Of the words and actions most noticeable during the riots, protests and unrest that has followed the death of George Floyd in the USA, it has been the trend to use some process of transference to make just about anything relevant to the anger that protestors have by branding it as being racist too.
A significant group of mainly young people rightly feel disenfranchised from a system that cares little about who they are, where they are from and what they do.
What they do not realise is that beyond Westminster and the Establishment system, we all feel this way. We just have a different way of looking at the World because we have had more time looking and thinking about it.
Groupthink has taken over to such an extent that racism, like many other isms that represent prejudice against certain groups is now being identified and attacked like it is a conscious, considered and deliberate dark political philosophy.
Yet racism and all these innate prejudices that so many of us unwittingly carry are a basic animalistic or intrinsic level reaction to difference.
Too many of us possess prejudices against others for the world to be as fair as it should be. But few are self-aware enough to understand and value the differences in the way that they feel about others and everything that appears to be outside of them.
We do not like anything that is different to the image and perceptions that we have of ourselves. As we look outwards. the easiest way to define or differentiate ourselves against others is by the colour of our skin.
But that same process works at different levels and in different ways with wealth, sexual orientation, race and nationality, level of education, social standing, demographics and even our view and approach to any gender different than ourselves.
Difference is important because it is the easiest way for us to define ourselves and our state of being against others who will then either elevate within our perceptions so that they stand above us and we look up to them – perhaps as celebrities and people we look up to, or we use as leverage to elevate and place ourselves above them and look down upon them – perhaps as if they have no value or do not qualify to have the same things or same experiences that we do in some way.
The recognition of differences between us and the process that goes with it runs like a background computer programme. No matter what anyone might say if they are challenged about the innate prejudices that they may or may not have, few will really be able to identify the real cause of what makes them prejudiced and the assumption will remain that it is either a cultural thing or they have been conditioned in some way.
Prejudice works in all directions too. A viral spread comes into play where the racism or prejudice about one will be mirrored towards everyone who looks or behaves similarly in some way.
The flow of prejudice is not one way and cannot be defined so simply as the oppressor is racist to the oppressed as the intrinsic reaction of the oppressed is to be equally racist about their oppressor(s) too. The harsh reality of what protestors are doing is that they are practicing an inverted form of racism and prejudice too which is invariably just as bad because they are accusing whole sets of people or professionals of being exactly the same, often in very sinister ways.
Confirmation bias is a big part of the problem too and steps in at every opportunity that it can. Any behaviour or action that can be interpreted negatively to reinforce that initial feeling of discomfort and doubt which was genuine, grows automatically and evolves itself at an emotional and therefore highly charged and dangerous level too.
As we look outside ourselves, it is rare that we realise or understand the way that we are constantly being conditioned by the media and by the world around us to think and behave. But it is the behaviour of the media that opens the floodgates that allow prejudices to come marching in.
The process is very nuanced and begins at a level where there is either extreme positive prejudice or on the negative scale, there is simply none.
Think in terms of how you view the actions, behaviours, misdemeanors and even crimes of the people who are most like you. Your family.
No matter what your family members do, can they really do any wrong? Would you stick up for family members and fight their corner because you know and trust that they are intrinsically good, no matter what they do?
If family are level 1, then your friends and the people you most closely align yourself are level 2 and within these groups you will overlook differences because whilst you have a good relationship, you see them as being the same as you. ‘You make allowances’ in the same or a similar way, and there is a bizarre reality that whatever you are used to in life becomes normality and it is everything else beyond that normality where your prejudices will be found.
As you look at what could be a series of many levels the differences increase too. We look for the easiest way to stereotype, identify and anchor those differences and skin colour is probably one of the easiest that we will ever identify.
When you have watched a video like that of the ‘arrest’ of George Floyd, it is easy to understand how so many can conclude that racism is a very conscious and highly malevolent act and that anyone who can be deemed to be racist must either be punished or have their behviour changed or doctored in some way.
As Hanlon’s Razor says, we should “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”.
Whether it is the people who project or behave in ways which we consider to be racist, or it is those who look on and accuse them of being racist, it is a hard truth to accept that it is mostly stupidity or downright ignorance that makes all of us prejudiced about others in some way.
Solving the problem of prejudice should never have been easier than it could be today.
But what we collectively fail to understand is that the championing of difference and the messages that are crafted to promote the interests of any group with the aim of promoting equality makes the differences between groups even more profound.
The message being heard is that we are all different and need to be the same. But it is the people who are not in these groups that are the ones who are wrong to be different and that it is they who must now change.
If we really want to have and experience the kind of equality between all peoples, all races and all groups in each and every way that we can, we will have to be led and inspired to understand, believe and live the reality that differences between us are nothing more than perceptions and that whatever they might be, we are all, collectively equal and we are fundamentally just the same.
It is all about creating a condition of familiarity and conscious acceptance of difference that can only be facilitated if we learn from every angle that the differences between all of us are no big deal from the start.