ConferenceIs a great world, a world where others don’t accept your presence? Is a great world filled with fear and no freedom? Is a world with unspeakable horrors of police brutality, even a world worth living in? As Martin Luther King once said, “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal” but ever since the break of dawn, man has infiltrated every aspect of their society, and has showed no sign of decreasing their discrimination of one another. For centuries people with a particular biological make up, has seen themselves superior to other groups with a different cultural identity.
It has been so, ever since man started walking the earth; but are we to live in a world, where cultures can’t unite and work side by side? Cultural meetings, where two different cultures congregate, has at no time, ever worked out well; The Egyptians and the Hebrews, the Muslims and the Israeli, and most importantly, the cultural meeting between black and whites. America has had a long history of racial injustice. The blacks were according to the whites weak and vain, and so they became their slaves. They were to work and serve them, for their entire lifetime.
It was a misunderstanding to equate racism with the evil-minded treatment of one individual to another. Racism was more than just personal hatred; it was allowed to subsist because it had been fostered and maintained by institutions and governments. People were forced to believe, in what the government presented and believed. More than 40 years ago, in August 1963, Martin Luther King electrified America with his momentous ‘I Have A Dream’ speech, dramatically delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
His demanding of racial justice and an integrated society became a motto for the black community, and is still familiar to subsequent generations in America. His powerful words became an understanding of what was happening, and what was to be done, in the question of racial injustice. Everyone is equal, and although not the case in America at the time, King felt that it was to be the case for the future. “Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood”.
Ever since Lincoln, King was the first to really stand up, and talk in public about racism, and encourage people to make a change. For the first time, he made people believe that change was possible. The core of the problem was that the two cultures, had had a difficulty in cooperating with one another, and now was the time to do something about it – to make a change that was to last. ”I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed — “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal”.
Freedom, acceptation and racial justice are what it’s all about. In Caryl Phillips autobiographical essay, A New World Order, the contradictory question; where do I belong? Is the main thesis. Caryl Phillips is a black ancestry refugee, who is finding it hard to fit in, and settle down anywhere. He takes us on a lucid transatlantic flight in search of what he might call home. On his first flight visit to sub-Saharan Africa, he writes, “I know instinctively where I am. I recognize the place, I feel at home here, but I don’t belong”.
This illustrates the confusion of where he belongs. He knows his nationality is African, but he doesn’t feel any connection to it. He may enjoy it, and somehow feel familiar with it, but the attachment isn’t there. In New York likewise, he writes, “I should be frightened and disorientated. But I am not. I recognize the place, I feel at home here, but I don’t belong. I am of, and not of this place”. Even though he’s been there before, and he’s got connections there, he still finds it difficult to adapt to the place.
And so he moves on to the Antigua from London, to a kiss outside the school in Leeds, to a cinema where at the end of the screening he listens to “the turgid tones of God save the Queen”, before making his way up the hill to his “home”. He doesn’t belong anywhere, and doesn’t feel any connection to either of the places he visits. He is somewhat homeless, in the sense that he doesn’t know where his rightful place is. Where is he accepted? And where can he live peacefully, without the fear of being judged due to his skin color? Freedom, acceptation and racial justice are what it’s all about.
In John Agard’s “Listen Mr. Oxford Don” the main character appears to be of lower class and a black immigrant. In this poem he uses sarcasm, irony and mockery when talking about the English language and their people. He admits that he is an immigrant, but at the same time, that he is a rebellion. He allege his opinion, “But mogging de Queens English, is the story of my life” and is not afraid to do so. By killing and mocking the language, he puts up a fight with the English, but he is not scared. He appears to be not violent of any kind, and all he wants is acceptation.
He is tired of being treated badly, tired of always being starred at when walking the streets, and tired of being accused for assault, when really it wasn’t his fault. He is the blacks salvation, as he dares to stand up, like Martin Luther King, and not be frightened by any assault there might come. Freedom, acceptation and racial justice are what it’s all about. As a former international student, at Overseas Family School in Singapore, I have personally experienced the meeting of a variety of different cultures, and seen what it can do to you, and how it can influence you.
Coming from Denmark, with a completely different culture than the Singaporeans, it was relatively difficult fitting in. They had their routines, their beliefs and their way of doing things, and no one could make them think otherwise. No one! The discrimination started as early as in the airport, when I could feel that my presence, was for some, out of place and unacceptable. In particularly subjects, the teacher, who various times, wouldn’t pay attention to what I was saying, condemned me. I might not be brutal attacked, nor would I not be free, but the fear of prejudicial treatment was vast.
A Great world is a world where your presence pleases everyone. Where no one feels discriminated by others. Where freedom isn’t c, but instead something naturally and common. No one should be ashamed of who they are, of how they look or what they believe in. Ever since different cultures met with one another, there has always been tension between the different culture identities. This is to end. We are all to be free, to be accepted and most importantly – to be equal. “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last! ” –Martin L. King