In case you’ve never met me, it may be relevant to know that my skin is likely darker than yours. Just a hunch, but my lineage traces back to an indigenous people, with no known mixing outside of the race.
Yet, when I see people of the same or different complexions, here and abroad, I often find myself momentarily projecting assumptions about wealth, intelligence, and strength. There is even a quick subconscious assessment of my advantage or perhaps my vulnerabilities.
Instincts, I think that’s what we call them. They are these emotional and mental shortcuts we’ve developed throughout our lives to increase our likelihood of survival and success. Evolutionarily, instincts evolve slowly in nature and time proves out those that are valid.
Our reality as humans has taken a bit of a turn from the rest of nature. The instincts we have now are not our own any more. They are derivatives of the content we digest. We listen and watch news stories and view social media updates passively, not realizing they are changing us faster than any other evolutionary change I have ever heard of.
When I hear the word terrorist, why does my mind already have a profile ready? What about words like poor, rich, techie, tree-hugger, banker, athlete,… you name it, we have been trained to expect certain people to fit these profiles.
Like it or not, this is our current reality. Accepting this however, is how we begin to empower the change most of us would assume to be the right change. Accepting this, means becoming more conscious of the content we consume. More aware of how our consumption drives business, which drives more of the same content.
Human nature is predictable in that we ultimately do what works. Sadly, we have seen that being racist (or similarly sexist) works for far too many people in too many parts of the world.
Those of us who are aware can unwind our “-ist” tendencies by starting to create balance in our consumption. For every negative stereotype we are exposed to, can we actively seek out a counter? If our media sources continue to only focus on the negative, do we have the courage to cut them off and let them know why?
Make a change first for yourself, then bring others along. In time, as we change the nature of what “works,” we can heal our race, the human one…