In life, people are going to do things that hurt or offend you. Whether their actions are intentional or not, as recipients we are often left with a choice. Are we going to be offended by their actions or no? Personally, I often opt for the latter. I proactively make the decision to give people the benefit of the doubt, and try to understand their perspective.
Recently, I engaged in a discussion on Facebook regarding racism, and whether the actions of a group of university students was racist.
Perhaps I should take a step back and explain the situation. A group of university students attended an “around the world” themed party, whereby they dressed as people from different cultures, mainly from the Asian subcontinent. As expected at a university party, the students indulged in alcohol, and their actions may/may not have been respectful to the countries that they were representing.
Personally, I don’t believe their actions were racist. I think their actions were in poor taste. But I also believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they weren’t educated on the customs of the countries they were representing, but I don’t think they tried to go out of their way to offend people.
They are students. I vividly remember the growing pains of being one. Mentally, I grew into a very different person in university. It was where I started finding my way on this crazy place we call earth. And I don’t support using harsh words for a group of students who made an error in judgement.
Being called a racist isn’t a something one would forget. Yes they offended people, but to call them a name that puts them on the same platform as members of the KKK, in my opinion is not acceptable.
I don’t know the students personally, but I don’t think they actively went out to cause harm. Perhaps as grown adults, we can use this as a teaching opportunity. What are the university leaders doing to teach culture diversity, and educate their students? What are we doing as a society to be inclusive and learn about our neighbors backgrounds?
We don’t grow as a society by isolating a group of people by calling them names. We grow by helping them understand why their actions were offensive to a group of people.