Combating Segregation – Why Underrepresented Groups Need To Work Together
The recent Meghan Markle and Oprah Winfrey interview saga has given rise to a media storm centred on racism. And while these issues are certainly important to explore and to bring into the public eye, they have only served to widen the segregation gap – not necessarily only between the black and white communities, but also between the black community and those of other underrepresented groups.
Significant Divides In the UK’s Communities
Despite more people in the UK now acknowledging the problem of racism and prejudice in their communities, it’s clear that there is still a significant divide between the white majority and communities from other ethnic backgrounds. Non-white candidates are still regularly discriminated against in the workplace and, although there have been improvements over the past couple of decades, there is still an imbalance between the way white victims of crime are treated and those from other ethnicities.
That’s why the newspapers and TV channels have been inundated with news reports about Sarah Everard’s kidnapping and murder in the past few weeks, but the coverage of black women who have suffered a similar fate, such as Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman failed to make the headlines. Yet, it’s important to recognise that this isn’t an issue of black v white. It’s an issue of white v colour. This is where we’re falling short.
Movements like “Black Lives Matter” have a key role to play in raising the issues surrounding prejudice and racism today. But they also have a downside. They narrow down the problem to solely one that affects the black community. Whereas, in fact, prejudice isn’t just something that black people face in the UK today, it’s something that is experienced by those from a wide variety of non- white ethnic groups, from Arab and Chinese communities to those from South East Asia and the Indian Subcontinent, and everywhere in between. By focusing unduly on one specific ethnic group, there’s an implication that each community has its own battles to fight and issues to face.
The Definition of “People of Colour”
The way that we see the world today has its basis in a slave-trading heritage. While society has acknowledged the wrongs of the past, it has lost perspective of just how many people were affected over the generations. And when society doesn’t know its history, how can it teach that history to the next generation so they can work to avoid the problems that we’ve experienced both in the past and today in the future?
When the media uses the term “people of colour” there is an overwhelming opinion that it is the black community that is being specifically referred to. However, this isn’t and shouldn’t be the case. People of colour means anyone who is from a non-white background. Whether they be Asian, Middle Eastern, Afro-Caribbean, African… the point isn’t the tone of their skin colour, it’s the fact that their skin, whatever shade it may be, isn’t white.
When we look at things this way, we can see that the problem that we still have in the UK today of segregation isn’t necessarily a problem caused solely by the white majority. It’s actually partially a problem caused by non-white communities themselves. By seeing themselves as separate groups and by failing to act cohesively to overcome the divisions in society, they are hindering the overall goal to increase diversity and heal the racial rifts that still exist.
Achieving Equality Is About Underrepresented Groups Coming Together In Solidarity
Although I am a woman of colour, and many of the women that I work with are from a similar background, I use the term “underrepresented groups.” To use the term “women of colour” would be to imply, under the current way of thinking, that every woman that I work with is of black heritage and this is not the case.
Using the term “underrepresented groups” to refer to anyone who is non-white is a way of overcoming the separation of tribes that we see all-too-often today. Rather than thinking about defined non-white racial groups in terms of Afro-Caribbean, African, Indian, Asian, Arabic etc, we should be thinking about all of those communities coming together as a single unit in solidarity to overcome the prejudices that they all experience in the UK today.
The prejudices that exist in the modern world all stem from historical events. Until we begin educating ourselves and the next generation about those events, the masses will never understand where the deep-seated issues regarding racism come from. Without a clear understanding, society can never move forward and take steps towards equality for all.
All Underrepresented Lives Matter
So, what is the take-home message from this post? My main message is that it shouldn’t just be all about Black Lives Matter. Yes, of course it goes without saying that they do. But it isn’t just about black lives mattering. It’s about the lives of people of all forms of colour. All underrepresented lives matter. So it’s up to us – representatives of those underrepresented groups, to come together and work as a single team towards equality. When we recognise that one nation cannot be more privileged than another, we can all move forward into a more diverse and equal tomorrow, where everyone, regardless of their skin tone can enjoy a better quality of life both at home and in the workplace.
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