1. Acknowledging That Systemic Racism & Homophobia Exists:
‘Systemic racism’ is defined as the form of racism that is embedded through laws and regulations within a society, social group/s and or an organisation. When left unchecked, identified and removed, it leads to such issues as discrimination, criminal injustice, illegal & unfair employment practices, abuse of power, mis-information in areas such as education & healthcare among other problems for communities, cities and societies. ‘Homophobia’ can be defined as a very strong and extremely irrational aversion to people who are from the LGBTQi+ Community, who identify as gay/bisexual/queer etc.
When these negative traits of society are built into a community and its members, and left unchecked for centuries, that community or society needs to be educated & informed so they are equipped with the ability to change and implement these abilities.
Information on the change and why it is important for a more positive and inclusive community must also be readily available and updated regularly to ensure the community and even wider society remain an evolved and better version of itself as the baton of life is past from generation to generation.
[NB: At this juncture I need to lay in my disclaimer, so all who read this is from my personal experience as a Black Man who happens to be a member of the LGBTQi+ Community, who left one of the larger cities in the United Kingdom, to re-settle in small village in the Scottish Highlands. Did I expect to experience the things I have that have forever changed my life? No. Did I foresee having to fight for my very existence & human rights? No. But here we are, and here I am trying to do right by those that changed me & the 3 or so children of a different ethnic background that share being different in this resplendent piece of Scotland that made Me feel alive again.]
2. Letting the Perpetrators Know You They are Systemic Racist & Homophobic:
One of the first things a practising racist/homophobe does is to give you the individual who is from another ethnic background/a member of the LGBTQi+ community a reason/excuse they think will make you their potential victim think they are not a practising racist/homophobe. So as a black person who happens to be a member of the LGBTQi+ community moving into a smaller more close-knit environment; I was fed lines like ‘I’m not racist or homophobic, I have a black nephew, and I once had a gay friend, so how can I be either of those things?’ or ‘we’ve never had a problem with your kind here’ and even better ‘he’s pulling the black card’. Take note, that and everything else that usually follows is mostly racist/homophobic.
One of the kids for who I am shedding light on this situation to help told me, he was on the school playground and another kid walked up to him and stated with a self- entitled casualness ‘ I just went for a sh*t in the toilet and it was brown, it reminded of you’, the poor kid didn’t know how to feel about it there and then but angry, he/she just went home and cried, as all they could think was, what did they do to deserve being told something so horrible and degrading?
I get that we are not ‘locals’ as many in the Community like to make abundantly clear. We were not born here, and do not carry the brilliant and rich ancestral blood of the area in our veins. But we are here now as positive contributing members of a very aged and dying populace, which for the Village itself to survive, grow and be better, it needs people wanting to be here, to keep it and its traditions alive, but also add to that rich history.
And even though this land knows a tapestry woven into its Gaelic language, Shinty [Def: of which Google states it’s a game played with sticks & a ball, that is now plated mainly by Highland migrants to the big cities of Scotland’]pitches and longstanding clans of McKenzie, McClean & Murray to name a few, as well as the village’s authentic and proud history as weavers of the best quality there is in Tartan, the world over.
My question to those still practising the negative barbaric traits of systemic racism and homophobia is; why in 2021 do you think degrading and discriminating against others is good for our village & its next generation?
Hate breeds hate; is that what you want to pass on to the next generation of kids in the village? Would it not be better for everyone if we utilised the positives of the area and its history and included new chapters filled with cultural exchanges and new ventures that help make & sustain the Village itself?
I lived in the Yorkshire region of Northern England for close to 2 decades, raised a beautiful daughter, while making an incredible mix of friends/business contacts from all walks of life, and their race never mattered. I experienced my own level of tragedies, heart-brakes and poor, like seriously poor life choices. Still my time here in Scotland shines a very bold light on the issues of systemic racism, homophobia, nepotism, egregious employment practices, sexual harassment and sexual assault. All of this in just 2 years, but I love the place and I will not allow the backward and negative thoughts and actions of a few, to chase me from a place where my spirit and soul have found healing.
I am going to make a few simple suggestion below which I hope will act as reference points, tools and helpful ways to:-
- See new individuals wanting to settle into the village welcomed.
- Help kids understand and have basic knowledge about other cultures, cuisines and festivals, that can be celebrated and enjoyed by all.
- Create a knowledge base about at least 15 cultures that as a tourist destination members of our community may encounter/enjoy.
3. Begin The Slow, Pain & Necessary Process of Educating, Informing & Changing Minds:
The very first steps to any kind of positive change is acknowledging that a problem or set of problems exist. I can already see this step being the most difficult for those who perpetrators of systemic racism & homophobic in the village and the surrounding areas to grasp and agree to.
This has to be done as all the other steps that need to be put in place depends on it, as does the next stages of growth and prosperity of the village as a whole. This is then followed by braking some very negative habits/traits that cause individuals of another ethnic background and people who are members of the LGBTQi+ community feel uncomfortable and un-welcomed in the village:
- Stop and promote the end of using racist terms and slangs.
- Think before speaking negative comments, slurs and jokes as not only is that behaviour outdated but insensitive.
- Create more cultural events, so that residents and visitors alike can enjoy, and a better and more positive outlook on people from different cultures can be adapted.
- If there are things you want to know about a particular culture or group, educate yourself, knowledge is power.
- For those using illegal and or outdated employment practices, seek to change that and be a shining example for how employees regardless of race, gender, age, ethnic background, religion or gender identity, should be treated across Scotland. They say a happy workforce always leads to bigger profits and a ‘safe and caring’ work environment.
- Include members of other ethnic backgrounds onto local community boards and committees, so you have an ‘actual’ perspective of other groups. First-hand knowledge and participation helps with inclusion and ensure everyone’s voice is at least heard & acknowledge.
This list in not exhaustive.
4. Do It Because the Next Generation must Have the Tools & Knowledge to Better:
In conclusion I want to say I wrote this piece as I felt the dialogue needed to begin about tackling and eradicating these negative practices in the Village by more than enough people to see their behaviours and attitudes affecting both adults and kids alike from a different ethnic background that reside in the Village.
And while this exists, there are also those individuals who are worthy of note for their very open and honest interactions with people of a different background in the village. They have chosen to see & act beyond racism, homophobia, ageism, nepotism and discrimination, you all know who you are and I commend, because it is people/folk like yourselves that make me love the Village even more.
I also made it my point of asking some of the next generation of locals, what sort of things they would like to change in the village, and the issues above were raised at the forefront of their concerns as to why once they leave for University, they are more inclined to settle elsewhere.
One of the current slogans being floated as we come out of a near two year shut-down across the globe is to rebuild, not only rebuild but ‘build back better’, and I agree with this wholeheartedly. Also a Community with strong Christian values, where has the practice of ‘love thy neighbour’ gone? Does that neighbour have to come from the same ethnic background for this to apply?
That being said, of course I stand with everyone in the Community against those who would come here to destroy it; this is now my home, and I have no interest in seeing it deteriorate into anything less than a safe and brilliant place to live and make wonderful positive memories while leave our mark on the country, the union and the world. END.
About the Creator
Carlton A. Armistad is the pseudonym for Andrew R. Little. I prefer writing under this as it allows me to look at any body of work I complete separate to my personal day-to-existence, and safeguards my relationships and family.