TED Conversations

Matthew Li


This conversation is closed.

Can racism truly be eliminated?

In Australia we live in one of the most multicultural nations, however every once in a while there are those people who publicly and abusively insult people from other races. I know there will always be those ignorant individuals or people who are scarred from people of other races (e.g wars, personal events or negative child rearing ), but can we truly eliminate racism in our world?

Possibly include jokes or stereotyping into this debate, are light jokes about other races or stereotyping racist?

Also take into consideration the media in movies or simply news. Are they doing a good enough job to tackle racism?


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Jul 23 2013: I grew up in Hawaii. Since no race had a majority, everyone was in a minority. At first the races worked together and key was can you do the job? Race was secondary. The races did not socialize except during large "required" social events, wedding, funerals, birthday parties, etc. and business type socialization. Being invited into the home of another race was done very rarely. I guess people respected the others space and did not violate it. If someone did, they were ostracized.

    This changed as I grew older. For example, churches that were only for Chinese now had Japanese, Korean, White, etc. Similarly white churches now had different races. The rate of inter-racial marriage became over 40%.

    Is there still racial prejudice - yes but I guess I would say muted.
    • thumb
      Jul 23 2013: What if the trend you're experiencing in Hawaii continued? Can we hold out hope that racism might at least become some less virulent strain of prejudice? For instance, interracial marriages breed interracial children who enter into de facto interracial marriages, because at least the bride or the groom is from interracial periods, and so on...is it possible, even if it takes many years, that in an increasingly globalized society, with an increasing number of people living and working in a country that they are not native to (220 million), and with the gene pool starting to resemble more of genetic jacuzzi, won't a homogenous quality arise within the population. We are, after all, but one single species regardless of our race.
      • Jul 23 2013: We can only watch and learn. One thing that we need to be careful is the loss of culture and language - a linguist at Yale is concerned with the loss of human languages with the globalization. Think we need to try to keep the good or are we willing to lose the good to eliminate the bad?
        • thumb
          Jul 23 2013: Of the 7,000 languages spoken today, half are expected to be gone by the end of the century.


          I can understand preserving the culture and language. But at the same time, it's making room for new cultures, at least, if not languages.

          What concerns me is the homogenous nature of cultures seem to be taking, like a monoculture where all you see is one plant to the horizon in every direction. I don't want to be able to go anywhere in the world and get McDonald's and Starbucks.

          And what I recognize as inevitable, not to be redundant, is that all cultures will go. You ask me if we need to try and keep the good or are we willing to lose the good to eliminate the bad? Even if we keep the good, it won't be the same good, it's not a static thing. And the elimination of the bad doesn't necessitate the introduction of the bad in another form.

          Back in the T'ang Dynasty, Zengetsu, a Chinese Zen master, gave some advice to his pupils, one piece of which was: "Some things, though right, were considered wrong for generations. Since the value of righteousness may be recognized after centuries, there is no need to crave an immediate appreciation." Now, one might hold instead to some Platonic idea of Good as a perfect Form, but I personally would choose a path of acceptance, or as Zengetsu would have put, living in the world but not forming attachments "to the dust of the world." Culture is another kind of dust. Everyone that ever lived felt just as passionate about the immediate and overwhelming experience of being alive as we do. Yet where is there passion, their experience, their culture now? What is it to us? What good did it do them to cling what they liked and reject what they didn't?

          From a different translation of Ecclesiastes than I used earlier: "The people of long ago are not remembered, nor will there by an remembrance of people yet to come by those who come after them."
      • Jul 23 2013: Have to think about this. 1/2 of me agrees that we must let go but then apply that logic to endangered species - nature has been killing off species since the dawn of this planet - should we be saving endangered species? again 1/2 of me says yes.
        • thumb
          Jul 24 2013: Of course, we should be saving endangered species. Forget that for a moment.

          Imagine holding a pencil in the following two ways. In the first, you hold your pencil tightly by making a fist. That is attachment; it is like grasping, clinging, It takes effort and will resist any other force that acts upon the pencil. The hand, like the mind, is closed. In the second way you open your hand, palm up to the feeling with the fingers straight and the pencil gently rests there. There is no attachment, but there is acceptance. The pencil is there, but gone is the sense of possession, of having to maintain our hold on the material world. The mind is open.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.