What Color Do You Bleed?
Roh Kyu-lee Editor-in-Chief, Choi Yoo-chan Cub-Reporter
Development of transportation and telecommunications is integrating the world, leading to globalization. Various types of people who have different appearances and cultural backgrounds meet and mingle. Even though it is a globalized era and we live alongside one another, some people still don’t embrace the differences of others. We call this ‘racism’. Racism in Korea is still an ongoing problem causing the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to urge the Korean government to enact comprehensive anti-racism legislation and recommend measures against racial hatred that spread throughout society.
• Definition of Racism
Racism means unfair treatment of people, or violence against them, because they belong to a different race from your own. Racism doesn’t only mean being antagonistic to those who have a different skin color; it also includes having a favorable impression of a particular race. National chauvinism is one such example. National chauvinism negatively evaluates one culture over another, indulging in the superiority of one's own traditions. People with this attitude ignore other’s cultural background and adhere to the saying ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do.’ It is a well-known expression for representing this attitude. For example, in Korea, many foreign workers from Southeast Asia often have a bitter look on their faces and bear a grudge towards their bosses.
‘Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.’ - Second article of Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It’s been a long time since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was declared, but we can easily find racism like this in our daily lives.
• Racial Discrimination in Korea
-Student A from Vietnam: Young students laughed and mocked my voice because my Korean pronunciation sounds different and quite strange while I was working at my part-time job. They mocked every sentence I said and judged me with their stares.
-Student B who is white: Some Koreans tend to avoid white people because we have a certain body odor.
-Student C who is black: Koreans say ‘Heuk-Hyung’, which means black brother, frequently. My friend was refused access to the bathroom (because of the color of his skin).
(Interviews with CBNU students)
As you can see in this interview, racism still exists in Korea and we are one of the countries with the lowest racial diversity.
Koreans also have had the idea of single nation state for a long time, which means people who constitute Korea are of the same race and share the same culture. As such, Korean society has a background in having difficulty interacting with foreigners so they have the idea of a single race. Some Koreans tend to regard people of other races as abnormal and do not treat them the same as their fellow country people.
• Why We Should Not Discriminate
- Needs of Diversity
Allowing diversity into our society drives us to find out all the brilliant ideas in the world. Embracing people of various cultural backgrounds can generate ideas or perspectives which others may not have or may not have been aware of before. If we only take one point of view about events in the world, we will never understand other perspectives behind these events. So when tackling an issue, it would be better to have multiple interpretations and approaches, rather than everyone contributing the same thoughts and conclusions.
Also, pursuing diversity is how we learn more about the world around us. By exploring other ideas, beliefs, and lifestyles with an open mind, we open ourselves to exercise creativity and problem solving by looking at things from another person's perspective. Thus, diversity is a source for the sustainable development of communities, people and nations.
- Labor Force
These days, people from various countries work in Korea.
As the data shows, the number of foreign workers working in Korea has increased and become a big part of the Korean labor market. On the other hand, the birthrate and workforce in Korea is declining. The economic growth potential dependent on native workers is decreasing, while the reliance on foreign workers is increasing. Under such circumstances, foreign workers are a great strength of the Korean industry. But if we discriminate against them, they won’t want to work in Korea, and Korea will lose the great power of our industry.
• Law and Administrative Systems in Various Countries
The civil rights law of the United States prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin in the public sector and employment. The Civil Rights Act not only legislates the law but also establishes agency to supervise it.
In addition, citizens are given the right to submit to trial for offensive remarks or actions on all racial discrimination.
Human rights law of Canada prohibits discrimination based on race, national origin, ethnicity, or color. It guarantees equality of opportunity and freedom from discrimination in federal jurisdiction. Also in accordance with the racial hatred law, acts that are likely to offend or threaten others, some or all of others, or certain groups, based on race, color, ethnic or racial origin are illegal.
Australia's racial discrimination law prohibits discrimination based on racial discrimination and offensive behavior based on racial hatred.
These kinds of laws will help eliminate racial discrimination.
• Our Attitude Toward Racism
First, the best way to better understand the issues associated with racism is to talk to people who have experienced racism. The more stories you hear, the broader the criteria for judging discrimination you can get and then you will be able to sense elements that make someone feel isolated.
Second, be active in uncomfortable conversations.
It might be awkward to oppose other people's opinions and in the worst case, an embarrassing situation may arise. However, if you do not actively comment, those people will not be able to fix the misunderstanding or understand the thoughts of others.
Third, be aware of the language we normally use.
Think before you speak; Words can hurt, whether you intend them to or not. It is essential to examine whether there could be racist tones in your language. Taking others’ perspective into account will be helpful.
People say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, yet people are judged just based on their skin color. The amount of melanin in the skin should not play a significant role in our lives. We are fundamentally more similar to one another than different; instead of building up walls to separate us, we should be building bridges to bring us closer together. Let's all make a world without racial discrimination.
Note to reporter:
The last paragraph is great. More like this makes the article more memorable and personal.