On Wednesday evening I took part in a rather interesting discussion on Twitter. It was interesting both because of the original topic and the way I managed to widen it a bit without causing anyone too many headaches.
The topic was loosely “Diversity” – as in the Police and their attempts to recruit and retain more people from the BAME communities.
I have to admit that I hate the current scene of each section of what you might call the marginalised communities (BAME, Disabled, Poor Mental Health, LBGTQ, etc) all apparently fighting among themselves to get the most recognition for their cause. The way I see it is as follows –
Every single section of the marginalised communities deserves the same rights as the rest of the population. This means that they should all work together to achieve that. However, the way I can see it going currently is not going to help anyone. Mainly due to infighting – either about who is the worst off as far as actual physical representation is concerned, or about what should legally be done to ensure that all the different groups are respected and equally heard.
Another thing which I find extremely annoying is the fact that I have to be very careful what I say in certain situations because – whilst my sight problem qualifies me as covered by the Equalities Act it can also leave me open to an accusation of being in contravention of either the Racial Discrimination Act or any kind of Religious Discrimination Act. (This is in particular connection with Muslim ladies who insist on covering themselves head to foot in black with a niqab – rendering themselves both dangerous and invisible to me in certain situations.). Of course, I respect your right to hold your own religious beliefs. I do not immediately associate Islam with terrorism. I just wish that some Muslim ladies would wear something colourful over their black outfit which would actually make it easier for me to see them (and distinguish them from street furniture, walls, etc).
We really need a proper debate about the different strands of what I like to call “Quirkies” and their (sorry – our) needs as far as recognition and representation are concerned. I don’t just mean on Twitter either. I mean we need to have such a discussion face to face in person. We all face discrimination and underrepresentation in one way or another. The best way to sort this out would be for everyone to recognise each other’s worth and the fact we all have valid opinions and expertise. Apart from that – everyone (Quirkies and “normal” people) needs to learn from each other’s experience and act on what they learn.
To be honest I don’t actually hold out much hope of a simple solution which would benefit everyone concerned – simply because of the somewhat entrenched positions some groups appear to have adopted.
I want to leave you with a thought. A few years ago there was an episode of “EastEnders” which had an all black cast (no other race appeared in that one episode). There was a bit of a fuss about it but it soon blew over.
However, I have yet to see anyone on any TV programme with my kind of sight problems. The more contact we have with different cultures, abilities, etc, either in real life or through any kind of media (be it Social Media or Mainstream Media) the less alone people like me will feel – and it will give us the confidence to speak out and fight for our recognition.