This subject was always going to be a minefield for me and I often thought of abandoning the idea of touching on this subject. After all, in “He Was Weird,” this is one aspect of bullying that Mark doesn’t experience. In fact, his only experience of other races is very positive. It occurs during the one chapter where everything goes right for him and in that chapter he meets three African American boys his own age and becomes friends with them and since the main objective of this blog is to try to sell more copies of “He Was Weird,” I could very easily leave it out. However, there are experiences in my own life that I have spent years trying to make sense of that compels me to talk about it. But you have to wait for the next post to read about those.
One of the reasons why I fear to post about the topic of interracial bullying is down to the combination of where I came from and where I live now. Back in the very beginning of the century, okay the year 2000, when working as a supply teacher, it seemed that at many of the schools I worked at, there was a British teacher who was convinced that the vast majority of white Americans were racist. Unfortunately, I have to concede that many are but not the vast majority, although there are many white Americans who don’t think they are but their words and actions dictate otherwise. On the flip side, there are Americans and quite a few British people who think that most people in the UK see race issues through rose coloured glasses. This is could very well be true of those on the left of the political spectrum but for the most part, the view is inaccurate. I, myself, if I took the words of one British lad to heart, I could apply the stereotype about Americans to British people. I met this lad back in the 80s and he stated that the apartheid regime of South Africa and the pre- civil war American South was justified because all blacks rely on welfare.
Like many things racism has evolved, especially in the US. Only the most ignorant white supremacists say that other races should work as slaves or ride the back of the bus. These days, many white racists see themselves as the victim. They identify any real or perceived act of non-white racism towards whites and use that to say that the other guy started it, especially if the specific incident wasn’t dealt with properly. The belief here is that had the situation been reverse, and the non-white person was the victim, every race relations group would be in there making sure justice was done.
Now before I go any further, I know that racism isn’t just a black and white issue. I have read about the animosity and bloodshed between other non-white races, especially in inner city areas. In Britain, there are tensions between Indians and Pakistanis, Hindus and Sikhs and there are many more examples. All of it has to be addressed as racism and needs to be addressed every bit as the traditional black and white racism.
Racism is also a very big tool in bullying. When five people of one race gang up on one person of another, it is both bullying and racism. However, it is more subtle as well. One example was back in June 1980, when I was in a redneck town in the US. That night, young white men were dancing in the streets celebrating Panamanian boxer Roberto Duran’s victory over Sugar Ray Leonard. The reason was that the black guy lost, although more derogatory words were used against Leonard. One of these redneck boys justified it by stating that blacks brag about how they rule boxing so it was good to see one of them lose. Didn’t really justify it to me but I can see what he meant on a small scale. My point here is that there seems to be this ongoing battle between all races to see who’s the better. Any small victory seen by one race is immediately lorded over the other to say, “See, we’re better.” That to me, is where the main problem of interracial bullying lies. Why can’t we see each other as people? I’m not saying that we should ignore our heritage or roots, it’s part of who we are but there doesn’t need to be this competition and point scoring. Furthermore, when someone of another race makes a mistake, there is a tendency to go straight for the jugular with the race of that person insulted as well. There is no need for this or the need to take offense at the slightest perceived injustice and blow it all out of proportion. All bullying needs to be stomped out, especially bullying between the races.
More of this will be looked at in a future post but before I do, it is best that I examine and talk about my own experiences in this area. Sorry if I left you hanging here but I don’t like to go into too long of a post.
To buy He Was Weird, go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402395003&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird