Delighted to bring you a piece by a new contributor, Aiden Lugg, from his blog Because it matters. Welcome Aiden
I hate to break it to you, you are not that multicultural!
In the wake of the death of George Floyd, and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement there has scarcely been a social sphere that has not been affected.
‘Little Britain’ and ‘Come Fly With Me’ have been taken down from streaming platforms, the directors of Ben and Jerry’s Ice cream were arrested for protesting, companies have pledged to do more, Confederate flags have been banned from NASCAR, premier league footballers have taken the knee in solidarity of the moment, even churches have been rocked and forced to face their own biases.
We are all being made more and more aware of our biases; we are getting the opportunity to take a long hard look at ourselves and weed out those shortcomings. For a lot of us these are unconscious moments, things we did not necessarily know that we did. Sadly, it appears there has also been a lot of conscious bias in our society though thankfully a lot of this is coming to the surface and is being dealt with.
We have heard the news of clumsy comments and in some cases, very conscious bias within the Christian church. This is a prime example of the insidious nature of racism penetrating what should be the most accommodating organisation, the church.
We see the news of Cross Fit losing sponsorship and subsequently parting company with their CEO as a result of his aversion to supporting the movement for equality. There is barely an organisation left untouched by this wave.
With this comes the tide of individual Facebook posts. Everyone is doing their bit to make sure they don’t come across as a ‘racist’ there are all sorts of posts about people’s friendships, families and life experiences. All shared to give them the upper hand in this ‘who can be the least racist’ game.
Sadly, it sends the completely opposite message.
I was in an ‘equality and diversity’ training session once. The facilitator began talking about universities in the UK and how one had conducted a study on the top attainers on their campus. It transpired that on average black students scored lower on coursework than their white peers, and an investigation was launched to find out why.
The facilitator went on to claim the university had decided it was because there was a pub near the university and often lecturers would go to there on a Friday. Students would often be there too, and both students and lecturers would begin talking over a drink, from which students would gain a deeper understanding of the course. Naturally, it was claimed, this stood those students in better stead to score higher.
Our facilitator then drew the conclusion that “ social drinking was not a big thing in ‘African Culture’ and therefore this was the reason the black students weren’t performing as well”.
I almost spontaneously combusted at this point. I calmly asked the facilitator if she would consider it ‘Asian Culture’ to eat Chinese Food, or if she would consider it ‘European Culture’ to do things that are traditionally linked with individual European countries. I finished by saying that having experienced the culture of different countries in Africa, social drinking was in fact a big thing in certain places. I was trying to draw attention to the fact that it is unfair to refer to a continent large enough to fit America, China, India, Europe and Japan inside it, as if it were all one country.
The continent of Africa is home to 54 countries, 1.216 billion people, with access to natural reserves of most of the important resources and an incredibly diverse range of plant and animal life. There are over 2000 languages spoken across the continent making it the most linguistically diverse continent of all.
I have seen many social media posts recently where people have spoken about their ‘trips to Africa’ or ‘African friends’ but little is said about the scale and diversity of the place and frankly it is getting a little wearing. If you are unable to recognise different cultures or learn more about where your ‘African Friends’ are from then I’m afraid you’re not that multicultural.
The Black Lives Matter movement is a call for all of us to educate ourselves, it is a call to become more aware.
It is not an opportunity for us to prove we aren’t racist by posting photos of our friendship groups or claiming ‘I don’t see colour’. It is a chance for us to make a real change and make huge strides towards true equality, in order to do that we need to understand history, we need to understand culture, we need to understand that we come from different backgrounds, yet we can make the world a better place for everyone.
Oh, the irony!
Recently we woke up to the tragic news that Tommy Robinson left the UK and moved to Spain to seek asylum. Of course, it is not really a tragedy it is in fact fantastic and the nation’s collective ecstasy is only slightly tainted by remorse that Spain now has the chore of dealing with him.
Mr Robinsons departure was met with some rather unsavoury comments but given Boris’ new quarantine rules at least we can rest assured that, regardless of the outcome of his asylum application, he won’t be back for at least 2 weeks.
This revelation got me thinking quite a lot. I am quite active on social media, I spend a lot of time reading through threads and engaging in debates with people who are against the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as some people who are out and out racist.
This latest admission from Tommy Robinson just reinforced in me how delicate arguments against the care of people can be.
The refugee crisis, as it is often referred to, is a very real tragedy. The scenes are harrowing, images of people, crammed into inflatable boats, looking for one thing, a better life. These people are met with abhorrent abuse, harsh and untrue generalisations, and general contempt. They are accused of everything from ‘Coming over here and taking our jobs’ to simply being ‘terrorists’ and everything in between.
Scarcely do we believe that these people are genuine refugees, who need a roof over their head, who want the best for their family, who want to prosper and make a better life.
Those who make it across the channel in the small rubber dinghies are the lucky ones, for every person that arrives there are those who have tried, and paid with life savings or worse, their lives.
There are young children, who have seen their family members killed in front of them, who have only the clothes on their back and a faint belief that if their inflatable boat survives the 21 miles across the channel, their life may, just may, improve. Young children who have lived lives we would not wish on our worst enemies.
Then, upon arrival, they are placed at the bottom of the social ladder, ridiculed, and mocked on social media, subject to abuse in the streets, told to go back to where they came from.
They are the subject of the hateful speeches of people like Tommy Robinson. They are called terrorists and rapists, told that they are benefits scroungers and a “drain” on our country.
It can be hard for us to relate to these people, most of us do not know what it is like to be in their shoes. Their portrayal in the media and the ramblings of far-right activists like Robinson and Farage are designed to turn our insecurity into weapons against refugees. We fear these people because we do not know anything about them.
What Tommy Robinson has done by fleeing the country
“In fear for his family’s safety” resonates with all of us. We would all do anything it takes to protect those we love, and it teaches us an unbelievably valuable lesson, one we need to learn from.
Why is Tommy Robinson allowed to seek sanctuary and other people are not, was he born in Spain?
The people that come to our shores are not dangerous, they aren’t scroungers, they aren’t a drain on our society, they are just like us.