During World War II immigrants from Italy, Germany, and Japan were met with skepticism because the United Sates was at war with their home country. However, only the Japanese were moved into internment camps. This is one of those sad chapters in American history where we, as a nation, did not live up to our ideals. Why only the Japanese and not the Italians or Germans? There are probably multiple reasons but one glaring one is that they were other.
- The Italian and German immigrants looked a lot more like the majority of people that had been living in America for generations.
- The Japanese communities were more isolated than were the Italian and German communities.
- The Japanese’s foods, culture, languages were more different than the Italians and Germans.
None of these were good reasons to single them out but all of these points created more extreme feelings of other towards the Japanese immigrants. What was done to them was very wrong.
Humans seem too, at times, act harshly towards people that are different than themselves. We generally use the term racism to describe this. I want to add the concept of other to this conversation to help articulate it.
When we don’t relate to another person we tend to ascribe the characteristics from the stories we have heard. This widens the gap and mistrust between people. Creating more other.
Therefore, we get tragedies like what happened to George Floyd. But we also get the daily mistreatment of people that are other. This must stop! It is a tragedy that has plagued this world for way too long.
Racism is a deep and multifaceted problem with multiple things we must do to stop it. However, I want to propose one thing that all of us can do to help combat racism. Get rid of other.
Do this by creating diverse friendships and work groups. Diversity on all aspects that describe a person. Intentionally get to know people who are different than you. Seek to understand them as people and how their experiences in life are different than yours. Be their friend.
It is difficult to hate a group when your friends belong to that group.