To say that I am tired of hearing words like ‘Racist’ and ‘Bigot’ being flung around like cheap confetti at a crazed vampire-zombie wedding is the understatement of my year.
These emotive words make me question my every action, interaction and thought. It forces me to change my natural human behaviours, and monitor my own movements and expressions using some kind of inner security camera. Day in day out. I am tense. I am defensive. I am frozen in fear in case I put a foot wrong, and let out my inner screaming bigot, or allow my secretly hateful ‘racist face’ to reveal itself.
But what exactly are the definitions of Racism, and Bigotry?
I researched the Oxford English Dictionary and found these results:
1. Prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior: a programme to combat racism
2. The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races: theories of racism
racial discrimination, racialism, racial prejudice/bigotry, xenophobia, chauvinism, bigotry, bias, intolerance; anti-semitism
Intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself: the difficulties of combating prejudice and bigotry
prejudice, bias, partiality, partisanship, sectarianism, discrimination, unfairness, injustice; intolerance, narrow-mindedness, fanaticism, dogmatism;
racism, racialism, sexism, hetero-sexism, homophobia, chauvinism, anti-semitism, jingoism.
So, by my understanding as a mere layperson, racism comes from feeling superior to another race.
This could be down to fear of the ‘other’ or plain ignorance of the ‘other’ and their culture. The ensuing prejudice and antagonism directed at the ‘other’, is to my mind driven mainly by fear, natural human suspicion, and lack of adequate communication between races.
You may not forgive me for saying this, but in that case are we not all guilty of being a little racist at times? Look at two dogs meeting for the first time in the park; how they circle each other on meeting, barking, growling, sniffing, and sussing each other out, before eventually deciding to be civil, and sometimes even friends!
On a larger scale, I think humans are not so different from their canine companions. We all need time to see if other people are ‘safe’ and not out to harm us. It’s only natural. Only an idiot would rush in to an irregular situation, without first mentally assessing another human’s intentions. It’s called self-preservation.
I am a naturally wary person, and I admit to being a little scared of certain groups of people with a very different culture to mine. They are different, we are not all the same. Like the two mutts in the park, it is nonsensical to expect humans to blindly accept friendship from anyone, without doing the doggy dance first. Does that make me a racist? I hope not, as I am not trying to discriminate, antagonise, or pronounce my superiority in any way.
As for bigotry, another nasty word. Basically meaning intolerance of those holding different views from ourselves. Well, at times I cannot tolerate a pedophile saying that children enjoy what he forces on them, or a violent rapist telling us that women are second class humans, and we should be quiet about his crimes. Or religious fanatics trying to force us to go along with their ridiculous ideologies.
If that makes me a bigot, then so be it.
I just wish it wasn’t so fashionable, and yet so very destructive, to fling these accusations around all the time, at people we don’t agree with. It is actually the opposite of healing the world, it’s helping it to implode. Instead, let’s try to drop the schoolyard insults, and try to actually understand where people are coming from. Underneath all that vitriol they are hiding fear, and hurt, and uncertainty.
Inside all of our many coloured skins, I think we all are.
The Hedgehog x
P.S. I always objected to being identified as ‘white’, so I looked up my actual skin tone on a make-up colour chart.
It seems that I am a shade called Naples Cream. Very happy with that!
The World is alight with People of Colour!