Why is it important to reduce racial prejudice and racism?
Here are some further reasons why racial prejudice and racism should be reduced:
They impede or prevent the object of racism from achieving his or her full potential as a human being.
They impede or prevent the object of racism from making his or her fullest contribution to society.
They impede or prevent the person or group engaging in racist actions from benefiting from the potential contributions of their victim, and, as a result, weaken the community as a whole.
They increase the present or eventual likelihood of retaliation by the object of racist actions.
They go against many of the democratic ideals upon which the United States and other democracies were founded.
Racism is illegal, in many cases.
Racial prejudice and racism feed on each other. If racial prejudice is not reduced, it could lead to racism, and if racism is not addressed, it could lead to more prejudice. This is why strategies to address discrimination on the basis of race should be thorough and multifaceted so that both individual attitudes and institutionalized practices are affected.
In addition, here are some examples of why racial prejudice and racism should be addressed in your community building effort if more than one racial or ethnic group is involved:
Every participant in your effort has his or her own understanding of the world and how it works. The European American residents in the neighborhood don't understand why the new immigrants from Guatemala have to stand at the street corner to get work (they are commonly referred to as day laborers). They think it is because they are either "illegal" or too lazy to find full-time jobs. Part of the problem is that the residents have not had the opportunity to debunk these stereotypes through direct interaction and contact with the day laborers and to hear their stories.
Every participant in your effort is polite, respectful, and empathetic towards each of the others, and understands that in order to address a common concern, they all have to work together; yet, they have not been able to engage a representative from the African American group in their community. It helps to understand why African Americans have traditionally been "left out" and how important it is to keep finding ways to engage them.
The board of directors of a local community center gets together to discuss ways to improve the center so that it is more welcoming to people from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. They come up with ideas such as hiring more culturally diverse staff, posting notices in different languages, hosting food festivals, and celebrating various cultural events. It helps the participants to understand that even though they are taking the first steps to becoming culturally sensitive, their institutional policies may still be racist because they have not included anyone from the various racial and ethnic groups to participate in the strategic planning process, thereby not sharing their power.
Addressing racial prejudice and racism also means dealing with racial exclusion and injustice. Ultimately, this means that your community building effort is promoting democracy, a value of the United States and its Constitution.
In other words, there are both moral and sometimes legal reasons to act against racism. There are also strong pragmatic reasons as well. Racial prejudice and racism can harm not only the victims, but also the larger society, and indirectly the very people who are engaging in the acts. What's more, some important new research suggests that in some cases, racist actions can cause physiological harm to the victims. For example, a recent review of physiological literature concludes:
"Interethnic group and intraethnic group racism are significant stressors for many African-Americans. As such, intergroup and intragroup racism may play a role in the high rates of morbidity and mortality in this population." (Clark, Anderson, Clark, and Williams, 1999).
Andre's purpose is to reconnect people to their Dignity and Honor in Being Human.