When asked last week what I thought race and ethnicity meant, my answer was that they were individual traits that make each of us unique to one another. Everyone’s race is different depending on your place of birth or skin colour and people’s ethnicities depend on their religious beliefs, history or culture. I realised that when talking about race and ethnicity we were almost dividing and categorising people into groups. I didn’t see an issue in these terms as it showed that although people have differences to one another, others have commonalities e.g. same skin colour or beliefs.
When then asked what my understanding of prejudice and discrimination was, I explained that it was a person or people’s negative opinions and views towards an individual or group. Discrimination was when those negative views became negative behaviours and potentially harmful actions. I also thought that these attitudes were a thing of the past. The stories of Rosa Parks or the killing of Emmett Till, were part of our high school history lessons. The parts Martin Luther king played in the civil rights movement and the various others who fought for their right for equality, were all parts of events in the past, which I thought we, as a society today, had learnt and moved on from. I was shocked after our lecture about how wrong I was.
The video above was filmed at the time of the recent Charlottesville attacks on August 12th 2017. It highlights the mind sets of those part of neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, and how these racist attitudes, of white American’s being the superior race, still exist today.
I never quite realised how today when any form of uprising occurs we are quick to focus on the terms race and ethnicity. We use these words in a negative way to almost give a reason why everyone of that race or ethnicity should be blamed. We oppress these people by pointing out the fact they have differences and we still hold outdated prejudice views towards those who are out with the ‘normal’.
Many of those, such as black African Americans, have fought for their right to equality in the past and are yet still being discriminated against. In our lecture I was made aware of the amount of unarmed black Americans who have recently been shot due to prejudice and white superior mind sets of those in the police. It amazed me to find out that black African Americans are 11 times more likely to be shot by police, and after watching a TED talk video from Clint Smith about how to raise a black son in America, I would never before, have thought that these serious life lesson would still be needed today.
To find out that issues from the past still haven’t been resolved today, and if anything are getting worst, was a shocking realisation of what a privileged life I live. I could never imagine the uncertainty a black African American must face when approached by those in society employed to protect us and make us feel safe, not more fearful. But not only Blacks, today prejudice views and acts of discrimination effects a wide spread of people. Race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality are just some of the few reasons people face oppression in their everyday life . The new American president, Donald trump uses his position of power to reveal his hate for Mexicans, Jews and Muslims and many others. Almost encouraging these acts of discrimination against them. Attitudes like these will not help move forward and will instead hold us back in becoming a society with equality for all.