When will we learn?
I don’t understand why one race, religion or class, thinks itself superior over another. We see examples of this superiority throughout history—be it the Crusades, the Slave Trade, Caste Systems, the Indian Act, the Holocaust and of late, El Paso, Texas. In short, racism exists everywhere, and humanity still has a lot to learn.
According to Oxford Dictionary racism is defined as: ‘The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.’
People are very uncomfortable with the term racism and take great offense at being called a racist. Something to consider...if you're being called a racist, dare I say it…you're probably a racist. But, after feeling defensive which is a normal reaction when you feel like you are being attacked, there is an opportunity to reflect upon your belief system and evolve your thinking.
Because I’ve spent the last two weeks blogging about the treatment of Meghan Markle in the British press, I’ll use this as an example. The British press has been called out for being racist in their coverage of Meghan which they have vehemently denied or perhaps, if we give them the benefit of the doubt--not recognized as being such. The Telegraph’s Twitter account, promoted the following tweet from Camilla Tominey, “I wonder whether Meghan was conscious of the bias she showed in choosing 15 ‘forces for change’ for the Vogue cover, all of whom were women, of which only five were white?"
I would like to challenge Tominey to think about Meghan’s list of trailblazers from beyond her ‘white’ lens. This is an opportunity for her to evolve her way of thinking. We are inundated with images of white women and men on magazine covers. The world is not white; it’s made up of many different races—it’s time a more accurate picture of our world be reflected on magazine covers, movies… Meghan’s list was not racist against whites it was inclusive.
Unfortunately, leadership south of the border has provided plenty of ammunition for hate to surface. Of late, Trump tweeted out a doozie when he suggested four members of Congress—Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rashida Tlaib—four Democrats on the left, four women of color, should “go back” to the countries “from which they came” if they were going to keep on criticizing him. (Note to Trump, 3 of the 4 women were born in the US).
When asked point blank if he was racist Trump responded, “If you’re not happy here, then you can leave,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, if you hate our country, if you’re not happy here, you can leave. And that’s what I say all the time.”
Again, to think beyond the 'white' lens...I wonder if Trump is aware that we live in a continent that is build on immigration and if the indigenous peoples had a strict immigration policy that only allowed in people with the same skin colour and beliefs as theirs Trump would not live in 'his' America. In fact, many of us would not be living in North America.
Humanity Continues to Fail
In the 90’s, when I was backpacking in Belfast, Ireland I encountered a VERY inebriated fellow who was f’ing the Catholics like there was no tomorrow. I asked him, why he hated the Catholics so much and his response was, “because they’re Catholics.” Despite being looped out of his tree, he could express his hatred with fervour, yet he could not articulate why he hated the Catholics so much and I found this ‘not knowing’ disturbing. This was one of those defining moments in my life because it put into reality how people are conditioned to hate. Quite simply...we are not born hating—we learn it.
We are also conditioned to fear. Previously, it was the fear of the spread of communism now, it’s the fear of radical Islam. But, do you know what scares me more? The white supremacists who live within our borders and are becoming more mainstream and active and, the conservative groups who are challenging women’s reproductive rights. I'll say it again--this scares me more.
Unfortunately, we have failed history; racism still exists, and it exists everywhere. As all cultures grow up with an 'unconscious bias,' I would like to challenge everyone--myself included, to look beyond the lens we are familiar with and view the world and all its people with compassion rather than a mindset of 'them' vs 'us.'