Next week begins European Week Against Racism, a week when organisations opposed to racism host events to highlight racial prejudice and discrimination, and to celebrate the existence of societies where discrimination on the colour of a person’s skin or their ethnicity is considered unacceptable.
Normally, I mark the week by working much harder on promoting an understanding of diversity of beers in Dublin’s excellent Porterhouse bars, since the week always falls in the second half of the Rugby Six Nations. This year, I was delighted to be asked to support the week with a bit of support in kind; I developed Ireland’s co-ordinating website, which will launch tomorrow.
Racism has always mystified me, though i know I do sometimes catch myself thinking moronic, stupid thoughts about people I sometimes encounter. I was brought up in a deeply divided society where the personality characteristics of the other community was learned by rote in the playground, and I suspect that the occasional brainfarts I have, which many people tell me they share, are hangovers from that.
We all judge people based on our initial findings of them, but racism, the idea that the characteristics and superiority/inferiority of an entire group of people can be ascertained in accordance with their ethnicity or the colour of their skin is a whole extra layer of stupid. So that’s my basic injunction, and the argument I shall make to any children I may have about racism. I’ll tell them how inefficient it is to discriminate against people, and how disregarding any person one might care to because of their skin tone or accent is essentially a decision to not harness their talent.
I’ll point out that diversity leads to curiosity which leads to the acquisition and creation of knowledge. And finally I’ll point out that there isn’t one racist I know who isn’t also a dreadfully boring person.
And if they decide to be racist or sectarian or any analogous thing, I will stop feeding them, rent out their rooms to preferably foreign lodgers and withhold my love. I don’t have time for stupid, boring children.
That is all.