There is something so strange going on you’d be forgiven for suspecting the existence of a parallel universe. In America, biracial families are a huge and increasing percentage of the populous but killing and/or abusing people because they are different seems endemic.
Here in the UK, mixed-race is the fastest growing ‘ethnic minority’. However, if you took an educated guess at the reasons for the recent referendum result, you’d conclude that it swung on social division and distrust of humans who are unlike us – whoever ‘us’ is (oh and lies, hysteria, ignorance and bigotry).
There are only two choices in life and we keep making the wrong one.
Humanity or Holocaust
Reconciliation or Rwanda
Simple human decency or Syria
Kindness or the Killing Fields of Cambodia
Intelligent interaction or Iraq
Benevolence or Bosnia
Building bridges or building walls
And if you are lucky enough to be living somewhere without the constant screech of missiles overhead or the fear of your family dying beneath the rubble of your home, think carefully. Had you asked ordinary Rwandans, immediately before the genocide, if they’d be butchering their neighbours in the morning they’d probably have laughed at you. If you had spoken to ordinary Germans pre 1939, they’d have been horrified at the idea they’d turn a blind eye to their Jewish neighbours being dragged off in the night.
Syrians had normal lives prior to the events labelled the ‘Arab Spring’ - 2011. They went about attending school, going to functioning hospitals, walking in parks, riding buses to their jobs. How could they know they’d be living in bloody hell for half a decade (thus far).
Here in the UK, albeit on a less dramatic scale, we seem, like elsewhere in the world to be retreating into factions and fractious sub groups. The Labour party – the so-called opposition - has spent months infighting when it should have been standing up for ordinary people. Plus, they failed spectacularly to energetically support remaining in the EU so that Europe would stand a chance of facing the world’s real problems. Instead we’re faced with petty nonsense and years of uncertainty and procrastination. And after all the misery and infighting they still managed to keep just another identikit white bloke leading the party…
Post referendum, xenophobic vitriol has stirred up tension and meanness and some have already paid the price. On a minor scale I too experienced some post- Brexit verbal racism and unpleasantness in the days following the vote.
Recently our un-elected Prime Minister (probably to divert attention from Brexit) suddenly announced that she wants more selection in education – a more divisive system than we have now. The one we have is already more socially divisive than most of continental Europe.
Everywhere, it seems, folk are scrambling to be with others ‘like themselves’ and to exclude their fellow humans. Why?
You know we all eat, shit and die. We all fail if we are not loved. We all bleed if we are cut.
But humans are very strange creatures indeed. Fortunately. In the face of bigotry, hatred, vile acts of terror and atrocities, some humans are being really weird… Yes - in this world of division, sectarianism, racism and brutality - a lot of people are falling in love and making babies with people who are different to themselves.
When my parents had me, over half a century ago, a mixed-race family was rare here. Now it’s not.
My youngest daughter goes to a school with a wonderfully culturally and ethnically mixed intake (it is a Catholic school though we are not). My daughter’s fellow pupils are Scottish and Polish and Spanish and African and Caribbean and all other sorts. Sadly, I know many parents would and do go out of their way to ensure their children only go to schools with other children ‘like them’. Maybe it is because I am mixed race but I immediately saw this variety as a huge positive. School is not just about educating children academically it is about giving them life skills and experiences. What more important life lesson could anyone have than to understand that someone else – albeit a different colour to you or ethnic or cultural background – can still be your friend. If I had my way I would make it illegal to divide children in school based on parental snobbery or prejudice.
Our capacity for causing our fellow human beings to suffer seems limitless. The conflict and bloodshed, murder, rape kidnapping and mayhem that (please God) may be coming to an end in Colombia, has gone on for over half a century.
Perhaps attending truly mixed schools could mean that, when those children are grown, the one thing they won’t do is violate another human being just because they are different.
Ella & the Knot Fairies is a tale of mixed race magic for young children. After spending years in piles of papers, it was posted as an online story attracting over 200,000 views in a couple of weeks.
Woven from magic, maternal love, daughters and hair, Ella & the Knot Fairies is a whimsical, fun, picture story in verse.
Do please buy a copy – either a real book or an e-book. Supporting my writing through buying any of my books also helps me keep this free blog going.