Sunday, 13 December 2020

Back to the Future - Racial Equality and Education

I was privileged enough to have been educated at an International School in Switzerland. From the age of 7 I was raised in a culturally diverse environment. I consider myself extremely lucky and grateful to my parents for having that wonderful opportunity. It is a privilege that I have cherished ever since. 

This upbringing not only shaped my view of the world around me and laid the groundwork for my perception of our multicultural society, it also opened my eyes to the changing world and the way we all behave within it. 

The recent social upheaval related to racially unjust brutality in the United States brought me back real quick to my experiences as a young boy at the International School of Basel. Because even in that wonderfully diverse and inclusive environment there still existed a degree of racism. I witnessed it first hand as we headed towards basketball practice. Kobe Bryant, my teammate one grade above me asked for a sip of Coca Cola from one of his fellow American classmates, to which the response came, "sure, just don't n***er-lip it". Kobe cooly handed the Coke back, smiled and walked away.  

This was 1993 and we were 13 and 14 years old. It shocked me at the time that something like this could happen at my School. An international school that always felt like a big happy family. It opened my eyes to the fact that some of the children at my school had a particularly backward view of the world that must have been installed by their parents. 

Looking back on it now I can't say with any sort of confidence that anything was done about it. I sincerely hope something was done about it because I loved that school and always held it in very high regard. However what it proves to me is that even in the most diverse and accepting parts of society you will still have rotten apples. I don't think that will ever change unfortunately. It's what the rest of society does in situations like that to ostracise such behaviour and educate those people.

Whether we can completely eliminate racist behaviour is doubtful but we can certainly do a better job of eliminating it where possible and teaching our children about racial equality.

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