Saturday, April 26, 2008

Open Your Eyes

As any non-native will agree, there are blissful advantages and gross disadvantages to being from a minority group of the population, whether or not you acknowledge it. I was born in Cambridge, England, to a Dutch father and an American mother. Whilst I still haven't figured out what nationality I am 16 years down the line, I do know that I am not English, despite having lived here for 13 of the those past 16 years. However, I have been careful to keep my mouth shut when controversial topics involving my parental homelands come into play. That does not mean that I do not get jibed at due to my parentage, but I do what I can not to provoke this bigotry/ racism.

That brings me on to my next point. Thanks to Martin Luther King Jr, the West and beyond is acutely sensitive of white on black racism. There has been a campaign from the Football Association here in England to "Kick Racism out of Football." Generally speaking this effort, and other likewise movements have made black-targeted racism the bane of society. Yes, it is true, of all ethnic minorities of the post-WWII era, the Blacks, sorry, African-Americans suffered the most, but that doesn't mean nobody else suffered. To this day, Subcontinental Asians are the butt of jokes in the UK. Is this racism? Yes. Is it being actively discouraged? Not loudly enough.
But it isn't just foreign races that are feeling the heat in the UK. Everyday at school, without fail, I will face an anti-American jibe, with varying levels of intensity and thus offense. Likewise, due to connections with the Middle Kingdom, I often face tirades of verbal diarrhea with regards to China. I know its not racism, but it can be very offensive.

Unfortunately, so regularly does this occur that I have grown to grin and bear it, but the fact that racism and bigotry are so widespread and so acceptable is really shocking, considering that the UK is part of the UN, NATO and the EU, all organizations which thrive on (supposedly) international unity and tolerance.

The political noise regarding what is an annoyance for me, but a serious issue for others, is virtually zero, which for me indicates that people a) don't realise that they are spewing offensive vitriol, or b) accept it as part and parcel of "the British Experience."

I sure hope somehow its neither, as I absolutely adore the coarse nature of life in the UK, but too often people up the sandpaper gradient too far. However, I realise that, as ever, the great majority share my abhorrence of racism. Credit to all but the putrid minority for wiping out one facet to racism, but there's still a lot of work to be done.

Just open your eyes, and speak out. It works.

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