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,