushing things, and Lord do they. As a black woman I’m very sensitive about issues of racism. It upsets me the things people say online.

I understand how tempting racism can be; how easy it is to fall into. I do! It’s so easy, in a way it’s like your mind is working against you. But if you understand the process, you can help yourself.

In a nutshell I can explain it like this. Your brain has a lot of things to process for you to function. Between controlling your breathing, movement, sight, thinking and a whole heap of other things your brain is busy. So when it comes to thinking it creates templates so that it can process information quicker. Really this isn’t a bad thing, because you don’t have to use your energy thinking about breathing in and out. The templates also come in handy when you have to understand the world in which you live.  You learn about your family, and you create a personality template for your parents, siblings and everybody you come in contact with. You also have one for ethnicities, nationalities, scientists, boys, women etc.

The problem with these cognitive templates is that they affect how you see the world. You’re  bombarded with a lot of information on a daily basis, but to prevent your brain for going into shock from information overload, your template makes the information that agrees with your template easier to retain, and the rest easier to forget.

Stereotyping occurs when our templates are flawed, and we hold on to the information that fits with our bias. So if we believe black people are criminals, we’ll remember the “proof” that reinforces this view. Information about non-criminal black people will be ignored, or we have less of an inclination to retain this type of information.

But if you’re aware of your bias, you can fight it. You can alter your thinking; and you can do that by working to change your perception. You can change your perception by actively seeking out information that challenges your view. In other words, you need to be selective about the information you’re ingesting regardless of media.

In terms of changing your perception, especially where race is concerned, the Humanities and Social Sciences are your friend. History is probably the most important subject ever! Literature, Psychology and Sociology should all take their turns in the top spot, when it comes to dealing with racism.

Why? Because racism is a human affliction, and these subjects, explore and explain the human experience. History puts your world in context; it can help answer the “why are we here”, “how did we get here” kind of questions. At least in a physical sense. The Transatlantic Slave Trade was only just abolished, in terms of human growth and development. Many of the dangerous practises we developed during that awful period still remain. Hence the “good hair” discussion is still relevant in 2008. That’s also why Shadism (light skin versus dark skin) in the black community is still an issue.

We’ve internalised the hate, and its coming out online. Here’s the funny thing, black people aren’t the only victims of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, white people have also been damaged by it as well, but as the hegemonic group in society, they can cover their pain well.

Clearly we all need therapy. But for those you prefer at home remedies, I’ll explain why I listed the subjects above in an up coming post. I mean people really, we can do better, really prejudice serves no one.

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1 Comment»

  anonyjw wrote @

This was a good read.

Will check out your links later and comment with a bit more depth!


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