Racism in Britain and Latvia
Racism is prejudice or discrimination based on the belief that race is primary factor determining human traits and abilities. It involves a generalized lack of knowledge or experience as it applies to negative attitudes, beliefs and stereotypes. Racism takes many different forms, which can include: personal attacks of any kind, including violence even leading to murder, verbal or written insults or threats and damage to property. Unfortunately racism can exist in all races and cultures, but in my opinion no one is born racist, because racism is a learned phenomenon, via family, education, religion, the law, and the media. For example, if a child grows up within a racist family he may believe that racism is normal and acceptable.
In this paper I will try to compare the problems and topicality of racism in Great Britain and Latvia. And I hope that after writing this paper I will have much deeper conception of what racism exactly is and how it affects the community.
RACISM IN BRITAIN AND LATVIA
There are a lot of views on racism in Britain and Latvia. Some of those maintain that racism exists and should be fought against, but others that racism does not exist. Why there is such a big difference in opinions on racism? In my point of view there shouldn’t be so opposed views in this field- whether it exists or not.
Terry Tan is one of those who maintain that racism in Britain does not exist. At the same time he admits that there are some problems that are based on isolating strangers, but he believes that the reason isn’t racism, it is just that “...most English are slow to warm up to strangers, whatever their ethnic origin”.(1) But other source maintains that British racism is 400 years old (since Elizabeth I innings) and nowadays it is systematic discrimination against people of colour. “For example, in mid-2001, 5% whites were unemployed vs 12% blacks. For Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, it was 18%. Black children are more likely excluded from school than white. The police in every part of Britain are more likely to pick on blacks than whites. Blacks are more likely to be sent to prison than whites for the same offence.”(2) Everybody has heard or seen in some movies that a long time ago when slavery existed racism was on its bloom for millennia. Slavery was a direct feature of the dehumanisation. `Even in 1960’s racism was widely common, but in a different way. There were pubs in Britain which had notices like “No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs!”`(3) So there was a time when people were directly equalled to animals. “Things have changed considerably since then, of course. For a start, it is illegal to discriminate on racial grounds. And there is now a generation of British-born black and Asian citizens that has- at least in theory- the same rights and opportunities as any other British citizen, irrespective of race, colour or creed.”(4)
The main reason why racism exists nowadays is the enrooted opinion that, for example, if one Swede is closefisted then obligatory all nation is considered to be closefisted. Moreover as it is in Latvia where most of the population is whites it is just normal that those few blacks are accompanied with staring. And we look at them not because we don’t like them, but they seem interesting to us because in everyday life we see mostly whites. Our looking, in most of the cases, should not be considered as some kind of racism disclosure. Imagine what happens to the Latvian maiden when she goes to, for example, Arab countries, the same thing- everybody’s staring at her. But does she consider it as racism? No, because it is just normal that local people manifests interest towards something unusual. At the same time, as I already said in the introduction, racism can exist in all races and cultures. But is it fair to call all nation racist because of few people? Racism in Latvia exists, but in some way it is hidden because it isn’t advertised as much as it is in other European countries. Besides as there are only few blacks in Latvia it is hard to evaluate the racism (based on the colour of the skin) level in Latvia. The research of the Baltic data house in the year 1998 showed that 11% Latvians would gladly prohibit black people coming to Latvia. Concerning the racism based on the ethnic minorities there are some Latvians who thinks that non-Latvians (mainly regarding to Russians) are worse than Latvians and the other way round. `Television, radio and block media continues spreading negative stereotypes in the ethnic matters, for example, they claim that Latvians want to evict Russians from Latvia, because they are occupants, but if they want to stay in Latvia they must learn Latvian language.`(5) In my opinion, the reason why we want Russians to learn our language is to make the communication between both nations easier, and as they live in our country, they have to learn the language. It shouldn’t be percipient as racial feature against the Russians.
Maybe by treating minorities as something lower than us makes people feel safe? `Latvia is the only country in the Europe from the 300 ones which have the population over one million, and the population of the native inhabitants in the beginning of the 20th century less than non-native. It is only plain that some kind of reaction of defence develops.`(6) Sometimes I’m surprised of how cruel people can be, especially youth. `Once there was an unpleasant situation in the public transport when youths promised the death of the elderly conductor’s grandchildren in the Siberia just because she spoke Latvian in Latvia. And when she bravely replied whether the young men want to go back to the place where they won’t be forced to hear Latvian language, from the other passengers resounded offences of fascism.`(7) Where is the truth? How it is possible that we are being treated as minorities in our own country? Knowing that something like this happens makes me angry, in these situations I want to scream. Not those youths were guilty, but their parents who had thought them to be as they are today.…
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Racism in Britain and Latvia