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Friday, 23 September 2011

No Title

I've struggled with writing this post.  It has been perculating for a while and now I've finally written I don't think I've quite captured what I meant to say.  Perhaps I should wait until I get it right to share it with you, but I feel it's just too important to not share right now.  This post was originally titled 'Sheltered' but after writing it, I realise that that's not the right title.  I'm not sure it has a title (but if you think of any, please share in the comments).

Everyone knows racism, sexism and general prejudices are bad.  At school we are taught why we should see the person rather than what country they come from or what religion they follow.  I never really understood why we were being taught this.  I assumed that all these problems belonged to history (which, to be fair, was where most of these lessons happened – in history class) and that it wasn’t anything to do with current life.  I was naive.  I thought everyone thought like me.

You see, to me, I understand what racism is, I just can’t comprehend it.  I’ve never been able to.  I can’t physically work out why racism exists.  So you can see why I had problems with being taught it.  

Since high school I have come to terms with the idea that racism still exists – a lot – but I don’t think I will ever get my head around how someone can be racist.  Thinking about it, it’s obvious that I had a great upbringing (seriously, my only gripe has ever been that my life wasn’t as messed up as I thought it was supposed to be – from films, magazines, friends) and this whole not understanding prejudice thing is where it really shines.  You see, I don’t think I am prejudice against anyone due to who they are, where they’re from, what they believe (I do have issues with some religions but that’s still with the business side of it rather than individuals), I don’t think I know how to be.  Clearly, if everyone thought like that then there just might be hope for mankind yet.  I’m not attributing myself with amazingness here as it doesn’t really have anything to do with me – guess I’ll have to ask my parents their secret.

Are you racist?  Have you ever witnessed racism?  What effect did your upbringing have on your values?


Lynn Mitchell said...

I grew up in the deep South in the U.S. so racism has always existed in my world. My childhood (the 1970's)was spent during a transition time in the South due to the Civil Rights Movement. Because of local culture influence, I was taught to be "nice" to everyone even though every race "wasn't really equal" and that everyone should "know their place." (Implying white people were just a little smarter, a little better, a little cleaner, a little superior). It was a kinder, gentler form of racism than my parents were taught in the 1950's but it was still RACISM, pure and simple. Crazy, isn't it?

Fortunately, by the time I was 7 years old, I understood it was wrong.

Things have come a long way since then but I still hear subtle racist remarks on occasion in the work place, from family or friends, and in the general public. My daughter (who is Hispanic) has dealt with the same kind of subtle racism at school. I just encourage her to treat everyone as an equal (because they are) and to do right no matter what.

I was intrigued by your post because racism in the South (from a child's point of view) is the topic of my current WIP.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing Lynn, I really appreciate your honesty and opinion. I do have to ask, how did you realise it was wrong? Or were you just an exceptional seven year old!

I think in general, as children we accept the world our parents show us and it is only by leaving and living with others that we can begin to understand there are other ways of living (not necessarily better or worse ways, just different) and viewing the world.