I was recently described as an 'angry' blogger who writes nothing but 'done it before' articles. According to some readers, racism and sexism are 'exhausting' issues which need to take a back seat in order for more 'pressing' matters to take front and centre stage. However, I always thought that those who choose to believe the latter fail to acknowledge that bloggers and journalists seeking to uncover these stories do not lack originality. On the contrary, these distinct voices which shed light on real human experiences are not only an indication of the ongoing struggle to accept, reflect or better yet, create real tolerance, but also of the lack of social progress. Nevertheless, the growing gender and racial inequity is not the core problem. The root of this issue lies in the fact that we, as a society, have become accustomed to harsh inequality. We expect to turn on our television and hear about a hate crime. We have become so comfortable hearing discriminatory remarks that we fail to acknowledge the difference between a joke and an insult. We await the ignorant comments or the unwanted sexual advances because 'its just the way things are.' Evidently, we are saddened by the reality, however, we soon forget our anger as another news presenter fills the seat of his/her predecessor informing us of another headline looming large.
Example? On the night of his birthday, a young black man studying at the University of Leicester was refused entry to a nightclub because of the colour of his skin. The response? First, the Leicestershire Police stated that it took hate crime seriously and that 'the incident has been reported and recorded and inquiries are ongoing', yet the incident took place in May, and we are still waiting for the Ghost nightclub to take responsibility for their actions. Second, as a student, the university failed to be a progressive institution which not only publicly condemns discriminatory behaviour but also takes a revolutionary approach to racial equality. Third, tweets and posts were uploaded and articles were written, but the reality remains that despite the online activism, we have developed a selective memory which chooses to remember who wore what at the Oscars but fails to recall society's everyday exposure to racism.
I asked my brother about his experience at university and he laughed. ' This is nothing new, if you want to go to a club, don't go with a group of black guys, you are better off going with other white guys and girls, that way you look less threatening. But if you do, split up in small groups and go at different times otherwise they will look for any excuse, like the shoe policy. It's all about the black quota'. He spoke with a smile which disturbed me, so I asked how he could find any of this amusing. He replied, ' It's just life Tracey. What do you want me to do, cry?'
But I did. My university experience was very similar. However, as a woman of colour, my gender was not regarded as a threat but often associated with sexualisation. In effect, society has only recently become aware of the sexual harassment and assault taking place in the majority of universities where one in three female students have experienced unwanted sexual advances or sexual assault. We quickly assume that as university students, undergraduates possess the social tools for respect, tolerance and greater understanding of other members of different cultures, this is not the case. The persisting sexist attitudes and the quotidian nature of ignorance and harassment is not only exemplary of the universities' reluctancy to face these realities but also of their inability to acknowledge that these are matters of great urgency.
I tried contacting my administrators, union reps and even the National Student Union who conducted the 'That's What She Said' report, however their responses all began and ended with 'I'm sorry to hear about everything you're been going through'. Talk is cheap. I realised that if I sought change, then I needed to become the agent of change, by participation and action. As a result, I became a blogger for the Huffpost and wrote my first article ' You are hot but I don't date monkeys' because I wanted to be listened to, not heard, and I wanted my experience to be discussed, not presented.
As the truth stands, we must all take responsibility and speak out against injustices in whatever form they may take because we are, to a great extent, accountable for the world's emancipation, empowerment and evolvement. Therefore, as long as racism and sexism continues to be inextricably intertwined, you can expect 'angry' and 'recycled' articles, and for that, I am certainly not apologetic, so sit back and enjoy.