*Warning - Contains some insulting and hostile examples of racism
The world is in a state of serious unrest. The abuse being experienced in homes, schools and countries all over the world, the civil wars burning away in the background, the terrorism, bigotry and racism, homophobia and sexism is affecting billions of people. If this is not a World War – violence, fear and abuse that is affecting us globally - then what is?
In the U.K. over the past year we've seen multiple terrorist attacks across the country, carried out by known terrorist groups and suicide bombers, such as the May 2017 attack at Manchester Arena. These attacks have been defined as acts of Islamic Extremism and many are blaming the Islamic religion and people for these crimes. This, mixed with BREXIT, the appointment of Trump as president and everything else in the media, people's opinions of Islam and Muslim people are more public than ever, many being extremely judgemental and offensive towards an unfairly categorised group of people. This has been an enormous step back for respect, equality and our society.
Online abuse is rife and the Internet has yet again provided a catalyst for millions of people to gang up on Islam but also other groups of people periodically, such as those who identify as LGBTQ. This is partly because anything can be posted with a few keyboard clicks and no face-to-face interaction, but also because as it stands there are very poor regulations, laws or standards which hold us accountable online. At the moment, social media is overwhelmingly filled with comments such as:
“who cares? those foreign brown people shouldn’t be here anyway. f*** them.” YouTube
“I’ll welcome to rapefugees when they welcome a pulled pork snack shack in mecca” Twitter
“Good muslim boys, drink, drugs, lying to the police………” YouTube
“You cannot GIVE Freedom to those FERAL MUSLIMS!!” Twitter
“WE WILL NEVER BE SAFE AS LONG AS THIS EVIL ISLAM, REFUGEES, SOMALIANS, SYRIANS, PAKISTANIANS ARE ALL OUT…” Twitter
As young people we spend a lot of our time online, and it's difficult not to engage with and be swayed by our country’s political movements and opinions. However, at the moment both of these platforms – politics and the media – are promoting inequality and abuse towards those of certain religions, skin colours and migrants in general. All politics aside, is ridiculing and hating those who make different choices to us or have a different place of birth really fair? Can you imagine if English people, or ‘whites’ were cast out, beaten up in schools, thrown out of their homes (or had their houses burnt) as a result of a skin colour they couldn't change?
Although we may not be able to vote in referendums or elections, and the government has no significant platform for young people to have a say in policies, the school curriculum and our foreign affairs, this does not mean we are powerless to the devastating racism that is occurring within our society, something that we DO have an opportunity to change.
The important question to ask ourselves, first and foremost is – have we let the actions and behaviours of our country, or the way the media presents not just Islam but all religions and races affect the way we see others? Have we engaged in online torment or changed our mannerism to be colder, more distant or cautious around certain people?
Or, have we developed our OWN relationship to diversity and the world through the interactions we've experienced, knowing that all 7.5 billion of us are unique and different?
More than any other generation, we have taken equality and accepting people's differences/identities to a whole new level, and it's crucial that no matter what voters choose, or how our parents, teachers or the general population choose to treat others it's important we continue to appreciate diversity and keep developing universal respect.
WE are the future government ministers, policy makers, teachers and educators, making up society and determining HOW we treat each other. It’s up to us to decide whether we roll over and join this current movement of racism, arrogance and hate, or stay true to the equality we know is possible.
All of the blogs on From Our Eyes have been written by young people. They are about the kind of issues and problems teenagers face on a constant basis, as well as worldwide epidemics that not only youth, but EVERYONE experiences day to day.