wHAT IMPACT DOES SOCIAL MEDIA HAVE ON INEQUALITY?
By Janine s White: Culture Editor
In the United Kingdom a high percentage of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Black Caribbean, Black African and White British strongly feel that they belong in Britain and while maintaining their own religious identity, according to the Office for National Statistics.
In the last article Janine White of The Mackayan, began an interview with Kerry, an English born White woman who formed an inter-racial relationship with her partner 28 years ago and have raised three children together. Continuing this dialogue Kerry has given an example of this discrimination and inequality which BAME communities have faced for many years.
“When my partner and I first got together, his Aunty was spat at in the street just for wearing a sari. A sweet lady is singled out for her choice of cultural dress and spat at. Firstly, the inequality here is that how can anyone be offended by a sari but spitting at someone is an assault – no matter what culture you are from.”
Explaining how this has become a vicious circle of mistrust and ignorance, she informs me that the Indian community are likely to now brand all white British as people who will spit at someone just for wearing a sari.
Echoing the last article, Kerry was pleased that she noticed daily racism was lessoning – until the birth of social media. She stresses that with or without thinking, people feel that it is ok to say what they want, when they want, and they don’t care who it hurts or upsets.
“Social media has changed the way we communicate with our hasty thoughts being shared in an instant with hundreds or thousands of people.”
Kerry expressed concern about how easy it is for people to share opinions on social media without thinking about who is viewing their posts. Emphasising that her sons, who did not choose who their parents were, have been affected by this as well.
“Racial topics tend to go over my sons’ heads – until they read a post on social media from someone on my friends list. They don’t get angry; they just don’t bother with that person anymore. I find it harder, because when it’s my friends or extended family making the thoughtless comment, I feel embarrassed and upset that my sons are experiencing this just because they are part Indian. We all realise then, that we are not as accepted as we think we are or as we should be.”
All in all, Kerry discusses how it makes them stronger as a family, how they have grown and learnt how to handle these things as a household. Through reflection, she believes that this is because they are accepting of all cultures and respect that each member brings a part of their culture into their world, allowing a thoughtful and respectful little unit. While bringing both White and Asian cultures into the family, they are also bringing the best of both, creating additional and modern personal values.
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“I have my own personal values that may have been instilled because of my experiences and I understand that the people saying off-the-cuff remarks do not have the same experiences so possibly do not have a full awareness of the wider impact of their posts.”
So, what is the solution to bridge the gap? According to Kerry and I am sure many others, the first step is for people to begin being nicer to each other, with more understanding about how we communicate on social media and the impact.
“I like to think that all these people are not racist, they just don’t fully think about what they are sharing. I totally agree with freedom of speech, but we will still need to be respectful and considerate of others. There is a difference between saying something off-the-cuff or inciting hatred and I have certainly unfriended one or two people who I feel incite hatred.”
Before posting, sharing or liking social media posts, Kerry suggests that people should ask themselves several questions… Would you speak the words of the meme they are sharing? Is what you are sharing applicable to all people in that culture or just a select few? Who is going to see your post? Would you say that in person to them?
Kerry points out that it is important not to get angry about what is seen and shared as it continues the racial divide. That through a balanced discussion she is often able to explain why the post is offensive and once the sharer is aware, they are usually apologetic about causing offence having not considered that she may have read it. She lays emphasis on how tiring it is for her to work out why she is offended and to work out how to put it back to the sharer in a balanced and informed way without creating a cycle of resentment. She encourages people to gain awareness of the impact of their decisions, comments and actions, asking questions about anything they are unsure about.
“I do get lots of questions which I love to answer because I think that if people learn to understand the different cultures, they are less inclined to make rash, ill-informed comments to others”.
To end the interview Kerry was asked to provide a statement that she feels should lead the way in repairing the racial divide.
“It’s all about raising awareness, sharing understanding and combatting each derogatory post one by one!”
Continue the Conversation…
Do the issues discussed in this piece resonate with you too? Let us know. Media enquiries may be made to The Mackayan on our email address
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