RACISM CAN BE UNLEARNT

RACISM CAN BE UNLEARNT (we should all try it)
I’ve been lucky, my parents were not blatant racists, both from a Christian upbringing. My youth was spent in a Christian church learning to ‘turn the other cheek’ ‘love one another’ ‘give the shirt off your own back’ I’m now an atheist but still believe that the Christian church basically teaches good and moral principles. My racism has ebbed and flowed by association really, mob mentality, trying to ‘fit in’, looking back now and thinking that I wished we had a mentor allocated to each of us, one that we would actually listen to, advise us on the sensitivities of life, I was lucky, the Christian church taught me to have respect for others. So when my racism became obvious I self controlled and held back. I still have elements of racism running through me, I wonder if there is an element of it that dates back to the caveman? When I see someone different to how I look, I have a moment of, do I trust them? Will they hurt me? Although I do have the same reaction when a heavily tattooed rough looking person gets near me too. I was lucky, I got to work with some older Greeks, Italians and the occasional Turk, and despite my Dad having suffered from fighting against the Japanese in New Guinea, I was able to accept the Asian in appearance of the Vietnamese boat people, and indeed went to a few weddings and other social events, I have formed life long friendships that I cherish. I assisted many of these hard workers into apprenticeships and helped a few start their own businesses, they are just people like me, trying to do their best for their families. Even as I write this I find myself using ‘they’ and get angry with myself, it’s not acceptable, but in this context I am trying to explain and differentiate without being racist… Bloody hell, years of inherent and subtle conditioning I must be diligent against.
As a man, I am attracted to females, I certainly try harder to be friendlier, and race or colour of skin do not hold me back but I am sure that is because my sex drive is stronger than any inherent racism. So I am left with the thought that fear drives my racism, I smile a lot, people must think I’m a bit weird, but I like people, they interest me, my daughter tells me off for it, “Dad, you’re making them feel uncomfortable” but then soon comes around when a great fun conversation ensues…
I travel by public transport a lot these days, it’s great for people watching, I often observe a ‘person of colour’ or someone wearing a hijab who appears vulnerable or uncomfortable, I offer them a smile or a nod, and often it’s returned, and I can tell it’s with thanks, I just have a need to ensure they don’t feel alone, I am sincere in my thoughts and endeavours, some may interpret my intentions as patronizing, I hope not, but if they do it’s because they don’t know me.
Sure, I’m ‘unlearning’ and as you can see from my writing I have a way to go, it’s mostly in the language I use, I need help in that area, but I suppose it’s a balance, I can still use ‘they’ when I’m talking about the group of school kids that crossed my path, but mustn’t use it to describe people from a different race? Hmmm, not sure that I need to be that pedantic, maybe I do, at least while I’m trying to change. Let me know what you think?

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One thought on “RACISM CAN BE UNLEARNT

  1. Thank You for being brave and honest to tell your story about racism. I am glad to learn a lot from your story and so proud to know such a fine person in you.

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