It’s easy to be racist when sitting pusillanimously behind a computer screen where the most baleful beliefs can be expressed and promoted potentially incognito. I find that many bigots confidently and imprudently express utter bovarism, especially of their race, when in private.
However, what would such individuals do if approached by a minority who maintains their equanimity, and respectfully question their position of hate?
Mo Asumang—daughter of a black Ghanaian father and a white German mother, did just that while making a “documentary, The Aryans, in which she confronts racists, both in Germany and among the Ku Klux Klan in America.”
Asumang believes that white supremacists are rapt in an exaggerated and imaginary image of minorities. She insists that if they were to have a civil, face-to-face encounter with a minority—who only wants to grok their reasoning behind hate, she can show that they’ve been acting with scienter. Asumang goes on to suggest that white supremacists “don’t talk to Jews. They don’t talk to black people. They don’t know their ‘enemy.’ So when they talk to me, they talk to reality.”
In the footage, she encountered both neo-Nazis and KKK members. Although both groups are different variations of white supremacy, both possess similar beliefs in that they detest all non-white races, desire to expel them from “their” country, and in some cases to the extent of murder or physical assault.
Asumang courageously attended a demonstration with neo-Nazis, asking them “what are you demonstrating about?” Most of them ignored her, while others advised her to leave. One individual couldn’t even look her in the eyes when he demanded that she “go back to Africa.” Asumang asked kindly, “why should I go to Africa? I was born here.”
In an interview with a KKK member—whose identity was shielded behind a white robe and pointed hat, she asked him, “What’s your vision as a Klansman?” He responded, “I’m not a racist … Nobody’s a racist that is in the Klan.”
Clearly, Asumang was appalled at his suggestion of not being racist as a Klansman and reminded him that he was “wearing history … hundreds of years of threat and terror.” Completely missing her point, he replied, “This is more for ceremonial purposes.”
Furthermore, during an interview with an older white racist, Asumang concluded that when talking one on one with him in a calm and gentle demeanor, it “confused” him. She basically implied that he expected her to be anything but kind, and definitely not smile throughout the interview. As a matter of fact, she stated that she noticed many racists “wanting to smile” back at her, but they “tried to hold down the smile and that’s something very interesting.”
At the end of the interview with the older racist, he was so pleased by her serene and sympathetic approach that he gave her a hug, and called it “Interracial.” He jokingly admitted that he “hope no one sees a picture of that.”
Overall, if Asumang’s theory is correct, we can counter or even eradicate racism with positive interactions with racists, kindness, and understanding.
Do you agree with her philosophy?
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