Thursday, March 24, 2011

Racism & Segregation

I feel that there is so much inside of me that I want to scream it all out so bare with me while reading this long blog post and try to understand where I am coming from and that I am not trying to attack anyone in particular but the situation as a whole.
We, the whole world, seem to forget that we all come from the same seed, same mother, some say she is ‘Eve’ and others say she is 'Lucy’ (and it really does not matter whether I am referring to the Biblical/Quranic one or the Evolution one). We seem to forget that we all have the same build, anatomy, two eyes, one nose, a brain, two legs, two arms, a chest, an abdomen… need I go on?
I think that you know where I am headed here…
We seem to place titles everywhere we go… and we stick to those titles. It starts with I am a man and YOU are a woman and the rest follows. Titles bring on the feeling of hatred.
Let me list all the ‘I am’s’ and ‘YOU are’s’ that I can think of...
I am black and YOU are white
I am Muslim and YOU are Christian
I am Catholic and YOU are Protestant…or I am Sunni and YOU are Shiite or… I am Ashkenazi and YOU are Sephardim
I am Western and YOU are Eastern
I am Northern and YOU are Southern
I am Arab and YOU are European
I am Upper Class and YOU are Middle/Lower Class…
or I am Affluent and YOU are poor.
I am Hutu and YOU are Tutsi
I am Hispanic and YOU are Caucasian
I am a ‘Gulfy’ (Khaleeji) and YOU are not
I am Irish and YOU are British

I am Heterosexual and YOU are Homosexual
The list goes on and on and on… I can include the Native Americans, the Aboriginals or any Indigenous community in this and just so many others… but I will stop at that.
This segregation has been going on for years… way back… from the Aztec, Babylonian, Ancient Egyptian and Roman eras. This is not something new… however we are now in a different time period … There are more laws to stop all this… and we tend to follow these laws… but do we actually ‘believe’ or agree with them to our core?
Racism goes both ways… it is not like people might think  that it is usually one sided. I have had my share of racist comments thrown my way and I am considered of a ‘Caucasian’ color.
While my husband and I lived in Malawi, Africa we never thought that we would be on the other end of the stick, if I can call it that. We were called Muzungu (while person) every time we passed a group of little kids in the street or we cycled through a lovely village trying to avoid rocks thrown at us. I must stress that it wasn’t on a regular basis. Sometimes when I remember it I think that I do not really blame them it might have been due to the colonialist influence but I also believe that this feeling of hatred might have been due to fear.
One time my husband and I were driving to South Luangwa National Park in Zambia and our old white Pajero broke down in the middle of nowhere. It was a long corrugated dirt road and no one drove on it unless they were going to or coming from the national park.  We waited for hours for someone to stop and help out but no one did until a white car pulled up with four Zambians in it; three men and one woman. Two of them were mechanics… what luck! They were ever so sweet and helpful.
After 20 minutes of working on our car, the male mechanic turned to us and said, “If the situation was the other way around, you would not have stopped and helped us!” My husband and I were taken a back a little bit but asked him why he thought so, he said “Because we are black and you are white!” We engaged him in a debate about whether we, ‘white people’ would stop for a broken down car with ‘black people’.
When you think of it … they were right but not because they were black as much as it was because there were so many carjacks and robberies in Africa at that time. We have many friends in Malawi who had their houses or cars broken into and everyone, including the Malawians themselves, warned us not to stop for a broken down car or for a person running in front of our car waving his arms trying to stop us. They warned us that there might be someone in the bushes waiting to jump out and rob us or steel our ride. When we shared that information with our helpful mechanic he seemed to understand where we were coming from.
It is only fair to mention that I heard similar racist comments not only from Africans but also from others whom I thought were more similar, if I can use that term, to me. I remember one time, during the 2003 war on/invasion of Iraq, and after my husband had finished playing his double bass in a hall full of people, a ‘Caucasian’ gentleman approached me and said, ‘I know your husband is Canadian, but what are you?” I just had to stress the WHAT bit… I said, “I am Iraqi/Palestinian brought up in Jordan.” To which he replied without blinking an eye, “Oh… I would not say that if I were you.” I had such a puzzled look on my face but I did not skip a beat and said, “Why? I am very proud of where I come from!” My answer startled him and he did not know what to say to that… so he walked off.
What I am trying to get at in this post is this…
We do not need to place titles on our heads and in our hearts to make us a part of a group separated from everyone else in this world. NO ONE and I repeat NO ONE in this world is better than anybody else in terms of what they look like or where they are from or what religion they follow. I believe that what separate us are our DEEDS and what we DO and I do not mean our profession.
People… if we continued down the road we are walking then there will never be peace in this world. If we continued to cease other people’s rights, invade, conquer and oppress them based on their religion or our religious rights, ethnicity and/ or race, then we will NEVER stop the thousands of people who die every year. If we continue to BELIEVE that we are right and ‘them over there’ are wrong, then we will always be at war and every time we turn on the news all we would see are the newest weapons, bombs and machinery being tested on people like us.
When are we going to wake up and see that we all SHARE this world? And instead of robbing people of their rights, we should focus on how to live in it together and improve the situation for everyone so that we could have some peace of mind.
I love being an international teacher who travels from country to country learning about new cultures and appreciating the different tones of skin, points of view, beliefs, values and ways of life. I love the fact that my children are experiencing all this so that they would grow to love the WHOLE world and then maybe, when they are older, fight for justice and the dream of having a UNITED WORLD free of titles, inequalities, occupations and religious segregation. I do not want them to know the meaning of the word hatred or ever use it. It is a venomous word.
I have been told I am unrealistic…. Ok… so I am… I am a dreamer but I know that I have a wonderful dream…I will continue to dream it and work on improving it and myself in the process.

Have a look at this link… it is interesting to read about the amount of segregation out there…

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