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Prejudice springs from ignorance

Before coming to Australia, I lived for just over 10 years in Gravesend, Kent – directly across the Thames from the Tilbury docks.

This was a time when anyone born in the British Commonwealth, was entitled to a British passport, and Tilbury was the destination for hundreds of Indian and Pakistani migrants.

It is still standard practice in both these countries, for marriages to be arranged by the families. I was briefly acquainted with a young woman from the Punjab, who had been sent to Gravesend to marry a man whose wife had died, leaving him with one or two small children needing a mother.

We had no common language, but I did establish that she was in hospital over a threatened miscarriage.

It was quite normal in Gravesend for schoolchildren to shop with their mothers to act as translators, since the women lived fairly secluded lives, socialising only with family and other women. It took a few generations for the women to become fluent in English and adapt to their new environment.

There was a degree of mild discrimination in the local ‘white’ community, but it was never intense. It often related to different food practices, as some of the possibly over-sensitive objected to the smells of the spices used in the preferred foods of the migrants.

Those migrants who worked hard and were able to buy a house, generally decorated the house in the distinctively bold colours that were also used in their clothing. More conventional members of the local community rarely even used bold colours for the external doors, let alone on the brickwork! These houses were mostly semi-detached, 2-storey houses, with small front and larger back gardens.

Some existing residents, fearing their properties might be de-valued, sold out and moved elsewhere, until one street was locally dubbed the Khyber Pass!

I was never aware of any real hostility, but when the migrant families form what is virtually a ghetto, and the women do not speak English well enough to socialise outside the migrant community, it can be hard to bridge the gap, and even harder for the ethnic community to keep up to date with official information.

There would be similar situations in Australia. Just as some older Australians lack internet skills and often fail to receive information from governments – which now rely heavily on the assumption that everyone can be contacted electronically – so too there will be pockets of migrant groups which require particularly close attention in a situation like the current pandemic.

I get the feeling that Daniel Andrews is falling over backwards to avoid any remarks  about the cluster of COVID-19 infections currently causing concern, where prejudice about the communities involved might be the outcome.

I have a friend, who is only a smidgen younger than I am, but whose aversion for most forms of technology means that I have to make sure she knows when notices to members of the bridge club where we both play have gone out!

I do not know to what extent governments use ethnic community groups to help ensure that those for whom English is not a first language receive accurate information about matters of community concern. I hope they do so to a meaningful extent.

To ensure that both the facts and the gravity of the situation are fully disseminated among all communities is a matter of real concern for us all.

Last night’s Four Corners exposé of the Newmarch Nursing Home debacle was a clear reminder of the dire consequences of failing to ensure that plans and communications which affect life and death have to be well thought through and delivered.

I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:

“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government.”

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16 comments

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  1. Matters Not

    Re the title:

    Prejudice springs from ignorance

    While true enough, perhaps it’s more complicated than first appears.. Take female genital mutilation as an example. (There’s many others,) Would there be less or more ‘prejudice’ if the average person understood that it’s a cultural practice going back well before religious influences? Would the removal of that ‘ignorance’ lead to its ending by (currently) the willing participants? Or would greater understanding lead to a lessening of ‘prejudice’ by outside observers?

    Or should we entertain the thought that ‘knowledge’ might (and perhaps should) lead to greater ‘prejudice’ – broadly defined? While I personally favour the ending of ignorance (in all its forms), it’s not without a downside. Lots to consider – the deeper one looks. Ignorance might be a welcome bliss for many. Including those who decry same.

  2. wam

    Prejudice spring from observation and education.
    Taking MN’s point any clever men know whistle cock a serious impediment but removing the clitoris is less painfull. for men.. and may have a better effect on birth control/.
    When religion kicked in the point became enjoyment men are ‘oncers’ women are ‘multiplyers s cut out the enjoyers

  3. RosemaryJ36

    Wam – do you even know what the clitoris is? I assume you are referring to the foreskin which serves a completely different function from the clitoris.

  4. Phil

    Oh dear the conversation is getting a bit spicy. Clitoris! WTF! That shouldn’t worry some of the men on here, some of them wouldn’t get a root in a wood yard. Their next sexual encounter may well be their second, having given up all hope on the first one. Sorry this was a gift for me. 🙂

  5. wam

    sorry rosemary,
    I forgot Maths teachers are often challenged by english.

    I am too obtuse for your liking and my words too obscure but they were to MN’s point.

    As you will be aware men make the rules and clever men know the power of the clitoris. Its removal curtails the pleasure for women without interference with the function or pleasure for men.
    Who knows perhaps the practice was a reaction to lesbian sex?

    Your jibe is oft applied to christian men and women. Posing the question if christianity knew its function would the nuns and priests be cutting young girls??

  6. Joe Carli

    Here, Phil / wam…I knoe youse like a bit of the old potrey…you might have some identifying sympathy with this lament..

    Diedre.

