By Navya Sahay, Grade 12
If recent events like the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent popularity of the Black Lives Matter movement have proven anything, it is that racism still persists malignantly in the fabric of our society and threatens the creation of safe environments. Given the sustained nature of racism's existence, many psychologists have studied human tendencies to discriminate and divide.
Senior lecturer on psychology, Steve Taylor, has commented on the correlation between psychological ill health and racism; those suffering from a lack of self-esteem or some other insecurity often indulge in racist acts. Social Psychologist Karime Betacche takes a broader perspective as he suggests that xenophobia exists because of humans' tendency to fear strangers. The basis for this fear has expanded greatly over time, manifesting itself in the implicit and parasitic racism we face today. He cites the minimal group paradigm to explain how humans create categories, that however atrocious, lead to "ingroup favoritism and outgroup derogation". However, he's quick to caution his readers by explaining how race is a social construct, an invented category that is unscientific and can be eradicated with the awareness that it was created for selfish reasons by our ancestors.
Looking at racism through a psychological lens has revealed insights into how people can combat it and will hopefully pave the way for safe environments that are untainted by the retrogressive beliefs of the past.