I remember once I was sitting on the bus and some people got on. I was sitting at the back of the bus and there were only 2 of us. Thus there was lots more room. The people that had just got on were young and I figured that they may sit at the back as they continued to move down the bus. I moved my bag so that there was room for them to pass me and sit down. One of them looked at me and was really offended. He thought I moved my bag because I thought he’d try and steal from me. How would he know otherwise if he gets that type of reaction so often? I felt so bad and tried to explain that that wasn’t the case. He wasn’t buying it so I stopped trying to explain myself. There was no point. He wasn’t in the frame of mind to believe that I could be different.
This and other experiences that I have had or witnessed made me write this poem.
Is this why we create different rules in our heads?
Like short cuts that we remember & use on the computer.
To reduce effort,
Is this how stereotypes are created?
Is it easier to remember that all Muslims hate Hindus or is it easier to remember that some Muslims hate Hindus but others do not?
Is it easier to think that all black people steal or that we have criminals from all different races, backgrounds, cultures and faiths?
Is it easier to think that all Jewish people are money minded or is it easier to think that only some are, just like those in all cultures and races?
Is keeping an open mind harder because we need to be more flexible?
Is it harder because it makes us more vulnerable?
What if we are wrong?
Better to discriminate against a whole race of people, than to take a risk and be wrong? Right?
What about the consequences?
What about what we lose out on?
What about the special people who do not enter our lives as a result?
What about the people we hurt by treating them as such, when they do not fit into that stereotype we hold?
What about the rumours that we spread by sharing our blinkered, narrow minded, exaggerated, false opinions with others?
What about the people that we persecute as a result, such as, the many black people imprisoned as a result of biases held by law enforcers, judges, solicitors or people like you and me who make up a jury!
What about the fact that we helped uphold this reality through our narrow mindedness in believing that it was true?
A prison full of black people does not mean that they are all guilty,
A prison full of black people does not mean that they are a/the criminal race,
A prison full of black people could mean that they are persecuted,
A prison full of black people could mean that they are hunted and sought out so others get away with it,
A prison full of black people could mean that they are used, by politicians, law enforcers and others in power, as scapegoats,
A prison full of black people could mean that they are used by the powerful to keep the status quo as it is,
A prison full of black people could mean that they are blamed and set up for the crimes of others,
A prison full of black people could mean that they have been forced into situations leaving them no other choice,
Still think that all Jewish people are money minded and that all Muslims hate Hindus and vice versa?
Is this how inaccurate memories are created?
Is this how history is (re) written inaccurately?
Is this how stories are remembered? After being changed?
Is this how we hide from ourselves?
Is this how we cope with things that our race has done?
Is this how we cope with things that our families have done?
Is this how we cope with things that our friends have done?
Do we blame and focus on others to keep ourselves from dealing with the shame of our own race, friends and family?
Do we justify our/their actions?
Do we lie about the reasons behind their actions when they are ‘our own’?
Do we lie to ourselves?
Do we blame them even though they were the victims?