    She was older, hair as red as an autumn sunset,
    With beauty would turn men’s eyes to adule’ ,
    And I was a young and impetuous fool,
    Laughter was my first love, with a youth’s frivolity,
    Hers was one silent, sincere and true.
    I joked of our relationship, I wasn’t ready for wife,
    I wanted the freedom of the world..a voracious hunger for life!
    Now, every woman harbours secrets, hers I never knew,
    My thoughts to her were an open book..I was an impetuous fool.
    But in truth, what has a young man to offer, a woman so refined,
    Save that rush of physical strength, an energy so defined,
    THAT, she embraced more eagerly, than any goblet rich with wine!
    She was older, with hair flamed as an Autumn sunset,
    With a beauty would turn men’s eyes to adule’ ,
    But I was a young and impetuous fool.
    And I remember I laughed when she bade goodbye,
    For the frivolity of youth has time and world on its side.
    Why lament one fish when we cast our nets so wide?
    But now, as old age whispers its dark, foreboding secret,
    And these last leaves of Autumn begin to fall,
    I yearn for a memory’d kiss.. just that one last kiss,
    From love lost..most of all.

  7. RosemaryJ36

    Wam – I am not challenged by English but clearly there is a range of slang terms to which I have never been exposed. And the relevance of your comment totally escaped me. As did the reference to birth control. FMG is an horrific practice which, sadly, is now most commonly insisted on and performed by women who are ignorant of its original purpose and apparently uncaring about the damage done. I am totally in the dark as to why you raised the issue.

  8. Vikingduk

    That’s really funny, Wam wondering if Rosemary is challenged by English. This from a man that has been labouring for years to communicate in English. Wam, maaate, give up English for Dummies and try a professional when attempting to learn a foreign language. Or perhaps your difficulties are a mere affectation?

  9. totaram

    Vikingduk: I have always assumed that WAM’s posts are designed to be obtuse and opaque, rather than the result of insufficient knowledge of English. I refer to the style in which Mystics are known to write. That is why I have never attempted to comment as a response. Just silly me!

  10. Barry Thompson.

    Vikingduk and totaram. I thought it was just me. I have never been able to decipher Wam.I thought he must be extremely clever or just poor at English expression.

  11. Phil

    Joe Carli.

    I am an old impetuous fool now Joe.

    What I used to do all night, now takes me all night to do.

    Youth is wasted on the young.’ George Bernard Shaw. ‘[Or words to that effect.

  12. leefe

    “There was a degree of mild discrimination in the local ‘white’ community, but it was never intense.”

    I’ve heard so many people say that about the communities in which they grew up and/or lived. Fact is, you cannot know what it is to be a member of a marginalised group unless you are a member of that group and experiencing what they experience.

    Being the child of Polish immigrants, I’m as “Caucasian” as any WASP. But with olive skin that darkened with every faint touch of sun, dark hair, green eyes and a “foreign” name, I wasn’t looked at or treated the same way. I copped my first “go back to where you came from” at seven. No-one challenged the man who threw it at me; many openly laughed, including my class teacher.
    It was there. You just didn’t see most of it because it wasn’t directed at you.

    wam:
    Clitoral removal and other forms of FGM had and have nothing to do with lesbian sex. It’s all about the oh-so-fragile male ego: if women can’t enjoy sex, they won’t go looking for it, so the man who owns them knows they won’t have anything to which they can compare his pitiful attributes and performance (physical and ottherwise).

  13. Vikingduk

    Well, whatever is happening in Wamland, I did have a what the fuck when he commented on Rosemary’s grasp of English as opposed to mathematics. Also a slow day, just a little stir of the pot, a simple, easily deciphered comment.

  14. Joe Carli

    Here, Phil…since you are that sort of bloke..and I sympathise with those sorts of blokes…I’ll give you the “good oil”.. listen close to what the German lady tells us…and then what I concluded and your memories could live again…completely..

    https://freefall852.wordpress.com/2020/05/20/bedtime-stories-5/

  15. Phil

    Joe Carli’ Um very impressed with your words.

    Your observations on the old abandoned ramshackle huts/homes in SA reminded me of a find 2 yrs ago. My wife and I are keen prospectors. We stumbled across and old mine camp. It was a white transportable building about a hundred klicks East of Wiluna in WA that had been abandoned. Outside of the building were some simple rock gardens with flowers not from the area, there were children’s toys scattered around on the ground. We went inside and the cupboards still contained plates and cutlery and odd bits of stuff associated with human activity. . On the dining table was a news paper dated 1975. As we walked around outside,my mind imagined the clinking of dishes being washed in the sink that still had the plug on a chain. I thought like you did, who was this family living out here in the middle of no where? Where are they now. How did they navigate back then, it is easy to still get lost in the bush with a GPS. There are literally thousands of tracks in the goldfields, they all look the same. Soon all that will be left there are the gas bottles and the steel supports the house sat on. The white ants were busy changing it back to what was there before the mining company arrived.

  16. Matters Not

    Perhaps the heading on this piece could also be entitled – Prejudice springs from knowledge.

    Since 1906, the social sciences include a concept know as Ethnocentricism – defined as:

    Sociology: the belief in the inherent superiority of one’s own ethnic group or culture.
    a tendency to view alien groups or cultures from the perspective of one’s own.

    Or

    Ethnocentrism is a belief in the superiority of your own culture. It results from judging other cultures by your own cultural ideals. Ethnocentrism is linked to cultural blind spots. Blind spots occur when we fail to attribute differences between our behaviours and beliefs and those of others to differences in cultural schemas.

    All people in all cultures are ‘ethnocentric’ to some extent. Clearly some more than others. So the more some know about another culture, the more likely they (we) are to pre-judge it. To be ‘prejudiced’. Unless of course we choose not to be. Or are there some ‘universal’, ‘absolute’, ‘objective’ (culture-free) benchmarks that can be utilised to ‘evaluate’ all practices, beliefs, behaviors etc? If so, then fire away! Tell all! Share!

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