Monday, 5 March 2012

Multiculturalism and the UK

I feel like this is something I need to address considering how popular this topic has been on Channel 4 recently. It is clear that we are a multicultural country yet racism and prejudice is still rife. The degree of segregation and integration is highly controversial and debatable. However, in the 21st Century this sort of behaviour should have been eradicated years ago. However it is clear we still have a long fight ahead of us.

I have an African mother and Irish father yet I was born and grew up in England, along with my younger brother. How I identify myself hasn't changed from the moment I was born. On forms I consider myself Mixed African-Irish and I am proud of my heritage. However, I am incredibly integrated in the British way of life and I never deny being classed as British because I was brought up in this country and I have active involvement in my community. My family have been very lucky that we have never had an issue of feeling segregated from the wider community and I have a wide variety of friends from different cultures and creeds which has left me with a great tolerance and interest in them. I have often referred to myself as the United Nations! I have fallen victim to racism in the past by uneducated young boys at school however, I am proud of my colouring and my heritage and I have never let it affect my confidence or self worth. I was brought up to be a strong individual who will fight for my right to be equal in every element of my life. It has played a great part in my choice to read law at university and has let me embrace my right to be heard (just don't get me in a political debate because I won't back down and it'll be a looong day for all involved!).

However, there are some individuals who don't share my pride or confidence, as well as individuals who feel they have the right to make others feel inadequate in comparison. Clearly the latter are wrong in doing this, however they do have a right to voice their opinion, even if I don't agree with it. Personally I believe anyone who treats another in a derogatory manner because of their race or religion should be treated with the utter contempt they deserve. If you don't agree, ask yourself whether you would appreciate being treated like that? How would you feel if someone spat on you as you walked passed them purely because of the way you look? You wouldn't take that sort of disrespect would you? So why show that to any other human being?    

To define what is 'British' has been under much debate for years so until the day comes that we have a universally agreed upon definition, noone has the right to declare another not British. As long as they contribute to society just as much as everyone else, they are well within their rights to refer to themselves as British.


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