Yes, that old chestnut. We've all heard it haven't we? That moment in a conversation with somone, whether it be at work or in a social environment, with friends or strangers, when someone utters those all too familar words, "I'm not racist but ...." or "I'm not homophobic but ...." or "I'm not against disabled people but ....". I could go on, there are dozens if not hundreds of comments we all hear, maybe not every day but all too often.
It's a fact we are all biased in one way or another; some people openly and consciously biased (always seems worse to me) and others try to be as open and fair and unbiased as possible but still have a subconscious bias. I fall into the latter category.
Some time ago I was watching a video on social media. It showed a young American making a very eloquent political speech in front of hundreds of people. I was mesmerised by his charisma and his wonderful communication skills; not because of his age though, not at all. Then I suddenly challenged why I was so surprised; why shouldn't he be able to do this? Why was my brain telling me "people like him are not capable of this?"
The young man had Downs Syndrome.
It helped me to change the way I think and challenge myself, which I try to do every day. It's still work in progress but the more self-aware I become the better person I hope to be. There's still a long way to go.
The UK has changed dramatically in my 60+ years of living. Very much for the better in that thousands of people can live their lives openly in the way that they want to without fear of being abused because they don't quite fit the "norm", whatever your perception of that it.
But how did this change come about? How did it start? What did one or more people do to fight for the rights of us all to be equal and treated fairly? If no one had ever done anything we would still be where we were back then when discrimination was rife and even our laws supported it!
Change still needs to happen and will only occur if we all do something about it. It's about those comments you hear, challenging people's views when they express something that is or could be unfair to someone in someway. If no one ever challenges them they will carry on doing that and believe that it's all right to do so.
I live in a small North Yorkshire market town. It's beautiful and I love it. It's utterly unlike anywhere else I have ever lived in my life. Come along and you will almost certainly fall in love with it. However, it is so very far from being cosmoplitan. Look around and you will find it hard to spot someone who has a skin colour other than white. Not that there is anything wrong with that, it's just the way it is.
My husband had a customer yesterday who during a topical conversation about our new PM and his live-in girl friend in 10 Downing Street, uttered words to the effect, "Next thing you know is we will have a member of the LGBT (other variations of this are available) in there." My husband asked why was that an issue, I don't believe there was a response. Leaving my husband's establishment he was asked to take his homophobic views with him! How proud I am of my fella, not so sure I would have had the courage to tackle this in quite the same way.
We can all make a difference though. Please don't stand/sit by and watch or listen to someone voicing there bias whether it be conscious or otherwise. We can all make a difference for our children and their children too. They are individuals and have human rights just like us.
P.S. I would really like to hear what other people hear and see and how they have challenged others' views and beliefs. Please leave a comment, I might learn from you.