Across the world we have dedicated a number of days showing love and awareness for various things. Today for instance is World Down Syndrome Day and World Poetry Day. But more importantly, for me (and this doesn’t take away from the importance of any of the other days), today is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
We need to eliminate hate.
In a nutshell, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination was recognised in the wake of the apartheid in Africa. However, over the years it has become a world symbol for equality for not only racism but also xenophobia and intolerances around religion. It absolutely baffles me how far we’ve come as a species over the centuries, however we are still judging one another by the colour of our skin, where we come from or what we chose to have faith in.
As a middle aged white woman, you might be thinking, “Who are you to write about racism and intolerances?” Fair enough. But wouldn’t that in itself be falling into this web of judgement and prejudice? I will be the first to admit that other races endure far more racism than I will have ever encountered. But it is just that. I have encountered it.
I remember in my late teens/early twenties I lived in a town where I was a minority. Not long after I moved in, I went to a petrol station to be told I was in the wrong part of town and better leave. My car was also broken into simply because my skin colour was different than the majority of the people who lived in my apartment complex. I quickly learned where I could safely go and where I couldn’t. I also learned what it felt like to be a victim of racism.
But it doesn’t stop at racism. Immigrants are victimised as well.
Again, I speak English and live in an English speaking country. What do I know? I have witnessed xenophobia more times than I can count. Of course we are force fed this through the media. But I’m talking about straight to my face. The most common from of xenophobia I’ve experienced is, “There are too many immigrants. They need to go back to their own countries and stop living off our government.” Funny though, because I’m white and speak English people forget I’m an immigrant.
I am no different than any other immigrant who lives in the UK. If you take away my skin colour and language, I am a woman who moved here to marry a UK citizen and gained employment within 7 months. By media standards, I am the immigrant who should leave. Suddenly because I speak fluent English and my skin colour matches the native race, I’m okay to stay. That shouldn’t be the case.
What is so wrong if someone believes in something different than you?
I personally do not follow any religion and I do not believe in a God. This wasn’t always the case which I’m sure is why I am religiously tolerant. I could never quite grasp why there was so much anger amongst religions. Surely if someone believed something different you’d just let them carry on and do their own thing. Growing up in a Christian environment I witnessed this first hand. Probably not the first religion you’d think of (cheers media!) when it came to religious intolerance but there you go.
There was a letter sent out yesterday by my daughters school. It noted that there is a “Punish A Muslim Day” letter circulating around the country. I was absolutely disgusted when I read this. Not only that but deeply saddened that vile articles like this were being handed out to children. This is not okay.
Hate is hate at the end of the day.
It needs to stop. I can hand on heart say that I do not care if someone is different from me. Whether it be their skin, country of birth or religion, I don’t care. What I do care about is if they are a good and kind person and that is how I am raising my children. I am lucky to live in a diverse community where my children are growing up around different races, cultures and religions. I hope that through this and the examples made by my husband and I that they will grow up to be tolerant and understanding adults.
All it takes is for every one of us to take a step back and look at life from other peoples perspectives. We are all the same deep down. Sure, there are some absolutely rotten people out there that do horrible things. That is just who those people are. They may say its because of their religion or because of the colour of the skin. It isn’t, they’re just arseholes. They come in all shapes, sizes, colours etc.
I think we can all agree that the world would be a better place if we all got along. Racism, xenophobia and religious intolerances won’t ever go away but we can make it harder for it to coexist. Stand up for it. Instead of allowing hate to blossom we should all stand together as one and embrace our differences. Life would be so boring if we were all the same. So on this International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, do some good and be kind. Show the world we can unite as one.