We’ve Become Desensitised to Racism

I’m a white male and with that comes privilege. From a young age I always knew racism was wrong but also thought it was a thing of the past. We learnt about racism in history, we were shown the terrible treatment people were subjected to, we couldn’t believe how people were treated. I associated racism with older generations, too lazy or indoctrinated to change their views, a way of thinking that would be erased as the older generations die. But it’s 2016 and we still see racism daily; in the news, on social media, in person. Racism hasn’t left, we’ve just become desensitised. We’re so used to racism it no longer shocks us and that’s a problem. 

We only have to look at the UK and US to see just how many issues still haven’t been addressed. Brexit and the rise of UKIP highlights some of the issues we have here in the UK. Whilst I voted to remain in the EU, I understood there were logical reasons why some people were choosing to vote leave particularly in terms of business agreements and UK legislation rules. However, a lot of the Brexit campaign was based on xenophobia, using immigration as an excuse for the downfalls of our government and country. It seems almost ironic or simply ridiculous that a nation who controlled the British Empire and forced themselves upon countries around the world are now deciding they want independence.

Of course the recent US election bares perhaps an even more depressing reality check. A man ran a campaign fueled by hatred and intolerance and won the election. It baffles me that a man who is so openly sexist, racist, homophobic and xenophobic to name but a few, was voted into power. The majority of voters who voted for Donald Trump were college educated white women and I cannot understand how a woman was comfortable voting for a man who has joked about sexual assault and repeatedly made sexist, derogatory comments towards women. Regardless of Hilary Clinton’s flaws, she did not run a campaign based on hatred and intolerance and I believe her concession speech only highlighted the hopes she had for young girls and women in America.

As I write this I have just seen a story stating that a Mayor in America has said “It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified first lady in the White House. I’m tired of seeing a Ape in heels” about Michelle Obama. Michelle, a woman who has fought to improve the education for girls around the world, improved the support for veterans, service members and their family and fought to address the issue of childhood obesity to name a few of her achievements. The fact that a woman who has achieved so much and has held her position with respect and dignity can be torn down because of her skin colour baffles me.

It’s 2016 and people still have issues over something people cannot control. The pigment of someone’s skin should not scare you, it should not intimidate you, it should not make you feel anything at all. Respect people’s heritage, celebrate cultures around the world, educate yourselves on different ways of life but do not allow someone to be discriminated because of the colour of their skin.

One of the most common excuses I have heard when witnessing an old person make racist comments is that it’s just their generation, they don’t know better. This very ideology is ridiculous, with age comes experience and they have witnessed the unnecessary horrors racism and discrimination has caused over time. If anything, older generations should be more switched on than any of us and realise racism only produces negativity.

As I write this, I’m reflecting on my own behaviour and prejudgments and I’m in no way perfect. I make assumptions based on stereotypes, I’m ignorant to a lot of modern racism issues that people face everyday. I’m worried I will come across as preachy but having the conversation is important. I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot recently and have been discussing it with my friends but it was Hannah Hart’s video response to the recent US election that made me decide to write this post.

Have conversations, ask questions, challenge discrimination.

Have a great day,
Ben

If you liked this post you may also like White People, Get In Formation or White Supremacy & Cultural Appropriation.

 

Can Women Be Firefighters?

A few weeks ago, the fire brigade turned up at work after our fire alarms went off. As we all stood at the fire assembly point, huddled together like cattle, one of my co-workers pointed out that one of the firefighters was a woman. It seemed odd to me that she had pointed out the firefighter’s gender so I asked her why it mattered. She told me that she didn’t think it was good that there was a female firefighter because she wouldn’t be able to carry someone, such as myself, to safety. I disagreed instantly firstly on the basis that we didn’t know the woman’s strength or capabilities but secondly because a male probably wouldn’t be able to lift me either.

An argument frequently used to oppose feminism or gender equality is men and women are different genetically so therefore certain tasks, jobs and responsibilities are more suited to a certain sex. On the surface this statement is true; men and women are different and our bodies differ in a variety of ways. However, does this mean certain jobs should be off limits to particular sexes?

Take for example, the job of a mid-wife which is typically associated with women. What would make a woman more qualified for this position than a male? Some may argue that a woman may have had children before so could empathise more with the mother throughout the process. However, there is no reason why a woman would be able to deliver a baby any better than a man. The job is genderless, as both men and women can become qualified in midwifery should they choose to. and both genders are capable of empathy.

Another interesting example to consider is the job of a chef. Why is it a male-dominated industry? We have all heard the tiring joke that women “belong in the kitchen” so why are there far more male chefs than female, if society suggests women should naturally be more suited to cooking? Whilst on an individual scale there may be a whole host of reasons as to why a woman may chose not to pursue her passion of cooking could the generalisation be made that women are discouraged to become chefs because they wouldn’t be able to handle the pressure of a fast paced kitchen? Personally, I don’t agree with this notion as I don’t buy into the stereotype that women cannot handle pressure without becoming emotional. I’m sure many male chefs have become emotional during or after stressful shifts and perhaps even more would if society didn’t teach men that expressing emotion is a sign of weakness or damaging to your masculinity.

I guess my main point is, men and women are capable of doing the majority of jobs to the same ability. Fundamentally the issue lies with what careers society encourages men and women to pursue. Returning to the female firefighter analogy, what if my colleague had made her comment in front of a young man or woman considering a career in the emergency services? Could a comment, with no intentional malice or agenda, play its part alongside other information and opinions to discourage an individual from pursuing the career they want purely because of their gender?

It’s an interesting one to consider. Let me know your thoughts!

Why #LikeAGirl Remains A Brilliant Campaign And Message

Over a year and a half has passed since Always released their #LikeAGirl campaign and it remains one of my favourite marketing campaigns. The advert brilliantly demonstrates how it has become normal for society to associate feminine qualities with weakness by showing different generations portraying what they think it means to do an activity ‘like a girl’.

The campaign aligns itself perfectly with their target market of women, managing to tackle an important social issue whilst subtly promoting their brand. By positioning themselves as compassionate and supportive for girls and women, the viewer is prompted to place trust in the brand and the products they have on offer.

It is interesting to see the young boy’s reaction to the interviewer when asked if he thinks he insulted his sister; ‘No, I mean, yeah… insulted girls, but not my sister’. This adds another thinking point to the campaign making the viewer consider who it is they could be damaging or limiting when making a derogatory slur towards women. A professional in work may make a rude comment towards their female colleagues and think nothing of it however would they react differently if they witnessed their mother, sister, wife or friend belittled or patronised because of their gender? The campaign, whilst promoting Always, manages to guide the viewer to think about the issue in a bigger context.

Always have also taken a step in promoting feminism as an approachable movement. The opening sequence sparks interest in the viewer to see what direction the advert will go in and shows them how a comment that at first may appear harmless, or even normal, can actually be damaging to a woman’s confidence and development.

It is rare that you see a company tackle social issues without an overbearing feeling that they are only doing it for the good publicity it may bring. Always seem to have found the perfect balance through their clever positioning and gentle, relatable approach.