Many Shades of Ignorance

WARNING! : This blog contains racial terms written in their entirety. They are not used to be offensive but to help describe a situation. If you feel offended by seeing such words then please read no further.

 

Racism comes in many colours. Take you pick. If you can’t pick a colour then choose a language, a culture, anything a little bit different. We like feeling cosy and superior in our little groups. Pointing at others who don’t fit in. We don’t want freedom for everyone. We want everyone to serve and obey our private little club and anything that steps outside of it. Well. We don’t care. Though we will condemn it.

Let me tell you about my first introduction to racism. When I wasn’t much more than a baby my best friend at nursery was called Jason. He lived just across the street from me and I recall once going across to see him and his father answering the door. He was a very stern chap who waited for me to talk before saying a word. I asked him if Jason could come out to play and he informed me that he wasn’t allowed out. Being a persistent little bugger and assuming that Jason had gotten up to some mischief I asked why. The father reacted by calling his son to the door. He told the two of us that we could go out and play but if the other boys started calling him things then he was to go straight back home. I said to the father that they call me things to but I’ll go tell the other boys not to say anything. So off I went to see the big boys and asked them to be nice to my friend. They said they would be and to bring my friend over. This I did and within seconds was walking back towards Jason’s house with him with the echoes of Nigger, Gollywog and Blackey ringing behind us. I only ever saw Jason at nursery after that and only for a short time as his family moved away from the area.

A good few years later it was my turn to move and so I ended up in France. Lacking the local tan I was called Whitey and asked questions such as: ‘Why don’t you go back to your own country?’.  My country being Scotland I was also asked where my skirt was and was given a lecture by a teacher that when she tasted Haggis she thought it was real excrement. This amused the class no end.

After such entertaining years at school I was all set to go back to Scotland to study. To help finance this I worked the holidays in a factory. One of my co workers was from the Ivory Coast and did the shift just before me. This one shift the owner of the factory appeared. He said hello to my colleague then walked right past him to shake hands with me. He spoke with me briefly but being the first time I had seen the big boss all I could do was try and work out who he was. My colleague of course told me who he was once he had left and hadn’t paid much attention to the fact that he had shook my hand and not his. This is the more subtle approach to racism. Me being white made me the lesser of two foreigners. A man who could nearly be French. A man with whom you can shake hands.

This brings me to more global racism. Let’s take the US. A nation with a short history that it has managed to pack with horrific racist acts. Now surely with Obama sitting in the White House we can say that this has changed. Well. No. The one thing that bugged me when Obama came to power was that it was posted everywhere that for the first time a black man became president of the US. Now why did this bug me? Well he isn’t black. One of his parents being white and the other being black makes him mixed. This to my mind is a far better show of racial tolerance and should be widely publicised. Promoting him as this first black president is as good as saying he sure as hell isn’t white! Why not just call him: The first US president to look black. This not only reflects poorly on the US but on the entire planet because everyone is going along with it.

The world has most definitely not removed itself from being openly racist but it is finding different ways of maintaining racial divide. This is why I have never been a partisan of political correctness. One because it goes against freedom of speech and two because it doesn’t work. I have more than too often heard people say: “You know… those others”  instead of some derogatory term. Banning the words does not stop the sentiment and in some cases will even exacerbate the problem. What has to be dealt with is the pack animal behaviour we so often display.  That is the root of our intolerance towards anything different. If you don’t have a different colour of skin or a different accent then you are too fat, too skinny, your ears look funny and the list goes on. Ironically the will to belong pushes us apart as we form our little clubs, with it’s little rules and build our selective process of who’s in and who’s out.  A process that makes us try to ignore anything out with our immediate circle.

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