We’ve all heard about racism. We’ve all seen what it means and some of us even experienced it, unfortunately. However, have you heard about its more docile, yet manipulative cousin, soft racism? There are a lot of ways of perceiving or (in worst case scenario) expressing this hateful feeling. Allow me to explain to you what it is, what it does and why, although it’s “soft”, is extremely harmful.
It’s masked in empty “compliments”
I will be honest here. In my area and country are a lot of Roma people. Hungarian people as well. It just happens that they live in this country, since culturally and racially, you can’t really put clear borders. And I’ve heard countless times: “This dude is pretty chill, for a gypsy. I didn’t think a Hungarian could be so nice.” Soft racism, just like more straight forward racism, is born out of some misconceptions, controlling webs created by those who wanted, want and will want sovereignty over others. The difference is that soft racism is more passively manipulative.
To put it more simple, it compliments and attacks you in the same time. It gives the impression of a not-so-bad or even a positive comment to say. Do not fall for this obvious trap. Even if you don’t mean any harm, be careful with your words.
Most people are unaware of it
As I mentioned earlier, maybe you are not aware of its harmful and venomous nature. Some people would say that they are just words, they should not affect you. Indeed, they are words, but from simple words complicated tensions arise and those give birth to conflicts. Many do not even realize how they’ve been manipulated into thinking and saying these words. When you are trying to explain how damaging it is to say these things many people feel confused or even repulsed, thinking you are attacking them. Informing yourself about the history and culture of others is the best way to avoid being controlled by some shadows of the past.
The issue is avoided or negated most of the times
“I’m not racist, but…” Does it sound familiar? It became a meme. Some people think of this phrase as the Karen red flag. Similarly to the fake compliments, in this case, the notion of racism is denied. It’s passing the problem from the perspective of the speaker, of the “I” or “we” to “you” or “him/her/they”. “It’s not a problem with me because I’m thinking like this, it’s your problem because you are born with this race/nationality.” And most of those who use this phrase are extremely stubborn. They are either thirsting over power or have a weak individuality and prefer to think how they’ve been told to.
It’s more than just words
I’ve seen women who clutching their purses when being next to a black person. I’ve seen people oversexualizing a certain race (being either black or Asian) or certain nationalities (like Latino people). And I’ve seen kids avoiding other kids because the color of their skin. The horizon of soft racism extends past the bad mouthing. It’s softly excluding people and it does not have to be violently expressed.
And by dividing people the manipulators are free to toy with the situation. Try to emphasize a little bit. How would you feel if any of these things would be done to you? And if you are a victim of soft racism, do not turn the situation into a violent one. Be more clever, act rationally and calmly.
It’s a deeply rooted problem
The problem with racism has been around for millennia. And outside of this controlling cycle, of wanting to manipulate, there is no other reasons of this behavior. There is no excuse, but are there solutions? Since its roots are so deep impaled into people’s minds it is impossible to eradicate racism, or soft racism forever.
Yet, the problem can be improved by teaching the masses about the history of racism. But another problem arises: how can you teach those who do not want to be taught? It’s tricky since there are people who do not have the resources of learning or the desire to do so. The best thing to do, as an individual, is to listen and inform yourself and when you can, inform other as well in a calm and safe way.