• By Alex J. Rhowuniong

Combating prejudices and intolerance

Discrimination against Chuukese living on Guam may have been alleviated to some degree. But I was reminded a few weeks ago that racism is still alive in our small island community today. This was pointed out by Cali Que, a young African-American, whose candid vlog on Facebook went viral in the local community.

In recent weeks, many on Guam came out to show support for the national #BlackLivesMatter movement, recharged by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd died in broad daylight under the knees of a police officer and the tragic scene was caught on video. According to BBC news online, Floyd's death "has caused outrage and sparked a wave of protests against racial discrimination and police treatment of African-Americans in cities across the U.S. and the world."

Que, whose real name, is Mac Quinn, is an African-American originally from Los Angeles and is now living on Guam. "I appreciate everyone on Guam that supports #BlackLivesMatter," Quinn said in his vlog on his FB page. "But y'all should focus on what's happening on this island... and that's racism toward the Chuukese people! They get treated (on Guam) a lot like black people get treated in the states."

When Guam supporters marched against racism and police brutality a few weeks ago in support of #BlackLivesMatter, Quinn's vlog shortly after went viral. "Put that energy toward your Chuukese brothers and sisters that's here on this island," Quinn said. "Yes, racism still happens on Guam! (Bleep) what's going on in the states and everywhere else. That ain't none-o-y'alls business. Focus on here!"

When interviewed later by KUAM, Quinn clarified that he was not trying to say that supporting the campaign was wrong or pointless. But before worrying about what's going on in the states thousands of miles away, Quinn said, Guam protesters should put more of their focus and energy toward our own community, where real racism issues stare at us.

"That's me," Quinn said, "showing that I care by telling the truth, and sometimes the truth is going to hurt. And it's going to hit hard. But people need to hear that so they can get it together."

Racism is not isolated in one place, or exclusive to certain races. It's everywhere. I am not really sure though that anyone can completely put a stop to this monster. But perhaps, with a collective effort, we can create an atmosphere that fosters tolerance and harmony in our community.

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Experts cite three ways to do this:

• First, we need to recognize and acknowledge that racism exists in our community. If we don't, we won't be willing to deal with it. And it's not going to go away by itself.

• Second, we need to admit that racism poses a problem for our existence as a community. If we ignore this fact, it will fester and with time, become a bigger problem for us.

• Finally, as a community, we must attack this problem together at its roots with basic and simple education!

Racism is defined as "prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior."

Racism is rooted in stereotypes and misinformation about different races. At its core, this is perpetuated by pure ignorance, which breeds indifference and hatred toward others.

So, if ignorance is at the root of the problem, then getting educated or getting to know “others” may help mitigate any racial tension, little by little. One of the places you see education played out beautifully is in the various sports on our island. We should continue to build on efforts others have started within the circles of sports. Well, whatever the case though, making a dent in racism will take all of us to continue as individuals or individual organizations in our community to mutually educate one another.

Protests may never be enough to bring about lasting change. But positive reinforcement at the community level can take the edge off intolerance and racist thinking. In time, there may be relative peace, with less hatred and, hopefully, more love.

Alex J. Rhowuniong is a longtime journalist on Guam. He writes for various publications. Send feedback to justwrite.ar@gmail.com. Or, visit his website: www.rhowuniong.com.

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