“Well, is it?”
“Is it what?”
Last week we had an input about race, ethnicity and discrimination. To begin with I thought it would be very straight forward: come in, get angry then leave. I was wrong, very wrong. Although I was aware that racism was still very active and a part of society, I didn’t realise that so many people accepted it as part of a ‘norm’. Day to day life, shrug of the shoulders and move on. I was left fidgeting in my seat as the pictures on the slide flicked between then and now, not much had changed. Before the input had started we were asked to think about the terms and scribble down a few definitions so we could compare our initial thought to our final understanding. I came up with the following:
- Race – A group of individuals sharing the same culture or ancestry.
- Ethnicity – A group of individuals that share the same ancestry, culture or religion.
- Discrimination – When certain individuals receive unfair and unjust treatment.
As you can see I struggled to find a distinct difference between race and ethnicity. At the time I felt that they blended into the one. I would later find out that this is a common problem. Does race come with a definition? Does it exist on its own?
Emmet Till’s name appeared in front of us and in that moment, I felt like I was back in my 4th year History class but I wasn’t. Here I was, sitting in a lecture theatre surrounded by people hoping to one day be teachers, social workers or those involved in CLD. It became clear that this was important to our vocation, that one day we’ll face discrimination maybe not directed towards us but we will witness it in our careers at some point. The slides continued through, comparisons showing the unbelievable canniness of the court case scene in “How to kill a mockingbird” to that of Emmet Till’s murder trial. We could see that the white man dominated the justice system and no matter how much evidence there was, they’d never serve time for killing a black man.
The 60s flickered on to the screen and a familiar MP appeared, Peter Griffiths. It was evident that the UK was never excluded from racism (let’s not forget the Great British Empire). However, political investment has always been somewhat of a burden to me and so, this was not news. Unfortunately, I was very familiar with Peter’s racist campaign slogan and again, the white man got away with it. Why? Popular belief at the time, I suppose. Immigration was at a rise, you know, protect our values… blah, blah, blah.
Flash forward to 1993. The case of Stephen Lawrence and the injustice his family received. A young boy murdered by a gang of white youths in what was a clearly racially motivated attack and how the metropolitan police managed to sweep it under the carpet. Stephen’s family never gave up and eventually received closure. It took the court two decades to find the suspects guilty and an enquiry was filed in October 2015 into whether the police had shielded the killers from prosecution.
Now in 2017, we have just witnessed white supremacists, who had enough confidence in their cause that they didn’t even feel the need to wear white hoods, storm through Charlottesville. Honestly? We haven’t come that far, have we? Racism is still very present and with the likes of President Trump I can only see it getting worse, not only in America. This happens everywhere, every day.
In the second part of the input we were shown that discrimination doesn’t only fall into the category of skin colour but also of sex. Being a female I always felt some sort of truth in this. As a child, I always felt that boys got the fun toys, we had to play with dolls preparing us for a life of kitchens and babies. Growing up, I began to see that woman have always been treated unfairly. They had to fight for their right to vote, to work… to be human. Whereas men, well, that was their given right from the moment they were born. Relating it to nowadays, we think that we have moved on but we haven’t really. Saudi Arabia have just given women the right to drive. In the 21st Century? And yet just because they can now drive doesn’t mean they have the freedom to do a lot of other things that we take for granted in Western society. Women are able and intelligent. We can dominate professions. Why should we be oppressed?
As someone who will be entering a profession that will deal with children from all walks of life, I can’t help but feel so strongly about this topic as a whole. How will I deal with discrimination in my class? When I stand in front of a sea of children, how can I highlight the importance of this? How can I enlighten them, teach them, that everyone is equal no matter what sex they are or what colour of skin they have? It all comes down to the controversial ‘myth’. Race.
We are all equal, you, me, them. We are all the same. We are all human. That is the only race.