Racism - my views on "** isms".....

Talk to anyone who has been on the receiving end of racial discrimination and they will all report a different way of dealing with it. Talk to anyone who has been an onlooker to racial discrimination and they will all have a different way of suggesting how to prevent it. In short, everyone has their own experiences and their own ideas. This is mine.
I’m white. I have only ever experienced racist remarks when I was with a black male. I have to admit I was thoroughly shocked because I had no idea of a black persons war with racism. However, on a similar note, one war I am familiar with is that of being overweight. I’m a big woman. I have been on the pointed end of so many ‘FAT’ jokes, I lose track. I remember, as a teenager, feeling like I was locked in a castle with a huge moat around it, and I was banging on the windows with a sponge, to attempt to get people’s attention to the fact that there was a PERSON inside – An INDIVIDUAL, trapped behind those barriers of extra skin. I do know and have felt those crushing blows dealt by ignorant individuals and I sense the injustice of it all.
I have lost job appointments because I was not a size 12, not pretty enough, a woman, too short (I’m five foot three), too young, too old, – but never because I was the wrong colour. However, it all amounts to the same thing. Society still puts too much stress on appearance. But no one has ever spit on me, or refused to serve me in a shop or stopped my children playing with theirs for any reason. There are so many levels of racism – so many places to correct, re-educate and change.
I remember being in a meeting with a colleague of a similar age, much slimmer than myself, but she was in a much less senior position. I introduced her first, and her job title and then myself, and my job title, and all the way through the meeting, these two male executives directed all their comments to her, despite her obvious embarrassment and both of us reminding them that I was the more senior and perhaps they would be kind enough to direct their answers my way. It was such a slap in the face. And, a wake up call. And so unfair.
Firstly, I think any kind of “….ism” has to be related to and traced back to perception. I was brought up in a predominantly white area not seeing a black person until I was about 15. I learned nothing of other cultures at school and was only offered language lessons in my senior years. All the books I read were about white people – mainly because there were no kids’ books available to me concerning black hero’s. I grew up thinking all black people looked alike and they all came from some vague tribe in Africa. Sadly, the English, as a whole, have a superiority problem. We think that no one else is as important as we are, and we don’t bother to learn other languages because we simply expect other people to learn ours. But, in my defense, if you are brought up that way, you are blinkered to many outside influences simply because it does not OCCUR to you to look any further until you are prodded or shocked into doing so. So you mosey along in your bubble, often for years, often permanently, unless something or someone widens your perception. For instance, I remember years ago watching Love thy neigbour and genuinely thinking it was funny. Nowadays, I would find it insulting, condescending and generally ignorant. Only because, my perception of what is racist has changed so much over the years.
Let me supply another perhaps more graphic perception. Remember ‘THE EXORCIST’?
I remember when the film came out people throwing up in the cinema, running out screaming, and fainting. I personally couldn’t sleep without a night light for months. It was a truly poignant, frightening and deeply troubling film. I watched it ten years later on my own, in my apartment, and remember thinking how silly it was, how tame and un eventful, even. So, in the space of ten years, my perception had been altered, my barriers strained. By what you may ask? By outside influences. From watching other, more violent, more troubling movies, my breaking point had been stretched further and further along the line.
So what can be done to prevent racism in our Community? Everyone can do their bit.
It has to be stressed that altering people’s perception is a slow, inch by inch, affair. But, it is the ONLY way to wipe out old fashioned ideas, and deeply rooted misconceptions.
For instance, anyone who is against any form of racism MUST take it upon themselves to be a disciple for the cause. If you witness it and you don’t speak out about it, you encourage it. I use every opportunity to alert people trundling along in their bubbles, to the fact that racism exists, is present and is whittling away at our basic human rights.
I never let an opportunity slip to educate people and wake them up to the reality of racism. Yes, yes…I know, I’m a hero. Quite frankly, I don’t know how I manage to fit my crusade into my busy schedule. And, yes, that IS utter rubbish. It’s quite simple. It becomes a way of life. You see it. You stop it. You re-educate onlookers.
You speak out about it to anyone within earshot. You make it plain that it is unacceptable. You show racists up for what they are, pathetic, ignorant individuals, sheep. You stand up for what you believe in. You alert other people to amend their own perceptions.
But, aside from standing up and being counted, there’s another way to alter perception. Educate our children AGAINST it. Children are not born hating other children of a different colour. They simply don’t see it. Our children are not born racist. They are made racist.
They grow into racist adults who plunge all their misery, stress, failures, and inabilities into aggression which is then pointed at someone of a different colour or creed. They don’t see it as pathetic because their perception has not been altered.
There has to be more children’s stories featuring people of a different colour. There must be more tales where white people don’t get all the top jobs, and black people sweep up or cater to white people. This is where perception is altered, from childhood. Teachers must make it their responsibility to teach children the meaning of FAIRNESS. Children can be very cruel and blunt; this is a true opportunity to teach them otherwise before they grow up and direct their cruelty to people of a different colour or creed or weight or religion.
I am now, quite frankly, deeply ashamed of the perceptions I once held about black people. I cannot imagine how I could possibly have held that perception in the first place, but hold it, I did, and without the aid of people standing their ground, pointing out my mistakes, amending my perception, I would sadly still hold those misconceptions and ignorant views.
Travel broadens the mind. I remember going to Barbados and seeing thousands of people living in broken wooden huts, with no proper plumbing, no inside toilets, often large families crammed into 2 or 3 small rooms. I was appalled. Yet these people were happy, joyous and often far less stressed than my neigbours with two cars, a dishwasher and a Jacuzzi.
However, I also remember standing for way too long in a curtain shop waiting to be served and watching all the black girls serve other black girls before me. I came out grinning like a Cheshire cat; we whiteys don’t get enough of that treatment to know how it really feels. I said nothing. I waited patiently. I have seen so many black girls do the same that I felt it my simple duty to not only allow them their moment of triumph but also to ‘take it on the chin’. I could have made a fuss, quite rightly so; I could have caused a scene – but I felt it was my duty to put up and shut up, for the years of this kind of treatment these girls must have had to live with.
I would happily have stood quietly all afternoon.
You see, when one is brought up in a particular closed environment (like a lot of us are) it’s too easy to ignore the outside world, and its poverty, and its misery. I used to think that if I didn’t read the papers and I didn’t listen to the news, I could keep a clear head, not be distracted by poverty, misery and unfairness. And anyways, I was just one person, what could I do? And there lies the answer. It only takes one person to avert another persons perception. If, in your lifetime, you only avert one person’s perception, they will, in turn, avert someone else’s – you never know when your first or only good deed may reach someone important enough to avert thousands. Small seeds beget huge forests eventually.
So, my ramblings finally make their point. Racism is a disease. It must be stamped out. ANY kind of unfairness, unkindness, or “…ism” must first be perceived to be wrong and it is up to every human being on earth to do their bit to ensure that this message gets across.
One single individual can make a huge impact in a small way. Stand up and be counted wherever you are, whenever you can and whatever you do. Every, single individual can make a difference in some way.

Racism - my views on "** isms".....

Gortsmum

Canterbury, United Kingdom

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Artist's Description

a few of my ramblings on the importance of stamping out “…**isms” ….

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  • Teacup
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  • Gortsmum
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