He says

Nihal Arthanayake on being a racist — off the record

Being a racist was not as easy as Nihal Arthanayake expected it to be – but he learned some valuable lessons before giving up
Nihal Arthanayake on being a racist — off the record
April 10, 2017   |    Nihal Arthanayake

Recently, I have been toying with the idea of trying out racism for a day. Not being on the receiving end of it, but embracing the ‘Become a racist for a day’ challenge.

Now, in terms of morality, I am not claiming this challenge to be up there with running a marathon for charity. It’s more of a personal challenge.

Imagine if, after waking up, I switch on the TV only to be confronted by a presenter whose colour I dislike.

I change channels hoping to find someone more akin to my idea of racial purity – but it just gets worse. The next symbol of all that is wrong in the world is mixed race. They have betrayed two races at once – and that, in my angry little mind, is unforgivable.

It’s not even 8am and all this hatred is eating me up. I find solace by logging on to the internet and seeking out other little hate imps, as I get turned on by page after page of scornography.


On my way to work, I call into the newsagents to grab something to read. I find a paper that I believe will embolden the dormant ashes of prejudice that dwell deep within me to become full-blown flames of hatred; one that tickles the racism in me, without being explicitly bigoted… but I know what those words really mean.

The only problem is that the fella who sold me the paper isn’t one of us, but happens to be a nice bloke. This is difficult because now I am going to have to work extra hard at hating him – and his lovely wife. She greets me with her broad smile and says ‘Good morning’ in her funny foreign accent and for a few seconds I see her as a human being.

This is an epic fail on my part. My ‘Become a racist for a day’ challenge is already coming unstuck. To be a successful racist I am going to have to reduce every social interaction to a conflict with ‘the other’. This will require focus and effort.

As I hop on the bus there are two men being loud and obnoxious. I see that they are from my lot – they have a similar skin tone to mine. Now I’m really confused. The others are bad people; my lot are good. I rationalise their sociopathy as being caused by their lack of education – others received all the benefits of a good education at the expense of my lot.

I thought that being a racist for a day would be straightforward. I thought it would be simple to dismiss a whole group as being inferior and worthy of my umbrage. But I have discovered that it is in fact hard, in terms of expended energy, to be bigoted.


We open-minded, empathetic individuals are the lazy ones. It takes much less effort to skip through life merrily, seeing the best in people, than experience a race-elicited anger-gasm every time you leave the house.

So next time you meet a racist, tell them that for a healthier and more relaxing life, they should just stop being such a tool.

Read more: Nihal talks Connor McGregor



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