Generally speaking, I am a very positive person when it comes to humanity. I have very high hopes for the future, and despite the fact that racism, sexism, homophobia and whatever other kind of discrimination you can think of still exist, I truly believe that one day, we will live in a world where all those issues have been long forgotten, and in which at least those groups that are discriminated against right now will be truly equal. But when my 8 year old cousin suggested that I couldn’t date a certain girl because she was black, that hope was pushed back at least another generation.
Now, I do want to mention that he fully realised that there was nothing wrong with being black, and his 6-year old sister was quick to jump in to state just that. However, just the fact that at such a young age they have already been taught the sentence “there is nothing wrong with being black” while also believing that black people are more different from white people than brunettes are from blondes… It’s rather frightening to me. After all, this means that they will become just as racist as my generation: they will know the rule that black people should be equal, but that doesn’t mean that they are “the same”.
So how can this be possible? Why do these 6 and 8 year old kids have these views, and why are they absolutely fine with me dating an Asian or an Arabic girl? I can assure you that their parents have raised them very well, which explains the fact that they were very firm in their “belief” that there is nothing wrong with being black. So then what is it?
In one word: media. In more than one word, media coverage combined with counter-effective activism and a whole lot of talk about the topic, so much so that even a 6-year old couldn’t possibly avoid it. Just think of the Black Peter discussion we had in the Netherlands a while ago, a controversy about racism that left hundreds of thousands of children extremely confused about how important someone’s race actually was after inevitably picking up fragments of opinions thrown around in daily life.
Of course, racism is an issue that needs to be discussed, and ignoring it all together is not a good plan. But there is a limit. As long as debate about racism still exists, it will never disappear, while many of the debates currently held are absolutely pointless. After all, as an example, trying to convince a 70-year old conservative who hates black people that he should change his views is a waste of time: it’s never going to happen. Yet still, debates are started for reasons just like that, to convince people who cannot possibly be convinced (think of the porn video at the Westboro Baptist Church, something that definitely didn’t convince any sin-hating homophobes).
Such actions bring racism into our daily news, confronting us time and time again with the realisation that black and white people are not the same, something that will always remain reality if we never stop talking about it. Old conservatives die, but potential progressives are born every day. Maybe it’s time we stop trying to convince those who we cannot convince, and begin thinking about the youth of today, because they are the ones who’ll be alive in 80 years, and they are the ones who should be finding out about racism from their history books, not from the news channel for kids. Activism is no longer about getting into the news: it’s about staying out of it unless a convincing point can be made, so that our children can live in a better world, because they truly are the future.
Don’t forget to rate/share/like this post, and if you have any thoughts of your own, please do leave them in the comments! And what if you’re new to this page? Try having a look at the list of most popular posts!
More on this topic from Dean Richards: