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Focus: The return of racism

When Barack Obama became the president in 2008, political experts commented on the US moving into the post-racial era. However, in the past two years, statements by politicians not just in the US but across the world seem to be reminding us that not only was that an incorrect assumption, racism seems to have returned to the public discourse in a big way. Had racism never left us? And does social media make reinforce racist perspectives? Gulf News readers debate.

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Gulf News

Media

Switch off the TV and the world becomes a beautiful place

I don’t think racism ever went away but nowadays it has become worse because of the media. They play the role of adding fuel to fire, whether you look at the US or even my home country of India. People have their mind made up on which party is good and which isn’t. Then you have the paid media, which is making matters worse. I will also include social media in this as there also people log in to only share their own perspectives on the issue. Earlier, people would make an effort to get to know each other but now they only follow the views that they already have – whether it is for a particular political party or against. I also think people intentionally tune in to the TV channels that they know have political positions that are similar to their own position, so they become stronger in their own views.

I think when we switch off the television set, the world looks like it’s a beautiful place. But the moment you switch it on, it makes you think there is no place worse.

From Dr Lalit Taori

General practitioner living in Sharjah

Division

People are set on their views, not much can change them

Racism is definitely present in the world today, but I think the main differences we see now are not just based on race, they are largely based on religious sentiments as well as right-wing views. Whether you look at the US or India, right-wing views have dominated society. People do not want to discuss issues, they are adamant on what they believe and the agenda they want to implement and they are willing to implement it at any cost.

The issue of nationalism also gets raised quite a lot, but I think that is simply a convenient way to hide their own agenda or rationalise the hate. Whether in India, Myanmar or the US, you have a similar argument being made – the indigenous people are suffering while a minority is dominating the country.

Unfortunately, a lot of the hateful activities happen in rural areas, which the media simply is not able to cover because they don’t have access to areas. Even social media has picked up a different shade in the past few years. Earlier, people used it to catch up with each other and make an effort to learn about different cultures. Now, you have so many paid accounts making sure they post hateful comments wherever possible, things can get quite abusive and violent, even on social media.

Unfortunately, I don’t think it is going to improve unless people change their mindset. That, I think will only happen when people are able to realise that political parties may not be working in their best interests. Until people’s jobs or education gets affected, I think they will continue to have the same mindset.

From Mr Mohammed Neyaz Sarwar

Corporate banker living in Sharjah

I would say that it never really went away I would say it was masked by some thought leaders. They helped take the focus away from it. Because Barack Obama won the election in the US people perceived that racism had started to go away or had faded but those in the trenches know that it never went away. I would say that with the mergence of nationalism not just in the US but across the world and protectionism – protecting my nation protecting what’s mine you’ve seen the mergence of old ideologies.

The middle east and the US are completely different but unfortunately I have seen a lot in the US. First of all yes with the growing trend for nationalism I have started to see more increase or influx of a primitive mindset. Divisive rhetoric.

So being that I live abroad the media that I turn to watch is fairly from one perspective.so I wasn’t really privy to the media or the content of that others wre watching in the US. I mean social media as well. Because of artificial intelligence was showing me what other people like me think and talk about so I was seeing just one side of the issue. So when president Trump won I wanted to undersgtand more about what were some of the rationale that people felt he was the best candidate because all the information I was seeing was one sided prior to the election.

I psoted a facebook message trying to better understand people’s perspective. The one thing about living in the UAE you have 200 different nationalities – what that teaches you about is true diversity which means you have diverse perspectives that has allowed me to become more open and respectful to other people’s perspectives. I got varying perspectives from a social and religious backgrounds.

I am optimistic about the future and I look forward to all the nations coming together starting with the US working towards

I am imopressed at how the sports organisations were at one point divided and now seemingly united on the issue not just players coaches owners entire otganisations because of this type of movement to support each other that gives me hope that the world is reversing this course and going into a more united we stand approach.

So I wanted to understand the other perspectives that led to the winning of the current US president. When you look at the statistics he maintained a minimum of 4 million lead on social media his engagement was through the rood on social media so in the world that we live in it is all about engagement and attention. And he dominated by far the social and all media channels the amount of engagement and he still does.

From Mr Damu Winston

Artificial intelligence and block chain expert living in Dubai

I’m not sure if in this reguion quite frankly I always find that people have been a little bit racist, more than 200 nationalities.

Back in England it was extremely unacceptable to say any kind of remarks really and no oen actually did apart from the small percentage of people. We hae a massive mixed culture especially in London. But I have noticed when I do go home, that has brought about a lot of talk I think not so much racism quite a lot of narrow minded peoplea re saying theya re a little bit moth outspoken when it comes to religion rather than racism.

Germany is quite a good example = there is a massive divide in Germany 50 per cent of the people are very welcoming they understand the migration has happened is due to the Syrian crisis and they were happy to take the Syrian refugees because it was always going to be temporary that they were to return when things settled. But because they’ve got an open plicy a lot of other nationalities have gone there germans have become divided.

A lady from berlin was very anti migration and we’ll pack them back to Libya and back to Africa. It didn’t start of as being racism but what is happening now thinking of reasons and coming up with excuses that our country is no longer what it used to be –

I think it is about job security about school and ivelyhood that is one of the main reasons people vote in Brexit. Because they can’t get national health fast enough the waiting time for any surgeries. Their kids can’t get into schools anymore they’re not happy about it they aren’t particularly racist our country is full and we don’t have the recources.

It is very rare for me in my newsfeed any racist comment, yesterday I saw someone posted about the vegas shooting and said it was Isis. They were just being silly weren’t they but I didn’t comment on it and make it an issue that’s the only one I’ve seen in quite.

Social media can help people to air their views, if I do I will just unfriend them.

From Ms Karen Brady

Global recruiter living in Dubai

— Compiled by Huda Tabrez/Community Web Editor

Gulf News asked: Has it become acceptable to voice racist opinions in public?

Yes 39%

No 61%

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