We all know about it. We have all heard about it. But we don’t often think about it happening in our country. We think we are exempt from it. What is it? You may ask what’s so important for me to talk about it. Well it’s Racial Discrimination.
I’m here to tell you that you aren’t exempt from it. It happens all around the world even in little New Zealand and not just in America or England but here as well.Racial discrimination happens to all of us. We don’t think that it happens in ‘our’ town but it does. We go “not me, I treat everyone as equal, I don’t discriminate against anyone”. Do you know racial discrimination is defined as ‘views, practices and actions reflecting the belief that humanity is divided into distinct biological groups called races and that members of these different races show attributes which can make them less desirable/more desirable/inferior or superior.People might think that Chinese people are less desirable because they have slantie eyes or that blond haired, blue eyed people are more desirable. Or it could be that people think white people are superior to black.
This is racial discrimination for you because the opposite would be to treat all people equally, but sadly this is not the case.Have you ever looked at someone and judged them just because of the colour of their skin? Or their ethnicity. Not even giving them a second look because they were dark skinned and Vanuatian. You could have just missed the opportunity to make an amazing friend, but you could not get past the fact that they looked a lot different to us.We all know about racism and it sits in the back of our minds. We know it is wrong and that people should not be discriminated against, but we don’t ever see ourselves being racist or it happening to us. We see films and read novels that deal with the issue of racial discrimination; can you name a movie that is linked to racism? I can list many box office hits that deal with racism.
Producers are still creating these movies even now because certain subjects raise controversy and which often converts to sales.The new movie Django in which the lead actor is a black man who works for a white bounty hunter we see the continually theme of racial prejudice running in the film. Other films we all know about which have become iconic over the years, being viewed by not just one generation but multiple generations, also deal with these issues of racism. Some of these movies and novels would be ‘Remember the Titans’, ‘American History X’, ‘The Help and Mississippi Burning’ and ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’. All these movies are based in America, so this is why we don’t often think about the racial discrimination that is happening right on our doorstep.We see throughout the novel ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ how encompassing the issue of racial discrimination is. We see through the character of Tom Robinson the injustice of racism first hand.Tom Robinson is a victim and we see how he is convicted and charged with the rape of Mayelle Ewell despite the lack of evidence the Jury in town is reluctant to take the word of a ‘black man’ over two untruthful white accusers.
We see how Atticus, the lawyer defending Tom, tries to get the Jury to look past the race and stereotype of the accused being ‘black’ and to serve the justice that is needed. The Jury had in their minds a stereo type that all ‘Negros lied and cheated because of the colour of their skin and therefore can’t be trusted. This is racial discrimination.Racism is alive and well in New Zealand- I know for a fact, and so do you, that different ethnicities and cultures are treated differently in our society. Of non white ethnicity and Pakeha are treated differently as people think that ‘white people’ in New Zealand are better educated and superior.
It shouldn’t be this way but it is. We see this all around us in our daily lives, through housing, education, social interaction and economic development. We see ‘white people’ have more of the positions which require higher education and that are well paid. People of non white ethnicity feature in much higher ratios in lower paid jobs and one of the factors which has an influence on this is education. The lack of legitimate social gain has also resulted in a higher population of people of a non white ethnicity in our prisons and the perception that different races are of less value can be seen within our society.
This is discrimination.New Zealand is trying to become a country with less discrimination, however the issue will always be there as there is a ‘side of human nature’ in many of us which likes to think itself better than others and the colour of skin is an easy target to home into. There are real efforts to change this issue in our society. We can see this through equality opportunity laws, targeted funding to give greater education opportunities and the variety of different ethnicities’ in higher status jobs.We do not want New Zealand to be known as a country with high levels of racial discrimination, we can do our little bit to help make it not.
How do we do this? By not judging people by their ethnicity and colour of their skin as this will help to produce racial harmony instead of racial discrimination.