Provoking a Reaction or Not

Ever write something that you thought would provoke a response but it did not? Ever write something that was intended to be throw-away and it got the more attention than anything else you had published? I am sure that I am not alone in being able to answer yes to both questions.

Last month I wrote a piece asking why we do not have a campaign that targets prejudice universally rather than the many different instances that it gives rise to I was actually expecting to get a few comments on this one but it received nothing. Not so much as a like. I put it out on Facebook as well, but it fared no better. It did get one retweet and a comment on Twitter, however.

I like to reflect on things rather than respond immediately. I have found that I often miss things or fail to respond with clarity if I am too hasty. During my period of reflection I did wonder why, when something like Black Lives Matter (BLM) has apparently captured the public imagination, the idea of opposing prejudice in the manner suggested provoked such a lukewarm response. I can think of various reasons. In some respects the fight against racism has become fashionably acceptable. I have spoken to several people who are surprisingly ignorant of the Civil Rights Movement’s history, but support the BLM campaign. They have seen something that has captured their attention, no bad thing, and decided to wear the t-shirt. They have not educated themselves any further, however.

Racism is a problem. Sexism is a problem. Ageism is a problem. The long history of the treatment of the disabled is a problem. They are all social problems that have one cause in common; prejudice. All of these problems, along with sentiments opposed to homosexuals, different religions, gender orientation, continue to exist no matter how many campaigns have been fought to rid society of their evil. Some have been more socially attractive to support than others. Today we have Pride parades in support of gay rights and the gay community. Professional athletes take a knee on television in support of BLM. And that is where it appears to stop. Other forms of discrimination are not so well opposed but they create victims all the same.

It is not my intent to create a hierarchy of suffering, such a thing is illogical when calling for a universal campaign opposed to prejudice in all its forms. Everyone who suffers from prejudice is a victim and they do not have to have their experience validated by others. It may well be, however, that a universal approach to this problem risks robbing some groups of a perceived status as special. It may also mean potential supporters having to accept certain groups that they are not actually comfortable associating with. Some groups are definitely more photogenic that others as well. Are those shallow observations? Yes, but only in the sense that they are indicative of shallow behaviours.

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