Racism is a Virus

WhatsApp texts about racism

I was thinking about the intense timing of the Black Lives Matter protests sweeping up the world hot on the heels of the Corona tsunami. Nary a breather. Then it occurred to me that actually the timing is apt because racism IS a virus.

Come to think of it, racism is not just a virus but indeed a terrible pandemic that has infected humanity since time immemorial. Sadly, I think that most of us – across geographical borders and cultures have been infected – consciously, subconsciously, or even subliminally.

What is racism anyhow?

I’m sure you, like me, would be appalled to consider yourself one. But the villainy of racism is that you can be infected without showing overt hateful symptoms.

In the fairy tales of my childhood, it was always the youngest of three siblings as the hero savior or angelic damsel, while the two older ones were either utter villains or utterly useless. Much to my chagrin as the first-born, I noticed & silently objected to this stereotypical depiction. What escaped my notice then, probably because it didn’t malign my own identity, is that fairy tale villains are depicted as dark-skinned characters more often than not.

The “Daughter of Narenj”, my absolute favorite childhood tale because my beloved grandmother recited it to me as she caressed my head in her lap as part of our love-fest ritual whenever I stayed over at her house, has a dramatic story arch when the fair-skinned heroine is betrayed by her villainous black servant. By the end of the fairy tale, the heroine has a happily ever after while the servant meets a ghastly punishment and gory end.

Biases and prejudice don’t spread solely in blatant or consciously hateful ways but can be passed on in so many subtle and seemingly innocent ways. The infection continuing to silently spread generation after generation.

The Insidious Nature of Covert Racism

I have experienced prejudice and I know it stings, but I don’t dare assume to know what it feels like to actually be subjected to systematic racism. Rage and frustration seem totally justifiable reactions. Nor do I have the answers on how we can eradicate overt or covert racism. Certainly, a paradigm shift of thought and a significant overhaul of behavior, education, rules of law, and personal and governmental introspection and action is called for – which can’t happen overnight but it is high time to take those steps. As taboo as some of this feels and as uncomfortable as it may be to confront these issues and even as helpless we feel to truly affect change, it is a very good thing that the racial discrimination conversation is now a blunt issue nearly the world over.

I avoid talking about world events and/or politics at all costs– both on my social media channels as well as on this blog. It felt weird, however, to avoid addressing the plague of Corona and how it’s torn the fabric of society. Similarly, while I will return next week with a recipe post and fully revert to the jovial food blogger mode, I felt compelled to address the recent events and to acknowledge the plague of racism as it’s woven dangerously into the fabric of society.

The fundamentally unjust societal culture and governance that treats the value, safety, potential, well being, and quality of life of a human being as very much dependent on their skin color is a nefarious virus — one that we shouldn’t tolerate perpetuating, wherever we stand on the political spectrum.

Final Thoughts

I hope the vaccine for Corona is found soon and we are freed from the shackles and destruction of the COVID 19 horror movie scenario and I can only hope and pray that in my lifetime humanity can witness the glimmering dawn of eradicating the ugly and utterly despicable societal disease of discrimination as well.

Anyway, I’m almost scared to post this but I just felt like sharing some of my thoughts.


ps The “Black Lives Matter” slogan obviously includes the assumption that all lives matter! It is just a way of stating and demanding that black lives should matter as much as all other lives. How can anyone in good conscience disagree with that?  It is an inclusive slogan, not an exclusive one.



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Comments (2)

  • L 4 years ago Reply

    I am so glad that you wrote and shared despite it being scary! Us Iranians have to speak out especially since we can empathize and understand by looking at our own people, while recognizing our privilege in this country. Thank you!

    Azita Houshiar 4 years ago Reply

    Thank you for the positive support Lilia. I really appreciate it!

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