Approved by a 10-0 vote of the Scroll editorial board.
“Bomb the mosques.” “Buy blacks in bulk.” “You only need to go as far as Mauritania to get slaves.”
Those are just a few of the messages that some students from U.K.’s Exeter University, wrote in a WhatsApp group chat.
Five months ago, one of the group members, Arsalan Motavali, revealed the messages from the WhatsApp group that contained racist and discriminatory content.
“It went from crude humour to racial slurs,” Motavali said to the BBC. “Awful things were said about rape. Every group was targeted. … It got too much for me, so I just left the group chat and forwarded the messages to some of my [non-university] friends. I told them about everything that had happened, and they were horrified.”
We as the Scroll editorial board value differences and abominate discrimination and racism. We consider different cultures, races and backgrounds essential for society to gain an open mind about the world.
According to the BBC, after some time, Motavali decided to show the messages to the administration at Exeter University. The school immediately started an investigation.
The BBC reported that the students who had made the racist comments in the WhatsApp group were suspended or expelled on May 1.
What is our limit? How far are we willing to go to keep a friendship? Motavali had to choose between keeping friendships and reporting discrimination and racism.
What would we do if put in that position?
Sometimes, we are afraid of the consequences for reporting on something like this. We end up being passive and allow those things to keep happening.
The world has enough passiveness. We can be better. We can choose to live a higher standard like Motavali did when he realized how offensive his friends’ comments had been, left the WhatsApp group and reported to the school administration.
Maybe we won’t find ourselves in this same situation, but what if we did? How would we act?
When someone makes a joke about or stereotypes another culture, how do you feel? Does that make you feel uncomfortable?
Twenty-four years ago, in his conference talk, “Teach Us Tolerance and Love,” President Russell M. Nelson said, “The tongue of the tolerant speaks no guile.”
Most of the mean comments or jokes come from lack of knowledge or understanding. If everyone chose to educate themselves about other people’s cultures, ethnicities and races, there would be less discrimination in the world.
As BYU-Idaho employees and students, we can choose to be better by defending people who are being discriminated against and by learning about other cultures.
We have the privilege to study at an international university. There are people from all over the world in our classes, sitting by us at devotional, eating at the table next to ours in The Crossroads and so on.
We have access to people from different backgrounds. Let’s get to know them before we stereotype their entire culture.
Let’s actively sacrifice what needs to be sacrificed, even friendships if necessary, for a bigger goal.
“The face of history is pocked by the ugly scars of intolerance,” President Nelson said in his talk.
Let’s not go back to the Civil Rights era where some African-Americans of light skin felt the need to “pass” as white to receive an opportunity in life.
Everyone has skills they can contribute to make the world a better place. No matter the race or ethnicity, everyone can be a good professional and help the world be a better place.
Sometimes, all we need is an opportunity. Race and ethnicity should not influence how people see us or how many opportunities we will have in life.
Let’s choose to do better. Let’s work for a better world. We all have the power to actively move against discrimination and racism. Let’s exercise our agency for the greater good.