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    Tuesday, March 27, 2018

    It Stops With Me: Ending Racial Discrimination


    By Salim Yunusa

    "If the Europeans would be back to colonize us today, you'd be working on their farms and I'd be the cook in their kitchen," my friend casually said, trying to pass this incredibly offensive statement as a joke. He was saying this because I'm "blacker" than him. Just thinking about how a fellow African like me can even be racist to me befuddles my mind.

    Unknown to him, I cherish my glistening skin. I embrace my color, and all the grace it comes with it. Black is indeed beautiful, and I'm all shades of beautiful. I usurp the power, the ambience and strength that being black comes with. I am proud of my African roots and heritage. I happily accept who I am and wouldn't allow my color to hold me back.

    Casual racism
    It's 2018, and we're still living in a world where racism and other types of discrimination thrives. The memories of Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martins and others are still fresh in our minds. This ugly trend that should've been forgotten in the history books is still very much alive, unfortunately. In fact, movements such as #BlackLivesMatter, #BlackIsBeautiful and a host of others are getting momentum due to the rising number of extreme discrimination and prejudice against the black race, particularly in the US.

    Here in Africa, we're still plagued with cases of occasional Xenophobia, Ethnic and Religious clashes and class and caste differences among others. These issues are stumbling blocks for Africa and Africans, especially when we need to come together and collectively grow and develop the continent.

    Another worrisome trend, especially among the youth, is casual racism. It refers to conduct involving negative stereotypes or prejudice about people on the basis of race, color, religion or ethnicity. It often comes off as harmless jokes, but it can marginalize, denigrate or humiliate those who experience it. Harm can occur even if conduct isn't motivated by hate or malice. Joking about matters of race – particularly of people of a different background – can also lead others to form unfavorable impressions of you. A classic example can be found all over social media, especially when Nigerians are trolling Ghanaians for being too black. Another example is the controversial H&M clothing line which featured a black child wearing a monkey hoodie. How long shall we continue to do this?

    The negative effects of negative
    Research demonstrates that racism can have adverse effects on people's physical and mental health. It can cause anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and high blood pressure.

    Racism can also exclude the target from wider society. It sends a message that they aren't welcome. It reinforces social barriers and attacks the dignity of the victim as an equal member of society. It can undermine civility and social cohesion.

    In a world where some leaders are putting up walls, we should learn to make bridges. We should understand that our love for what unites us is greater than the hate which divides us. We are one human kind, and we're different shades of beauty. No race is superior to another, as we were all created equal.

    It’s our duty to end racism
    Arguably, our generation is the most tolerant and open generation the world has had...yet. We're more understanding, more sensitive and more active in speaking up and against things that are holding us back. Now, it's up to us, the youth, to execute this Herculean task. We're the future leaders; the natural successors to this world. It therefore is our duty to end racism in all its ramifications. Our children and their children should only know racism from history books, not experience it firsthand.

    A change in social attitudes is necessary for combating racism. Everyone can contribute to this change through speaking up against racism when they encounter it. We need to have honest discussions about the past and the present, so as to ensure a brighter future for all. We need to be more accommodating, tolerant and open towards ourselves and others. We need to educate and enlighten ourselves and others, starting right from the grassroots level to the highest level there is in our societies.

    Most importantly, it stops with you and me. So, today, tell yourself that racism "stops with me". Only then can we have a progressive society where one wouldn't be judged by his color or appearance and that's when the world begins to be a better place.

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