A recent phone conversation with a school friend who was visiting the United States was the most honest and refreshing one I’ve had in years. The reason—we put diplomacy aside and spoke frankly like the old days when referring to people by their physical attributes and quirks wasn’t being discriminatory.
I’ll admit that her initial recollection of a classmate as short, dark-skinned and insignificant-looking took me by surprise having lived in North America for more than 17 years. As we laughed off our candour, it took the veil of the rest of the conversation leaving us giggling like schoolgirls and revelling in the moment. But having been schooled in diplomacy and political correctness for more than a decade, I know that any more bluntness would have me looking over my shoulder and guarded responses would follow.
I’ve often written and spoken about how playing the racial card can tip the hand in your favour. It’s time to acknowledge an ugly truth, in a political and social scenario where your minority status is something you wear on your sleeve because it can open many coveted doors, racism is being encouraged rather than erased.
Anyone who thinks differently is not in touch with reality or prefers not to accept it. Being privy to some very heated and overtly racist conversations behind closed doors has led me to believe that what we are not able to say openly seethes within breeding hate… and yes, jealously too. It is time we acknowledge that multiculturalism is not working the way it was intended. After all, it was meant to be inclusive not exclusive. More importantly, acceptance does not come from concepts or cultures being forced down your throat and being given more importance than your own.
The exact opposite happens when you are not on the receiving end of the privileges or have to surrender them.
Behind closed doors the knives are brandished and it requires little stoking to start a raging fire of anger and discontent. Many feel the disparity brought about by race and religion but no one wants to be the one to say it for the fear of being judged. We all want to be politically correct. Let’s face it–our jobs, social standing and even certain relationships depend on it.
As a result when you have a Rob Ford or a Donald Trump, you suddenly feel exposed and compelled to denounce them even though you agree. Few have the gumption to stand their ground in public. You don’t have to be a Trump supporter to face facts. There are many who share his views and that is his support base. Not just in the United States but here in Canada, Europe and the UK as well. That’s what caused Brexit in a way, isn’t it? They’re even willing to talk about it at length so long as they can remain anonymous. For the fear of repercussions. Arguing about whether they are right or wrong won’t change the way they think or feel.
Do many white people feel marginalized? Yes, they do!
Are some Christians sore about the fact they have to say Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas in an essentially Christian country? Yes, they are! They want to know why it’s okay to say Happy Diwali or Happy Baisakhi or Id Mubarak but down play the Christmas season.
Are some people suspicious and afraid of certain radicalized communities or aggressive races? Of course.
While it doesn’t give anyone the right to victimize an individual because of their discontent or fears, pretending it doesn’t exist doesn’t help either.
To say “all lives matter” doesn’t mean black lives don’t count but that we might be fed up of being categorized on the basis of colour, gender, race or sexual orientation. After all we are trying to erase these social boxes, aren’t we? While it benefits politicians and vested interests to keep them going, it’s down in the trenches that things can turn really ugly because of it.
I’m not advocating that we should have the freedom to shout our biases from the rooftops or attack people because of it. Oh no! Simply that community, race, religion, and gender should not become the focus of our professional, political, social and personal dealings. Whatever happened to merit, character and simply liking someone for what they are?