Thursday, September 8, 2016

Prejudice and discrimination.

Straight off the bat you might think I'm going to go off and add to the demonisation of these words... which might in itself, that start, show off my own prejudice within my own expectation of how I might decide you are coming to this post.

I suppose then, in the above instance, I could be illustrating why prejudice and discrimination are problematic and it's therefore easier to just bannerise these poor words without giving them the time and the space they might actually require.

I love prejudice and discrimination! (How's that for an opening? Throw your half empty coffee cup at the screen right now... and leave disgusted!)

noun: prejudice; plural noun: prejudices

preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.

noun: discrimination; plural noun: discriminations
the unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.

recognition and understanding of the difference between one thing and another.

What has brought this up for me is one or two friends I've been talking to over the past few days who shared what for us, in hindsight, was growing up as a minority... except then it might have been a racial minority but now we don't really say such things as that and what we say is cultural minority though that doesn't work either because way back then, living and going to school in South Auckland, we were all part of that culture so even then cultural minority didn't apply unless one really went big and used the appellation in regard to the whole of New Zealand and the comparisons became economic stratifications...

So what it was is that we were white kids within a culture of predominantly darker skinned kids, see how difficult this is? What actual descriptive terms am I allowed to use?

The thing is that, and this comes through with quite a few, but by no means all, these people of Euro descent I now come across from the old days, is that it wasn't at all about measured differences at all and just surviving in what ever way seemed to be the best way to just keep surviving... and having fun.

And while I was talking to one of these old friends I even told a story where I went to Art School and the first month or so I felt uncomfortable and I couldn't figure out why until I eventually realised I hadn't actually spent so much time, day after day, just in the company of white people.

The thing was, I think, that we learned, without thinking about it, that prejudice was required to a certain degree (while at the same time we didn't even know prejudice was even a word) except it had to be held fairly lightly and one had to discriminate very quickly. What that means is that situations and circumstances could change all the time and you had to be fluid, you had to weigh up situations quickly and then live by those decisions... until things changed.

To that extent survival, if things got hot, depended somewhat on not being extreme in ones prejudices whereby one was overly positive or overly negative... that would get you into trouble. And with all that said the colour of ones skin was never more than a surface treatment. Far more important things came up first as instinctive and intuitive decisions had to be made.

Like one day you might be down in Mangere Bridge and at a house where the family were Maori but the father had been in some government job for decades and they lived in a much better house than you did and they introduced you to cheese spread out of a jar bought at the supermarket but then the next day you'd be on the other side of the mountain where the shade cooled out the house for most of the day, and be with another new friend you'd met at cubs, and their house would be run down and full of just washed clothes with a bunch of semi-pulled apart cars littering the section and learning how to shoplift down the local dairy and this boy would have blonder hair than you did.

It was just this big huge melting pot of difference, and yes, there were fairly obvious differences though they simply weren't differences that counted, and you just couldn't be prejudiced but then at the same time you needed to have some prejudice available in case it could be thrown up as a point of difference, a uniqueness to make things interesting. Yes, you did see prejudice, as we now like to call it, except you didn't 'look' at that. You 'looked' for anger and problems and the colour of ones skin had nothing to do with that... though of course it actually did.

Discrimination then became a life line. You needed absolutely to discriminate, to be discriminating. Again it had nothing to do with the colour of ones skin... it was the edges that counted, What was underneath and around the edges? What was the emotional underpinning, what seethed and boiled if anything? Was a smile at a joke hung on difference loaded or authentic?

Because what you did learn fairly quickly was that when situations might get tense it was often that this minority which you were supposedly a part of made you the representative of the majority you weren't actually a part of at all except, by default, simply because of the colour of your skin you became.

So yeah, I've had these few chats with white people who shared the same basic upbringing that I had and we're prejudiced as fuck, certified card carrying members of not even giving the bastards any chance to be anything other than what they obviously are... that surface details don't matter but they give you clues as in what kind of shit might be hidden and under what cloaks... or not.

Do I resent ever being part of what ever supposed minority I might or might not have been a part of given whatever circumstances were in progress that used such definitions to define what might be prejudicial? Fuck no, that'd be stupid and take away some of the fun. 'Cause in the end once you've figured out the possible use of prejudice and discrimination it, they, are a useful set of tools to get one more orientated, aligned as it were, to having fun and being interesting, and that, as far as I can tell, has absolutely nothing to with colour, gender, money or anything fucking stupid like that... while at the same time somehow being all about it. It's then nothing to do with what it is but what you might do with it that counts... in my book anyway.

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