I have frequently observed that most people lower their voices when talking about racism. I have often wondered if the whispering is because racism is a shared secret amongst initiated insiders because there is a social conscience about its political incorrectness, or simply because it is a taboo subject. In any case, it is always a thrilling and enlightening experience to take apart, analyze and reflect about forbidden subjects.
Having lived in Canada for the last 20 years of my life, I have had the undesirable opportunity to witness racism in all its local subtle shades as well as to hear the indiscernible whispers it generates. Fortunately, I have never been a victim of racism, since the perpetrators are the only real victims of racism; the rest of us are simply inconvenienced, offended, indifferent or pleased witnesses.
Most dictionaries define “delusion” as an irrational belief that defies normal reasoning; or as a false, obsessive belief strongly held, in spite of invalidating evidence. On the other hand, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Operational Definition states that mental disorders are characterized by presenting “… harmful and dysfunctional behaviour causing distress or disability.”
After carefully observing and reflecting on the phenomenon of racism I have come to the understanding that racism is a mental pathology. The victims of this disease suffer from a strange delusion that leads them to believe in their ethnical and / or cultural superiority over that of individuals from different ethnic or cultural groups. This condition seems to be culturally transmitted from generation to generation, resulting in a variety of hidden or open obsessive compulsive, harmful and dysfunctional behaviours.
These behaviours may range from subtle outbursts to extremely disruptive, criminal behaviours, such as the one we have recently witnessed in the news, about three young Caucasian men [in Courtenay] attacking a gentleman of African descent. Let’s not whisper anymore! Let’s say it loud and clear: what have we really done and what are we going to do about racism?
Being a member of the local visual minority population, I am frequently invited to anti-racism workshops. The modus operandi of the majority of these workshops consists in providing an often patronizing environment for people who have witnessed racism to talk about their experience. Unfortunately, this well-intentioned effort to eradicate racism does not serve its purpose, simply because the only way to eradicate racism is to focus on and offer help to the perpetrators.
Why is it that nowadays most people can talk freely about sex, politics or religion, but the word racism elicits whispers and silence? Perhaps, in order to enable the perpetrators to acknowledge their condition, we should take away the shame and stigma associated to being racist. After all, racism is just a treatable mental disorder. If we keep on talking about racism as an abominable character trait, people who are affected by this mental pathology will hide and deny their condition, and we will continue regarding those who have witnessed racism as we regard those who have witnessed UFO activity.
Ultimately, if we were able to recognize that racism is a culturally transmissible, delusional mental disorder pathology, we could begin developing suitable educational treatment materials to help the real victims of racism – the people who suffer from this debilitating condition.
Beatriz is a warrior, a poet, a mother, a dream catcher, a humble observer and a spirit in search of inspiration.