Some desktop research on Racism
In surveys conducted, Lebanon ranked #2 on the top 25 most racist countries in the world. Link to the survey
This really says a lot about our problem. Fortunately, there is already an NGO that is working to fight racism in Lebanon called the Anti-Racism Movement (ARM). Their focus is mostly on the mistreatment of migrants workers by making campaigns and spreading awareness. They are currently running the Migrant Community Centers (MCCs) based in Beirut.
One of the problems I mostly hear about is not allowing anyone of color to enter private beaches. I’m glad to have found out that the Labor Ministry has actually done something about it recently in July 2016, by warning private beach owners about this issue and if a case is reported, legal measures would be taken.
Migrants and Domestic Workers
In the interview I had previously conducted, Nina shed some light on the fact that most foreigners of color come to Lebanon as migrant workers. Migrant and domestic workers do not have much support in Lebanon, so it aids in worsening the situation, and also coming up with stereotypes, i.e. an Ethiopian woman living in Lebanon would immediately be thought of as being someone’s maid. There is a predisposed idea that anyone of color is usually working cleaning houses. Furthermore, there is a big problem with the level of ethnocentrism in Lebanon.
In a paper written by Dr. Ray Jureidini, he states that there is an influx of foreign women from Africa. This is causing a racial attachment to domestic employment. in his studies, he found that
- Mostly women of Sri Lanka, the Philippines, India and African countries provide household services and similar functions in business establishments (people of color)
- (Male) nationals of Egypt, Sudan and Syria work as janitors, cleaners and porters etcetera in buildings and commercial establishments
“Approximately 200,000 migrant domestic workers currently reside in Lebanon, constituting about 5.6 percent of the total population. Mostly from Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Bangladesh, and Ethiopia, the workers live and work under the kafala system, which leaves migrant workers’ legal and visa status in the hands of their in-country sponsors and binds them to their employers.” (www.aljazeera.com)
While foreigners with lighter skin tones, such as Syrians and Palestinians, are not noticeable in a crowd, a person of a dark color is, standing out in a sea of white. They are immediately objected to racist comments.
In an article by The Economist entitled “Black is not thought beautiful”, Nadim Houry of Human Rights Watch, a New York-based lobby group, mentions “that racism persists in the region because governments have been lax about tackling it. “There are racists everywhere in the world, but in many countries it is now taboo to make comments, partly because there are laws against it,” he says. “Here, even when there is legislation, it is never applied.”
The following image shows a summary of how these migrant domestic workers are treated:
There are PLENTY of stories online about racism and abuse stories in Lebanon.
Unethical Psychological Experiments
Two experiments that today are considered unethical, show how much power an authoritative figure has on the psychological aspects of those who are dubbed favorable by the figure and those who are not (racism- one dominant group and one submissive group). These two experiments are Jane Elliot’s Blue-eyed/Brown-eyed Experiment and The Stanford Prison Experiment.
Without going into the details of the experiment, an authoritative figure separated the participants into two groups, one being dominant ( blue-eyed students and prison guards), and the other being submissive (brown-eyed students and the prisoners).
Although these experiments are very different, their concept is the same, and so are the outcomes. Within a very short time, the participants took on the roles they played. People will readily conform to the roles they are expected to play. The dominant group would mistreat the submissive group (in the blue-eye/brown eye experiment it was racism), and the submissive group would really feel that they are worthless.
Racism can be embedded into anyone when it is being spread from an authoritative figure, be it a teacher, parent, governmental leader, or anyone else who is an influence.
So what is the problem?
Well, it is clearly obvious that domestic workers are treated badly. Due to the bulk of migrants belonging in this category, it has lead to stereotyping anyone of color, regardless of their occupation, such as when the wife of an ambassador was denied entrance to the beach because she was mistaken as as maid.
I believe that, even more than the lack of governmental efforts put into the problem, the people themselves have been accustomed to such mentalities. It all starts in the home. For example, children with a black maid at home witness how the maid is treated by the parents. As they grow, they would have this preconceived idea in their minds that would eventually lead to them having racist thoughts about people of color. So definitely, young children should be educated at home, and at school about this issue, to instill it in them as they grow and become the future generation.
Logically, no one would be liked to be a called a racist. The other person would immediately take on a defensive position, even if they really were racist. How can we make people, who have such attitudes, be aware of the false stereotypes they believe?
How might we?
- How might we make people in Lebanon who have unconscious racism see the problem?
- How might we change our methods of approaching racists in order to reason with them?
- How might we change stereotypical ideas about people of color?
- How might we change the way Lebanese interact with people of color?
- How might we show Lebanese people that, all people of all colors are equal? (in terms of Lebanese ethnocentrism)
- How might we effectively teach young children about racism?
- How might we get the government to take better control of the situation through the legal system?
- How might we make the racism problem more apparent to people who don’t believe it is a problem?