(Photo Credit: Unsplash/Arthur Edelmans)
In our society, it is usually a known fact that people stick together. While this may be helpful to society in certain situations, it can also cause large amounts of damage within a community. This idea is called a mob mentality, when people in a group follow the actions of those around them.
A situation in which this idea of mob mentality causes severe harm is in the case of racism. Even in current society, people of color (POC) are subject to systemic divides and microaggressions. An extremely prominent issue, especially in groups, is people saying racial slurs.
People engaging in racist and disrespectful behavior is seen far too often. An anonymous contributor shares an experience that they have had with this scenario in recent times.
“I have been on a sports team throughout my entire high school career. Especially this year, I have noticed that the guys on my team have been engaging in racist behaviors. I hear them saying slurs almost every practice, with no shame. To make it even worse, the slurs they are saying do not even apply to them, and it’s not like they’re trying to reclaim the derogatory terms that they are using since most of them are not people of color. I have tried my best to call them out and tell them why it is unacceptable to be so ignorant as to contribute to racism, but they usually show no remorse. It is enraging to see them get away with this kind of thing, and I really wish that more people would muster up the courage to fight against this issue to reiterate that saying slurs, especially ones that do not apply to them, is highly offensive and inadmissible.”
Peer pressure, which in this case presents itself as the mob mentality, highly impacts the continuation of this problem. There is always an expectation to fit in with the people that one decides to be around, and an added pressure to feel wanted and accepted. This fear of rejection poses another issue as it can lead to joining in on behaviors such as making racist comments and acting in ways that are racist around other people.
No matter what the situation is, oppressing groups that are targeted in society is callous. As much as anyone wants to feel accepted, the people that are not currently integrated into society as they should, wish for the same thing.
Jorja Solak (’22) said, “Mob mentality can be really toxic, and many times people tend to follow the leader when it comes to the presence of racism. People’s unwillingness to work against racism simply shows their ignorance and lack of compassion for others.”
This prolonged presence of racism in our society is highly disappointing. Purposely targeting a certain group of people in order to feel accepted is highly upsetting. This idea of being a bystander or adding onto racist behaviors to protect oneself from being ostracized is extremely harmful and is continuing the racial divides in society even further, when there should be progression towards total acceptance.
In order to bring progression towards total racial equality, there needs to be a willingness to create space for this change. There really seems to be lack of self-awareness for the harm that complicity in the eye of racism causes.
Amari Cole (‘22) encourages people to take a stand.
She said, “It is already hard enough to stop racism but because of the mob mentality it’s even harder. If you know that someone is saying the wrong things about a culture then don’t try and chime in while knowing what you are saying can hurt and offend people. If you don’t know about a topic, you need to educate yourself on it.”
Many people are lucky enough to educate themselves about racism, rather than having to experience it. Although some members of society are not subject to it, there is a responsibility on part of everyone to take a stand in efforts to destroy racial divides in our current world. All people that do not experience racism need to be aware of how they could be contributing to the issues that racism presents, and work on connecting to their self-awareness and educating themselves, so that they can end their racist behaviors. Small efforts and changes can be very helpful when it comes to holding oneself accountable.
More awareness and little implementations of everyday life will make a huge difference in making progress on this front. The last thing our current society needs is more division. Equal human rights should not be something that is considered political or unimportant, because everyone wants to be able to live a life without the fear of being targeted for something they cannot control.
Another story from an anonymous contributor shares how they have grown personally.
They share that “[they were] raised with my grandparents and so I grew up being around people that were racist. For a while in school, there was almost an expectation to say slurs, because it had been integrated into the community. I had some people I knew pressure me to engage in these behaviors and I sadly went along with it. After leaving that school to be at the one I am at now, I gained a lot of awareness and perspective, and apologized to all of the people that had been put in harm’s way as a result of my ignorance and participation when it came to racism. It’s really disappointing that I hurt people in that way, and I am thankful that I was able to grow personally and attempt to repair the situation to the best of my ability.”
In order to work against the ignorant and non inclusive behaviors of others, people must find their voices to work against this issue. It can really be as simple telling someone “that’s really crappy to say” or even just telling someone that their comments or actions are inappropriate or harmful if or when someone says something that is insensitive.
Actions do affect others, and there needs to be more awareness about it. We must do better, and we can.