People don’t know what it feels like to be discriminated until it happens to them. As people of many cultures and ethnicities, my friends and I were discriminated against due to our race.
We were given names that we didn’t approve of, stereotypes were used against us, and others made us feel like we were worth less than everyone else. It was as if we were being told, “You don’t fit in with the white people, stop trying.”
Many people may say they understand racism, or may talk about racism as though they understand it, but the truth it, very few truly comprehend the reach and power of racism.
Being racist gives people power. It provides them an opportunity to push people down and gain, and maintain, a sense of superiority. It shouldn’t be true, but unfortunately it is. Discrimination, in any form, is dehumanising and humiliating, it leaves people questioning themselves and their self-worth. It forces people to believe they are not individuals, rather one of many others in a group that we were born into, stripping people of their agency.
And this is a proliferate problem, stretching even into entertainment, specifically in Hollywood and the film industry, and especially with the Oscars. Hollywood is infamous for its lack of diversity, and yet people are only just beginning to realise it.
This was also the second year in a row when the Academy did not nominate a single person of colour in the four major acting nominations.
Many viewers and celebrities spoke up on the issue, including Chris Rock, the host of the Oscars, who was straightforward with his negative views on Hollywood’s racism.
I find it difficult to grasp that this is still a problem we are facing in 2016, in the 21st century. Why is it so difficult for people to accept that there are going to be people of different cultures and colours in a world with 196 countries, and even more cultures and ethnicities?
Today’s society has hypnotised everyone to think that the amount of pigments in our skin defines our value as humans.
It is important to remember that this is not a simple problem. We cannot stop racism by donating money, protesting around the streets, or brainwashing anyone. The only way that we can stop racism is to build influence.
Racism was brought upon humanity by influence. It began with people in power who enforced their belief that we can define people by their race.
They reached out to the world and created a status quo that accepts racism.
We can do the same to put an end to it. As one human race in one world, we can work together and promote equality between races by reaching for greater heights of influence, and reshaping the status quo to reject racism in its every form.