The other day, my children were telling me about a child in their school. One of them finished off their story with ‘I think he is Pakistani because he looks like [insert south Asian name here]’ …
I then asked them ‘What are you then?’
My eldest replied ‘English’ and my second child said ‘I am mummy’, to which my eldest expanded ‘we are Mummistani’
Hmmm I must confess I like that one! : )
Although this conversation made me laugh, it also taught me how my children perceive themselves. They have no idea ‘what’ they are yet…. they have no idea how they will be pigeon holed in years to come. They have no idea which box they will have to tick when they apply for a job or fill in a form.
Innocence is so beautiful and so inspiring. Children at some point do recognise that people look different, that they have different skin and hair but they also recognise that it doesn’t matter what you are or where you came from … it is all about HOW you behave and what you become to the people around you. That is why they are naturally drawn to warm and friendly people.
12 Years a Slave, the Oscar winning film has been well received globally. Some people couldn’t believe that this sort of thing ever happened. But it did. And unfortunately it still happens to this day.
Children grow up around adults that have stereotypes in mind and certain attitudes that portray a certain culture/religion in a demeaning way. They grow up believing that they are better than them and therefore can treat them in any way they wish.
There have been many stories recently in the news, where people have been convicted for either keeping ‘slaves’, for beating and torturing their employees or for subjecting certain groups of people to racial abuse, verbally or physically. This is not old news.
Unfortunately, in this age of multi-culturalism and equality and diversity, we still have people seeing themselves as above others because of differences in things that shouldn’t matter such as skin colour and religion.
If more time was spent on focusing on our similarities as human beings and our needs and wants, maybe we could spend less time on focusing on our differences.
As mere humans, we also need to stop stereotyping whole swathes of people by the actions of certain individuals that not only look different to us but more importantly have ‘behaved‘ unacceptably universally. We need to remember that each individual is responsible for their own actions and ultimately will be held to account independently. The old adage to not ‘tar everyone with the same brush’ comes to mind…
Having parents and extended family born in two different continents, to be honest, to this day I still don’t know ‘what’ I am! What I do know though is that we ALL came from our ‘mummies’, each and every one of us and therefore as my son put it… we are all ‘mummistani’ ; )
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