“Prejudice comes from being in the dark; sunlight disinfects it” Muhammad Ali’
One would presume people’s attitudes have changed over the years in the seemingly ever accepting environment that the UK has now become. Things that may have seemed alien to them in centuries and years past have now become a normal part of everyday life. Races are now intertwined globally, the mixed-race child becoming more common than a child of blonde descent; women are now world leaders where before their place was seen to be firmly at home. We have religious places of worship in every town for every faith in a country that was architecturally C of E or Catholic led; yes, the UK is definitely seen to be a cosmopolitan country where we welcome every and anyone & accept them for who they are.
‘My elderly neighbour was telling me a story and one of the first things she mentioned was the colour of the other neighbours’ skin.’
Gone are the days of stereotypical Alf Garnett attitudes, gone are the days of TV Programmes such as Mind Your Language, gone are the days you can call a gay man a ‘poof’, gone are all such days. We have laws, we have legislation, courts, governing bodies, we even have police charges. We have a realm of things in place that have educated us, trained us and told us what is acceptable behaviour and what is not.
After the trying week I’ve had, knowing I had this blog to write I have been observing from an aerial view. The question I wanted to answer is ‘Have people’s attitudes really changed?’. It’s all well and good being told by all these people what we should do and think, but no-one can control someone’s mind or their free spirit, meaning no-one can actually make people accept different things. Either they want to or they don’t.
It was clear early on in my observations that the youth of today have a completely different outlook on the world and what goes on in it than older people do. For example, my young son who is 12, whenever he tells a story about school there is no mention of any child’s colour when he describes the child to me. He would never even think to say ‘Jonathon, my friend, the black kid’ – whereas my elderly neighbour was telling me a story and one of the first things she mentioned was the colour of the other neighbours’ skin.
‘Some people can’t even be bothered to pretend what they really think’
At work, although I am a 24 year experienced, and well respected CP with 100’s of high profile events under my belt, at a recent meeting it was clear that the 4 blokes went off discussing positioning and stuff and I was dismissed with any opinions I may have had dismissed with me. My apprentice was horrified and didn’t realise what a “sexist” industry we work in. I just explained how used to it I was with a resigned sigh. Another client described me as “a good girl… but she aint really as good as us” – despite the fact that client uses us non-stop, he thought making himself look hard and macho was a better angle to go in. Personally I would have thought “yes they do a consistent fantastic job for us” would have worked a LOT better.
So yes, it’s painfully obvious, and very sadly blatantly obvious that although we are told to change our behaviour because it’s the right thing to do, there’s still a huge amount of people smiling one way while thinking another. Some people can’t even be bothered to pretend what they really think. Who can forget that YouTube clip last year of the woman ranting on the train about foreign labour? She was effectively imprisoned for Freedom of Speech, just because it wasn’t acceptable behaviour in the eyes of the world. I may not have agreed with her either but really, who are we to judge someone’s personal thoughts?
‘I think last year’s coming together of the UK as a whole, for the Olympics, for the Jubilee, was the first time I’ve seen Britain come together like that in a long long time..’
I have my own personal opinions, as I am sure each and every person on this earth does and I am personally of a live and let live mentality. I don’t care if my neighbours are gay, Rastafarians or martians to be honest. I do however, and I’m going to really throw this out there now, I do think that our country has gone a little PC overboard. Yes I said it. There is a very old saying “when in Rome do as the Romans” as I do feel that British culture has been somewhat drowned in among the united flags of Benetton. I think last year’s coming together of the UK as a whole, for the Olympics, for the Jubilee, was the first time I’ve seen Britain come together like that in a long long time. I have always been proud to be British, I love being a Londoner, and I love the diverse life I have & the diverse place I live it in. If there hadn’t been a consistent battling for changing of attitudes we would never have got to live the lives we do today.
But there is a long way to go yet, a long long way. Our kids are the ones that we have to concentrate on as they have been born into it already, so this is their normal, no pre-conceptions. It’s just what they hear at home we have to worry about. My old adage that is, It all starts at home. Any prejudices, any discrimination, it all starts there. Ask yourself today as a parent, or a grand-parent, or maybe as someone who is just reading this .. ask yourself what would happen if your child, or you, came home with a person of foreign descent or perhaps you had someone who was gay in your family? Would that person be welcomed into your family fold with open arms? Would they be treated differently? Or would you be wary to tell people? Maybe scared of how a particular relative may react?
My conclusion to my observations? Like I said earlier, we still got a long way to go yet.
Krista Brown is CEO of Persona HR