Can we rid the world of racism?
“How I lived in the forest, or in the forests, plural. I don’t know, but it’s an amazing thing, when one is hungry and completely, uh, demoralized, you become inventive. I never… when I even say it I don’t believe it. I ate worms. I ate bugs. I ate anything that I could put in my mouth. And I don’t know, sometimes i would get very ill. There were some wild mushrooms, I’m sure they were poison, I don’t know, poisonous ones. I was ill. My stomach was a mess, but i still put it in my mouth because I needed to have something to chew. I drank water from puddles. Snow. Anything that I could get a hold of. Sometimes I would sneak into potato cellars that the farmers have around their villages, and that was a, a good hiding place because it was a little warmer in the winter. But there were rodents there and all. And, uh, to say that I ate raw rats, yes, I did. Apparently I wanted to live very, very badly, because I did indescribable things. I ate things that no one would dream of being able to. Somehow I survived. I don’t know why. I keep asking myself. But I did.” -Charlene Schiff, born 1929, Horochow Poland.
Everyone has felt oppressed, mistreated or disrespected at one point in their lives. Yet, there was one point in history where a whole mass of people faced death in the face and lost; the Holocaust.
Over six million Jewish people were murdered under Hitler’s extermination plan and after the Nuremburg trials humanity promised something like this would never happen again. Can someone completely rid the world of racism? It is a good idea in theory but impossible. Racism is still very prevalent in our lives today whether it is small comments passing through the hallways of a school or the mistreatment of any other race or religion. Because of globalization and technology, most people would assume that we are advancing as a society and something as trivial as racism would be eradicated from schools, but it has progressively gotten worse as things like the internet play a larger role in our lives.
The internet is causing people, teenagers especially, too lose something very important, and that is real relationships. The more time teenagers spend online is less time actually interacting with real people, therefore causing poor conversation skills and awkwardness when teens are faced with the daunting task of dealing with anything face to face. The internet desensitizes the people who regularly use it for social media to the feelings, emotions, and reactions to the people on the other side of the screen. Thus, making them feel more powerful and in control because they can convince themselves that it isn’t a real person they are talking too. Empowering them to say whatever they want. This is a major cause of bullying in our schools and ultimately racism.
Trivializing things of the likes of bullying and racism is also a very big problem in our society. When kids are at home no one is monitoring their activities and no parent wants to believe that their son or daughter is crushing the confidence of another. Adults would like to push this issue away saying that society has evolved and we don’t have to worry about these kinds of things anymore, but this is not the case. I personally have witnessed at least five accounts of racism a week during school time. And these are just in passing comments heard. Imagine all of the things that are said unheard.
Websites like Imgur.com and 4chan make race into a joke, and it may seem harmless but it convinces their readers gradually, that maybe these kinds of jokes are alright. Maybe these comments and one-liners will make people laugh like I laughed, they would say to themselves. Here comes when the bully convinces themselves they are not a bully, which makes it more dangerous. If a person doesn’t believe what they are doing is wrong then they may feel more inclined to say it more freely. Where it is over the internet and you cannot see the hurt look in the other person’s eyes. This is the true danger of the internet taking over our lives. We will lose our empathy for others. And empathy is something that truly makes us human.
In my own experience I have had comments made too me about my race occasionally. I have grown up in Fredericton, New Brunswick for practically my whole life, so all my classmates already know who I am and I think that makes a difference when it comes to racist comments. I can speak perfect English and generally act like everyone else. The growing population of foreign students at Fredericton High School is incredible and most of them aren’t as lucky as I am. If someone walks into our school and casually passes through any hall they will most likely run into a group of foreign students talking to each other in their own language, and if they walk a little father they will most likely see an English student mimicking or mocking the foreign students. The English student will never be reprimanded and every student knows it. That fact alone, knowing that you will not get caught, encourages more students to make uncalled for jests or comments to these students. This is one of the most common forms of racism in our school today. Another form would be in the classroom setting. If something smelled a little off from the science department or someone caught a whiff of another person’s cultural food, some people would automatically look towards the foreign student and whisper behind their back. Causing more students to join in and silently attack the student who would not even understand what they were saying even if they had heard.
That must be the real question though. Is it still racism and uncalled for if the person on the receiving end is unaware of what is going on? The answer is yes. Whether or not they understand doesn’t matter, WE know what is right and what is wrong. And that is what makes the difference. English students should take this into their own hands and attempt to stop ridiculing, especially to someone who cannot even verbally defend themselves.
Whether it be over the internet or in passing at school, racism happens more and more each day in an average teenagers life. There have not been very many options to help this case, and we will not know how to fix it for a long while, but for the time being teenagers can attempt to go throughout their days without making a comment of this sort. Even this small act will increase the chances of reducing racism in our schools.
The account of Charlene Schiff was from a very extreme time under the Nazi regime. This is the extreme that racism can come to, and that we promised never to reach again. Will we be able to avoid another massacre like the Holocaust? It is in our hands and we just need to grab the reigns and attempt to rid ourselves of racism. Charlene’s story is one of hundreds of thousands just like it. We cannot let our generation or the ones to come to produce something of so much hate. It starts, with us.