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Michelle Holmes Headshot

The Culture of Fear

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Growing up in south-east London I was all too familiar with the presence of the theory of racism. Living about five minutes away from the BNP headquarters, about twenty minutes away from the now notorious Eltham and going to a primarily white secondary school, although fortunate to not experience prejudices first hand I was well aware of it around me. I grew up in a family of differing shades of brown with lots of friends and loved ones of various cultures and religions, who all loved and appreciated each other and I was taught and shown nothing but love and acceptance, both for myself and equally as importantly, others.

The topic driving the mainstream news at the moment is the culture of racism. One that never disappeared might I add, it's just been accepted as a normal part of life. Like Kanye says in "Never Let Me Down", 'racism still alive, they just be concealing it'. I don't think it helps that from a young age (after the part where, in nursery and primary school we're too young to see the relevance of differing colours and 'races') were taught of racial differences, not cultural but racial. Maybe if we were taught to celebrate the human race and appreciate cultural differences, racism wouldn't be so embedded in our culture. From Stephen Lawrence killed for being black almost 19 years ago, where partial justice was served a lifetime later to Emma west's belligerent ignorant outburst at the end of last year (whose prosecution was aided by the fact she was caught on camera and the footage went viral) it's clear that hateful, stereotypical thoughts of 'the other' have historically and continue to simply be accepted. It's not just an issue another coloured skin either but more recently, religious belief - another result of fear of 'terrorists' as if being Muslim and a terrorist are parellel to one another.

Often times, we don't even like ourselves and again, we're taught not to. Malcolm X did the famous speech 'who taught you to hate yourself' which really strikes a chord with me in connection to the black community who have this deep-rooted obsession with skin tone which we know stems from mental conditioning from slavery. I know its also an issue in the Asian community, and more than likely other races where skin tone varies and I guess although 'hate' might seem an extreme term, I'm not sure that watering it down will do anyone any favours. It might not be very 'British' to say it as I see it, but it's the least I can do, considering saying nothing and ignoring the issue and in many ways, an encouragement of hate is how we've got here.

We hate parts of ourselves not typical to what we see in our media that displays a distorted depiction reality. It's almost as if we relate to that which is portrayed on our TV's, more than that we see in the mirror. Weird right? I feel that 'hate' of another can be a direct result of fear, manifested into a deflection of an individual insecurity onto someone else. Coupled with the fact that's its 'ok' to be hateful.

But who taught hate? It is a strong feeling embedded in us as we grow up. So from an individual 'hating' their weight, their teeth, their nose etc, it is a term we've been ok with for too long and deemed as acceptable. Like Stephen Lawrence, Trayvon Martin was killed because he was black. We've heard the 911 call put in by George Zimmerman on the day in question, where it has been widely reported that he is heard to mutter 'fucking coon'. We also heard the 911 call from the neighbour where we hear Trayvon screaming for help before he's shot dead and yet it took 42 days for his killer to be arrested and charged with a crime. Why is that? Because it is socially acceptable to be hateful, not only according to the public but lawmakers too. The latest reminder of this is with London's Met police.

Regardless of who it's aimed at and why, whether at others due to fear of the 'other' that we are not, or hate of ourselves its not a healthy thing to harbour. It's detrimental for so many reasons and threatens the very essence of our humanity, which is that of love. We have to wake up to this realisation and promote, teach and be taught love and acceptance, everyday through our news, our schools, our leaders and lawmakers, not hate and fear.

No ones humanity is superior to yours. And yours no better than anyone else's regardless of cultural or religious difference, or anything else. Love and acceptance of self equates being more loving and accepting of others. Fear might be stronger than love but that is what has got us at war with ourselves and others. And we certainly don't need more of that.