Has the world truly changed to be free of preconceptions? Moreover, can we ever be completely free of prejudice? We often hear about how much the world has changed, how stereotypes and derogatory biases have slowly but surely been eliminated, and how the world’s crises are not as significant anymore. But is this actually true? In fact, this willful ignorance is possibly the reason why our generation is called the ‘bubble wrap’ generation. We are too desensitised to the harsh world to acknowledge truths right in front of our eyes.
Are we protecting ourselves from sad realities? Or sugar coating significant problems? This has quite frankly become our way of wholesomely viewing the world and has come to the extent where we don’t acknowledge the prejudice still prevalent in our world. Prominent controversial issues still exist in our modern-day society. Racism, gender stereotypes, and minority groups are still real-world problems. Isn’t it time we stopped living in our idealistic world and faced reality? Listening to stories of speakers at the 2019 Grade Nine Writer’s Fortnight Event showed us some of the absurd myths associated with racism and ex-convicts that plague us to this day.
Racism Beyond What We See
Racism. Perhaps in our small groups, we feel that it has vanished as it does not directly impact us. Being from UWC, we often feel that it is not noticeable in modern society. Our communities are generally filled with individuals that are not explicitly racist. However, it clearly exists in our world. At the Writer’s Fortnight Event, Cathy Jones (Vice Principal of High School) gave us an insight of what her life was like living in Apartheid and her personal views on the impact Apartheid had on South Africa. When asked if she believes racism still exists in South Africa, she responded that “The legacy of separateness is still there, and the view of others’ is still prevalent.” Further stating this rhetoric is still seen in profound figures of the South African government as “the difference is usually couched in words related to race rather than different perspectives or ideas.” Though Apartheid ended several decades ago, the racist views held by citizens will stay as a legacy and continue to negatively affect people’s lives. This clearly isn’t just a problem in South Africa and is applicable globally. For example, “In the US, 64% of Americans still say racism remains a major problem.”(Arenge, Perry, and Clark) Although we may not be able to clearly see racism, there is no doubt that it still exists behind closed doors, and sometimes even out in the open.
Disapproval of LGBTQ+ Communities
Aside from racism, segregation of LGBTQ+ is also an important issue. The acceptance of LGBTQ+ has definitely increased over the last century and even decades. We have made continuous progress in the acceptance of those who have different gender identities or sexual orientations. However, can we call our communities truly welcoming? Have we really created a society where LGBTQ+ communities can feel accepted wholeheartedly? Needless to say, the statistics prove that there is still work to be done, especially in Singapore Society. Section 377A of the Penal code in Singapore actually criminalizes consensual sex between two men. On top of this “A little more than half of the people in Singapore — or 55% — still, support it.” (Gillaine) Clearly, even with advances to acceptance for LGBTQ+, we can’t truly call ourselves ‘accepting’ if more than half of the Singaporean community believe that a law that prevents gender expression should be supported. Though we may believe that our progress has translated to true integration and changes to our world; fixed mindsets of the past still remain.
A Second Chance For Ex-Convicts?
Can an ex-convict truly change? This is a controversial and difficult topic, especially with arguments of capital punishment being very much prominent. With regards to this, even the most ‘accepting people’ can’t usually allow another chance to one that made a serious mistake. This was proven to us by listening to Chris Huntington and Martin Suarez (English and Science Teachers at UWC) that gave a talk on working at prisons in the Writer’s Fortnight Event. Mr Huntington said that “there is no kindness and no love around them (convicts)” and that they are viewed in such a light that with one mistake, they will never change. However, is this truly the case? Experiences shared from both speakers show otherwise. Gaby (who was one of the prisoners Mr Suarez taught) had come from a poor background before committing his crimes. Because of his dark past in violence, he was involved in drugs and gang violence which led to a sentence of 25 years. However, even with this background he still had strength, loyalty, free spirit, and resilience to continue trying. He always used to say, “Past was destined. The present is inevitable, future is up to me.” Just because he made a mistake does not necessarily mean he is a criminal for life. Should one mistake really define them? Is this really the right way to view individuals? After all, haven’t we all made mistakes that we’ve regretted? Though it may not have been as extreme, I believe we would have wished that people gave us a second chance to show who we truly are.
Our Future Prejudice-Free?
There are several ways of viewing the world’s crisis, we can either shield our eyes to it and believe we have created our utopia, or we can continue to work towards justice for all. We should continue trying for a prejudiced free society because when we stop trying, we lose hope for a better tomorrow. I hope, as a grade nine student, that 20 years from now, we can live in a world where people can be accepted for who they are and be free from the fear of prejudice. Even if we may never truly get there, our progression is worth more than we know.
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Ng, Gilaine. “55 Per Cent of Singapore Residents Still Support Gay Law: Poll.” The Straits Times, 10 Sept. 2018, www.straitstimes.com/singapore/55-of-spore-residents-still-support-gay-law-poll.
“Poll: 64 Percent of Americans Say Racism Remains a Major Problem.” NBCNews.com, NBCUniversal News Group, www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/poll-64-percent-americans-say-racism-remains-major-problem-n877536.