” All human beings belong to a single species and are descended from common stock. they are born equal in dignity and rights and all form an integral part of humanity”
Throughout the 18 years that I have lived, the concept of race and gender has always been something I have found myself thinking about. As a mixed race female, the issues of racism and sexism have always been important to me. However on Tuesdays lecture I learnt that not only am I extremely lucky that I have been born into a more accepting society than that of the 1950s and 60s, I also have it very easy. We were told the story of Emmet Till, a 14 year old boy who was beaten and killed by the owner of a cotton field, after being accused of flirting with the owners wife. The pictures we were shown of Emmet really hit hard. A photo of his face after it was beaten. A much worse photo of his mother crying over his dead body. What made of all of it worse? The fact that the story had been fabricated by the cotton field owners wife. We then discussed the Jim Crow Laws which separated the white people from the coloured in places like cafes, hairdressers and even schools. It really hit me hard to think of how it must have felt for non-white people seeing the terrible signs that stated “white only”. A sign I saw that really angered me stated “No Dogs, No Negros, No Mexicans”. I felt that this really dehumanised them and must have made them feel so inferior. We looked at something called the Critical Race Theory which argues that racism is the everyday norm for ‘people of colour’. It argues that racism is not exceptional but embedded within legal systems others social institutions, which is why it is so persistent. As someone who lived in a small town in Ayrshire for the majority of my life, I experienced everyday racism as being non-white was very unusual in Ayr. For me to think of how I feel when I experience racism and compare it to the much worse racism that black people experienced in the 1950s and 60s, the way they must have felt unimaginable.
For The second half of the lecture we looked at sexism and the pressures women face in todays society. We were shown a video made by Always called ‘Like A Girl’. This showed people of all ages being asked to do something like a girl. The older people would do the action in a pathetic and weak way, whereas the younger girls would do the action in the best way they could. A young girl was asked “what does it mean to run like a girl?” She replied confidently “It means run as fast as you can”. This shows that the gender roles are something that is implanted into us by society and those who are still very young have not been affected by this. As a teacher I would want to nurture this quality in young children and try my best to keep them informed of more positive gender roles.
This was a very hard-hitting, emotionally provoking lecture that I feel is very important for everyone to hear as it shows the very important issues that we face every day in society.