I am trying really hard not to argue with people on social media, but sometimes I have to speak up, especially when someone is openly behaving in a racist and discriminatory way. In light of that, I thought I would share why such toxic thinking bothers me, how to spot it, and what is a better way of interacting.The Patterns of Toxic Thinking
Having dealt with many such people, I have noticed a pattern:
- They think they are superior to the other group.
- They make sweeping generalizations about another group of people, and usually believe them to be true.
- They make negative assumptions about individuals based on the color of their skin, group, culture, manner of speaking, immigrant status, sexual orientation, or other factors without getting to know the person. (i.e. They treat people as a stereotype instead of a individual human being.)
- They judge what words mean based on the color of a person's skin or their group, instead of what was said.
- They take what someone has said and twist it to fit their racist/racialist views of that person. They filter everything that is said through their generalizations & assumptions, which means that they don't accurately interpret what is being said to them.
- They often have a "noble cause" but somehow think that only their group embodies that cause. Everyone else is an enemy to the cause, even if that is not true. They often attack people from other groups because they consider them to be evil or bad.
- And frequently, they have justified their views to the point where they can't see how toxic their own views are.
This is different than accidentally saying something inappropriate. That is outright racist/racialist thinking.
A good clue is that if you can substitute a different skin color or a different culture or a different gender, and it suddenly becomes racist or offensive; then it might be a good idea to see if any of the above criteria apply. This also works if you substitute the word transgender or someone's sexual orientation as well. This type of toxic thinking is not limited to race.
Another clue is that if someone from their group said it, it is wonderful, but if someone from an enemy group said the same exact thing, it is horrible. It's not about the words being said. It is about whether the person who said it is from the approved group or race.A Better Way to Interact
A better way of interacting with people is to leave your assumptions to the side and find out about that individual. You might find that they are proud of their culture or group and act consistent with that. You might also find out that they are an independent thinker and have rejected certain aspects of their culture or group. They might be an outcast who doesn't actually fit into any group, and they are completely unique. You won't know unless you get to know them. Making assumptions and generalization, especially negative ones, doesn't make things better.
I am not saying to ignore someone's culture. If a person says or shows that their culture is important to them, then respect that. But don't assume they are some stereotype based on some external factors like the color of their skin. You can't assume culture by color of skin.
For example, blacks from the UK, blacks from the Caribbean, blacks from the United States, Hispanic blacks, rich blacks, middle class blacks, poor blacks, etc. all have very different cultures and personal preferences. They aren't all the same. Same applies to whites, Hispanics, Asians, Arabs, etc. They aren't all the same. They are not your stereotype of them.
Find out who they are as an individual. People are actually quite diverse. And they are not their skin color or other external factor that can't control.Signing Off
I can forgive someone who makes an ignorant remark. They can be educated, and often change their views once they see things from a different perspective. But people who think they are superior are usually entrenched in their positions and views. Sometimes pointing it out helps, sometimes it just pisses them off. But if I piss off a racist, I am okay with that. I'd rather show them that there is a different less toxic way of looking at the world. And if I can show them that their toxic views are actually inconsistent with their noble cause, that gives me some leverage, and sometimes I can at least put a fracture in their toxic thinking.
Anyway, I probably should end this #rant
but this type of toxic thinking really bothers me. It is harmful, discriminatory, and causes conflict among people who might even agree on things is they got past the stereotypes and got to know one another. People have more in common that people think. We're all human beings and we're all just trying to build a decent life for ourselves and the people we care about.
That's it for now. Signing off.