There’s no denying that despite how far our beautiful rainbow nation has come over the last few years, racism is still a big problem within South Africa – and life on campus is usually no exception. The great news is that, regardless of our own race, we all have the power to make a difference and do our bit to ensure a healthier, happier, fairer society. Here’s how YOU can spark the change to deal with racism on campus.
Have you noticed that there is a lack of policy in place on campus that helps to prevent racism from becoming a problem, especially in specific instances? Do you know of a couple of students who feel equally as strong as you do about this?
Band together and take action to ensure that effective changes are made and that the issue is tackled with the urgency and respect that it deserves. Go through the appropriate channels, such as the student representative council, and make sure that you are clear from the start, both verbally and in writing, how the policy / rule, or lack thereof, impacts on the wellbeing of certain students.
Also be sure to put forward all of your suggestions for change. While reformation can take time, and patience is important, it is just as important to keep following up on the matter should you not receive regular communication and updates in terms of progress.
If You See Something, Say Something
It is easy to look the other way when something racist happens and doesn’t affect you directly – don’t. The only way in which to incite change is to speak up when you notice something that you consider inappropriate or out of line – even if it is not your race that is being targeted!
Do your best to integrate and engage with people of all races while on campus.. and beyond. Make a point of joining diverse groups when group work is required during lectures. Introduce yourself to the people that you sit next to in class. Greet everyone you see with a friendly smile and take the time to get to know people with whom you might not have always had the chance to associate. After all, there is nothing more interesting or enlightening than learning all about another culture!
Confront Your Own Racist Thoughts and Tendencies
You can be the furthest thing from a racist yet still possess a few racist tendencies – and without even realising it, more often than not! This comes from living in a society where racism penetrates all aspects of life and surrounds us constantly.
The fact of the matter is that we all make assumptions about each other, even if it is subconsciously. Take the time to have hard conversations about this with yourself and work on being more objective when it comes to meeting new people. Rest assured that you’ll come away from this special inner voyage being a much better person!
The key to sparking change on campus lies in dedicating just as much time to changing your own subconscious prejudices and misconceptions as you do to helping to change the opinions of those around you! Combatting racism is indeed a journey that we need to take together… but it is also one that needs to start from within.