Monday, June 12, 2006

Why so much hate?


In my mind, racism has always been a U.S. problem. We have such a negative history with different ethnic groups--taking away the land of Native Americans, bringing Africans to enslave them, taking land from Mexico, using water hoses, lynching and physical abuse on African-Americans, and subjecting the Japanese in internment camps. Though, in some ways, we have made some steps forward, we seem to be slipping backward in many ways as well.

I'm finding out that racism isn't solely an American problem. Not to long ago, a friend of mine told me about the racism that also goes on in Europe, mainly targeted toward Black soccer players--to the point of the crowd yelling monkey chants and throwing bananas and peanuts at the players. There has also become a strong anti-immigration sentiment as well. With the World Cup going on, the racism is getting a little more publicity. I'm not sure whether Europeans are mimicking our issues in the United States or simply creating their own hate. I can't figure out what prompts people to hate others just because they have a darker color of skin. The irony is that this is taking place in Germany! You would think Germans would be much more sensitive to race and immigration issues because of their past!

At the initiation of some of the players, Nike has begun a campaign against the racism called Stand Up, Speak Up. For more information on the campaign, go to www.standupspeakup.com. Nike has created two interlocking armbands--one black, one white--saying Stand Up, Speak Up so that people in the stands and players have a way of saying they don't agree with the racist practices without having to deal with the confrontation.

Even though I think people with such overt racist attitudes need to be confronted, sometimes it's good to make the statement without ever saying a word. One researcher I've read talks about the "White Racial Bonding" that happens between White people where they make a derogatory statement about another group to create that bonding between them. (ex: "Can you believe how the neighborhood has gone downhill? It used to be so nice before." ...referring to other racial/ethnic groups that have now moved into the neighborhood). We all need to stand up and speak up. Overt racism is not only in Europe. It's in the United States, too. Our silence on the issue implies agreement. Speak up.

Check the website out. Watch the TV commercial. Powerful stuff.
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