Has everyone heard the expression “children should be seen and not heard” ?
There are a lot of “old-school” pre-conceived notions about how certain people, whether it be children, women, people of colour, and so on, should act and behave or a misguided notion of how they are in society and life and generally as a society we grew up hearing them and having them instilled in to us:
“Children should be seen and not heard.”
“A woman’s place is in the kitchen.”
“You can’t do that, because you’re a girl.”
“Marriage is between a man and a woman”
“Black people are lazy/stupid/angry/<insert random negative word here>.”
Society as we currently know it was designed by a bunch of old white guys who created not just the laws that govern us and the financial systems that control us, but also the “expectations” society has placed on us, depending on our age, race, gender, sexuality, and socio-economic status. These “expectations” aren’t real or valid or based on fact at all, they’re just what the old white guys decided back then would be the right thing for society to learn and the majority of society grew up having that hammered into us as we grew up. Because it gave them power and wealth.
So a little about me – I grew up in what I now recognize as an extremely privileged, right-wing household. We weren’t affluent, but we were comfortable. My father was a senior officer in the NSW Police Force. Racism in our household wasn’t hate-filled, it was the more casual racism that is in some ways a bigger problem in society.
I grew up being told that children should be seen and not heard. I remember being told that I would be disowned if I ever became gay or voted for the Labor Party. I grew up having all the false, old-white-guy expectations of society drilled into me.
The good news is I think I turned out okay. I rallied for LGBTQ+ rights when the same-sex marriage issue was on the table here in Australia, I am vehemently anti-racist now in my viewpoint. I do all the cooking in our house. I grew up challenging societal expectations, travelled the world, immersed myself in different cultures, and I learned what the world is truly like. I keep trying to learn every day. People ask me all the time why I write the rants I write and try to change the world. Because the world needs changing.
We’re at a crossroads in history. We’re at a point in the human race where not just one of these expectations are being challenged, but all of them are at once. For those who think the fight is just against racism, let me tell you, that’s just one battle in the ongoing war for a better world.
It used to be that you could hold a variety of opinions across the whole spectrum of political, religious, societal spectrum. You could believe that racism is bad, and at the same time be a Christian and be anti-abortion, but believe in free/public healthcare, a cleaner environment, but government spending needed to be slowed down. The world has changed. The right-wing has moved further to the right, and in doing so, people who would never have dreamed of siding with white supremacists are now excusing their behaviour because they agree on abortion rights (that is, they both feel a woman doesn’t have the right to choose.)
The world is getting crazier and crazier and battle lines are being drawn. This isn’t just a fight about race, or gay rights – this is a war between an idea a bunch of old white guys had hundreds of years ago, and where society needs to move to. These old white guys … they’re still around. They own the banks, and the insurance companies, and the mining companies, and the media conglomerates, and so on.
Why was President Obama hated so much by the right-wing? Two reasons. Politically it was because of the Affordable Care Act. The old white guys made an entire industry in the USA that stood between patients and medical care. The health insurance industry is where something like 70%-80% of the cost of health care in America flows to (wages, operating costs, profits) while the medical practitioners and the hospitals are still trying to find money in their budget for essential supplies and equipment. Socially, it’s because he was black. Well, not just because he was black, but that he was black, without being lazy or stupid. He was an intelligent, educated, eloquent, reasoned and inspirational black man. He acvhieved the Presidency and showed other people of colour that they could too and the old white guys just didn’t like it. It didn’t fit with the society they had created.
I’d like to remind everyone that several months ago, a 16 year old kid in Sweden decided to stand up for the environment. This 16 year old girl was vilified, threatened, mocked, abused and has been the subject of some of the most horrific posts I’ve ever read on the internet. Why? Because she challenged societal expectations. The old white guys own the mining companies and they don’t want energy to shift from their power to that of new companies developing cleaner technologies. Also, children should be seen and not heard.
So all of these problems in society, that were essentially created by old-white-guys – racism, healthcare, affordable education, affordable housing, the environment, women’s rights and their bodies… they’re all kept fairly stagnant and maintained by the government, insurance companies, private schools and universities, developers and landowners, mining companies, the church … and every time someone stands up and tries to fight injustice, the old white guys with their media conglomerates create a narrative, create memes, create false news and try to create a bigger divide than already exists. It happened with Obama, it happened with Greta Thunberg, it is happening now with Black Lives Matter.
Their followers might only be casually racist and more so because that is what was instilled in them growing up rather than an actual belief. Their followers might not hate people of colour and don’t understand what is wrong with “All Lives Matter.” They just don’t understand. These are the minds that need changing. They’re seeing memes and Fox News and are being told that all lives matter, and that protesters shouldn’t be destroying property to get their point across, and that Greta Thunberg was a paid actor, and that any time there is a mass shooting it’s a hoax and the victims families are all crisis actors and that Obama was a muslim communist who betrayed America… Unfortunately, it fits with their world-view from growing up with these expectations and so they believe it and they share these stories.
One thing the old white guys have done really well is condition society on what to expect and believe. Children should be seen and not heard. Black people are angry. A woman doesn’t have a choice with her own body.
Our job, everyone’s job should be to demonstrate why those societal expectations are wrong. It sounds cheesy, but I firmly believe “be the change you want to see in the world.” When a racist comments, rather than calling them names or insulting them (which is extremely tempting) we should challenge their viewpoint and act with intelligence and reason.
Why? Because otherwise nothing will change. At the moment, the city of Minneapolis is changing their view and policy on how policing will operate. This is an extraordinary victory for Black Lives Matter and will hopefully change the lives of people of colour in that city for the better. But the internet has gone crazy. The old white guys are feeding the world a narrative of anarchy and an unpoliced city, and people are listening. All the cities in the world can make positive changes but the old white guys are still going to be creating havoc and trying to control the narrative. The world will only change when those of us who know how it can be better, can show people with intelligence and reason, not just anger and disgust.
There are a lot of things in society I’m currently angry and frustrated about … there is injustice everywhere and there are going to be times I write about them here.
There are probably going to be times you agree with what I say, there will be times that you don’t. I am not naïve enough to think I can please everyone, but my hope is that I can treat everyone with respect, regardless of their opinion. I’ve talked about arguing against the ideas, rather than the person. If you think I’m wrong on a topic, then challenge me. I’ll read everything you throw at me (it just might take time) and I’ll discuss every and any topic anytime you want.