BalanceAprilIssue2017 - 21


Nihal: off the record
Being a racist was not as easy as Nihal Arthanayake expected it
to be - but he learned some valuable lessons before giving up
photography by SWA NI


ecently, I have been toying with the
idea of trying out racism for a day. Not
being on the receiving end of it, but
embracing the 'Become a racist for
a day' challenge.
Now, in terms of morality, I am not claiming this
challenge to be up there with running a marathon
for charity. It's more of a personal challenge.

Shout back

Imagine if, after waking up, I switch on the TV only
to be confronted by a presenter whose colour I dislike.
I change channels hoping to find someone more akin
to my idea of racial purity - but it just gets worse. The
next symbol of all that is wrong in the world is mixed
race. They have betrayed two races at once - and
that, in my angry little mind, is unforgivable.
It's not even 8am and all this hatred is eating me
up. I find solace by logging on to the internet and
seeking out other little hate imps, as I get turned
on by page after page of scornography.

This is an epic fail on my part. My 'Become a racist
for a day' challenge is already coming unstuck. To be
a successful racist I am going to have to reduce every
social interaction to a conflict with 'the other'. This
will require focus and effort.
As I hop on the bus there are two men being loud
and obnoxious. I see that they are from my lot - they
have a similar skin tone to mine. Now I'm really
confused. The others are bad people; my lot are good.
I rationalise their sociopathy as being caused by their
lack of education - others received all the benefits of
a good education at the expense of my lot.

On my way to work, I call into the
newsagents to grab something to
read. I find a paper that I believe
will embolden the dormant
ashes of prejudice that dwell
deep within me to become
full-blown flames of hatred;
one that tickles the racism in
me, without being explicitly
bigoted... but I know what
those words really mean.
The only problem is that
the fella who sold me the
paper isn't one of us, but
happens to be a nice bloke.
This is difficult because now I
am going to have to work extra
hard at hating him - and his
lovely wife. She greets me with
her broad smile and says 'Good
morning' in her funny foreign
accent and for a few seconds
I see her as a human being.

I thought that being a racist for a
day would be straightforward.
I thought it would be simple
to dismiss a whole group as
being inferior and worthy
of my umbrage. But I have
discovered that it is in fact
hard, in terms of expended
energy, to be bigoted.

We open-minded, empathetic
individuals are the lazy ones.
It takes much less effort
to skip through life merrily,
seeing the best in people, than
experience a race-elicited angergasm every time you leave the house.
So next time you meet a racist,
tell them that for a healthier and
more relaxing life, they should
just stop being such a tool. B

April 2017 BALANCE



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