This Tuesday’s (Tuesday 25th September) lecture was focused on racism and patriarchy within both historical and current societies as part of our ‘Values’ input and prove to not only be very interesting and informative but also extremely thought provoking for myself.
Racism. It’s a topic I never thought would have to be spoken about with students preparing to go into professions such as social work, education and CLD work until I came to the University of Dundee. As I have learnt, the topic has so much more history and current prevalence in our own society as I had thought and I now see the full importance of the topic as part of my journey to becoming a primary teacher. It has occurred to me that it is our duty and moral obligation to not only ensure that in no way whatsoever do we hold such unjust, bigoted or discriminative views (and of course act upon these) within our professional or personal life but also to impart this same morality onto our young people.
The first example of racism within previous history we discussed was the case of Emmet Till, a 14 year old, African-American boy who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955. This was a case I was fortunate enough to have prior knowledge about as part of the History course I studied a few years ago at school however the lecture gave me the opportunity to look at the case from a different viewpoint. I was able to see it from the viewpoint of a teacher, responsible for the wellbeing of many children and also the values and views held by future generations and societies. Thankfully, there has been no recent lynchings reported since around the late 1980s yet I’m sure many can agree this is still a staggeringly too late date for such cruelty to have ended.
Stories such the Emmet Till case, Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott and many other abhorrent accounts of racism within the Civil Rights Movement and beyond are undoubtedly essential to be shared and reflected upon by all-yet have we really moved on since then?
It’s important to remember that not only was racism prevalent in social settings but also very heavily existed in and perhaps were based on racism within the legal system. Until the Emmet Till case, it was very rare for a black person to stand up and accuse a white person of a serious crime in court. This was clearly due to the extreme discrimination and stereotyping black people faced during this time. Despite plenty of evidence and actual admittance a few months later, the defendants were dropped of all charges and were paid $4000 to share their story to a magazine. Despite this, racism is STILL prevalent in our legal and political system today.
America is a classic example of this. Since 2002, the New York Police Department have been enforcing a ‘Stop and Frisk’ strategy where members of the police have authority to check people on the street for weapons. Despite this in itself already being morally controversial, a study has shown that Black and Hispanic people are stopped by NYPD twice the number of times than White people-yet only 1.24% of all stops have actually resulted in the discovery of a weapon.
Moving on from racism but still on the idea of discrimination, we discussed the topic of patriarchy and it’s place in previous and current generations. An extremely interesting and somewhat relevant topic to myself is the portrayal of women. We discussed historical examples of this also including the portrayal of women in power in Greek drama and also the Suffragette movement. Yet again, despite the shocking historical accounts being shared, this is another extremely present and large issue to this date. Woman are still told what is and isn’t acceptable for them to wear, their views are still deemed unimportant and unworthy and they are still portrayed as inferior within the sporting world.
Alike many other girls and women, I myself am very passionate about challenging such views and actions.
On a personal level, I have been fortunate enough to have been brought up in an environment where I have never felt inferior or incapable of anything simply because of my own gender-however I recognize this is personal to me and not the case for all. I have been brought up alongside many strong and independent women who have in my mind been exceedingly inspirational in defying and challenging the portrayal and supposed ‘place’ of women. My mum is a prime example here. My mum is a research scientist for the Scottish Government and so has personal experience in working within and studying the sciences as a woman. Science is still very much deemed as a ‘man’s job’ and so I feel very strongly about encouraging more girls and women into the industry. As a teacher, I know I can put this value into practice within the classroom to not only support the notion of girls in STEM subjects but also try to eliminate the common stereotype.
Whilst I would agree our society has most definitely advanced and taken steps forward in order to change previous perceptions and viewpoints, it’s also worth noting that there is clearly still lots of the same issues reoccurring today and change must be made. Not only through our own personal views and actions but also through the education of young people, so as they are confident enough to also stand for the beliefs and morals we impart on them and not fall into the trap of differing racist or patriarchal views through exceedingly influential streams such as the media.
In short, as professionals we are responsible for the future and must continue to challenge controversial viewpoints and ideas in the hope and aim of a better quality of life for our upcoming generations.