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The “Why” Behind Today’s Racism

By Michele Hanson, CEO-ExecuInsight LLC & Michael Smith, PhD-UNT-Health Science Center

In the midst of all of the chaos we are experiencing right now, you may be asking yourself, “why?” Why, is racism rearing its ugly head, again? Or, has it always been here and we didn’t notice it? We’d like to offer you some ideas on the “why” so that we are positioned well to address the change that needs to happen going forward.

Racism stems from many years of unconscious bias reflecting what our brains have learned as we grew up, and before. The Brain Stem & Amygdala (more primitive regions of the brain) capture all kinds of information that assist us in flight or fight situations. We have another portion of our brain, the Frontal Lobe (Cerebral Cortex), where most of our thought processes occur and we derive logic. This is where we can mount a response based on reason, and override the automatic reaction evoked from the Amygdala. These reasoned responses are learned and must be reinforced to help us to stay rational.

What has happened recently is that fear has become a factor in our lives, every day. Our current leadership is inciting fear and violence to divide us. Improper social media and purposefully inaccurate news information is driving a constant fight or flight type of reaction. The more primitive portions of the brain are being activated right now, and logic often does not prevail. People who have racist thoughts and behaviors are experiencing heightened Amygdala Hijacking. This is why education is paramount. We need to train young and old brains to be logical and less reactive. We need leaders who speak to unity and humanity within society and strive to treat all with dignity and respect: Ultimately, it is to understand that everyone’s life is important and that we all matter, regardless of race, color, religion, sexual choices, etc.

It’s time to be strong, not let your emotional Amygdala take over, and to be rational. We are all human beings and we need to care for each other.

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