And deep breath.
I’ve been made to question myself and my beliefs. Each person grows up in their respective countries with different stories, different upbringings, different experiences, different parents, different culture and different identities. It is this that I must take in to account before I spawn a load of feel-sorry-for-myself one-sided argument.
The issue of race and ethnic origin runs deep in my veins. My story backdates to a time when I was constantly forced to recognise the different shade of skin colour that I was born with, within a small working class town that had yet to experience or get to grips with such diversity. Generally, my younger through to my mid teenage years were positive but there is somewhat of a dark cloud that hangs over them in the form of racism and prejudice. Sure, these things happened to me through no choice of my own but it is now, during my late twenties that I am starting to realise that all of these experiences make up a person and they can either mess with the mental stability of a person or make that person stronger. I’m trying for the latter, but I’m well aware that there is still a chip on my shoulder. I haven’t really let go of those experiences because some of my actions and decisions are sometimes affected.
A “friend” of mine, someone who I’ve been getting close to, has challenged my very being and the manner in which I think about this subject. To be honest, the subject of race has been put to rest as a period of my life that happened because it was a part of my story. The whole of me then and now. I try not to dwell on the past but I guess it’s occasions like this that make me remember such things because I draw upon the knowledge of which I’ve acquired through experience.
This person is not from Britain. He is from a European country, one that is still growing and is poorer in a general sense, one that submits to the fear of radicalism and is traditional in its thinking. Of course, this is a stereotype and a massive generalisation and it isn’t true of every person who lives there, much like it isn’t true that every single Brit drinks tea to solve a problem. Although a lot probably do.
He is trying to make me question my views on equality. He is telling me that I am the same as someone who holds prejudice views on race because I also exclude people in the same manner that they do – that I don’t want to associate myself with people who are prejudice against someone, particularly Muslim people, which in turn makes me the same as someone who holds prejudice against a Muslim person or somebody else because they simply don’t like them.
I have tried to explain that I am open and liberal and all for equality, an opinion that has in some way been shaped by my past experiences. I explained that in no way have I blamed the whole of white Britain for what a few people put me through when I was younger, yet in contrast he does actually feel contempt towards Muslims because of what he reads and because his country isn’t as integrated.
I am not saying that multiculuralism is a method that works all the time. It has its problems. But I wouldn’t change it because without it I wouldn’t have been able to be the person I am today and the person I’m working towards being. I’m always grateful that my parents and their parents chose to settle in The UK. Indians have had it slightly different, given the positive relationship between The UK and India throughout history. Well, mostly.
After having typed this out, I have come to some conclusions actually. I probably need to be more understanding of his point of view. Perhaps he feels attacked by me. I am not a person to fight my corner by making someone else feel bad about their opinion but from his reaction today, perhaps I’ve been a bit too much. But calling my point of view “extreme”, or “dangerous” is shocking to me.
My friends and family all co-exist on the notion that people must live side by side and for the most part, race goes unnoticed. There are obviously going to be times when race becomes prevalent, but not always in a negative manner. I love Britain for having integrated immigration laws in to society and for enabling people of all races, genders, sexuality to be equal. I mean, by law, it certainly is the case but I won’t deny that it has its problems.
I did claim that he was projecting his views of himself on to me. But I think the friends he surrounds himself with pretty much share the same point of views. It’s sad in a way, that young European guys have such a viewpoint led by fear. I tried to get across to him that I like equality and that my opinions are borne from love, or an attempt to love everything and everyone around me. It’s a loved up theory that can’t always be applied but in my opinion it’s a nice way to live and to keep the mind healthy. In his opinion, he thinks I’m deluded and obsessed with this notion of multiculuralism.
It’s a tricky situation but I feel better for having typed it out. My thoughts are more clear. I think he’ll just have to think what he does of me. I think what I do of him – which is a man who reminds me of the people who used to be in my past, ignorant maybe, but not racist. I’ve met racists and they aren’t a nice bunch, but he’s a good guy at heart. I just don’t enjoy being told that my view on acceptance and tolerance is “dangerous” and that I tried to put him on sides. He has an opposing view to mine, it doesn’t make him racist but he doesn’t share the same opinion. He said that I’m calling him a racist.
Well… there was an occasion when he said “I don’t like black people.” But, this will sound strange as I’m not trying to justify his words, he said it in a way where he didn’t think he was saying anything wrong because it’s more accepted in his country. So is it an evolutionary thing or should each person consider what he or she is saying by searching inside of them? Not everybody can think like that though, without trying to sound patronising. Not everybody can reason outside of their boundaries and limits, and perhaps I need to listen to myself? I’m really not sure. He has absolutely frazzled my brain.
One thing I do know is that I am not a bad person for not wanting to hang around with people who hold prejudice views on race. I’ve had enough of that in my life. I’d cut them out just like I’d cut out violent people or people who are rude for no reason of people who make me feel bad for no reason. Or am I here to teach these people something?
I will think more about it. But less than I have done tonight.