A new report from the uni of Sheffield has found Welfare reform reinforces growing class prejudice reminiscent of Victorian era –
” many people now attribute unemployment and poverty to the failings of individuals, rather than to structural weaknesses in the British economy and entrenched socio-economic inequalities. Worryingly, negative views around welfare were also extended to the physically disabled and mentally ill. The research therefore suggests that, in the aftermath of the recession, there has been a decline in empathy and understanding for some of the most disadvantaged and marginalised groups in our society
Today the Guardian have turned over comment is free to black contributors, this is fantastic and exactly what we need more of as according to FleetStreetFox “it’s 2014 and we’re speaking about foreigners in much the same way we did 100 years ago, with just as much nastiness, stupidity and flawed logic“. Other reports have arrived at similar conclusions, both the British Social Attitude survey and the Archbishop of Canterbury have shared concerns about the rise in racism. As a white woman I can’t speak on what this means in everyday day, but I empathise from the perspective of being disabled; I also accept it is my responsibility to challenge any racist attitudes wherever I find them.
I can’t help thinking this decline in empathy and understanding has something to do with the lack of challenge from the Country’s’ leaders towards prejudice, instead the current Political discussion is full of ‘blame culture’. When comments such as “we’re like under siege’ from ‘huge numbers’ of migrants“, “some” disabled people are “not worth the full wage”, “Women ‘to blame’ for being raped” or ‘people getting really good benefits are going to charity food banks; not only go with out challenge but are also regularly justified by skewed statistics pulled from the ether, we as a nation, are in trouble.
The ease with which we can find comments like the above, and blogs and posts from people experiencing not only an increase in prejudice, but also discrimination, is terrifying; further it is hard evidence of the reality of life in Britain for many of us from the ‘minority’ sectors of society. Continuing to to accept our problems are the fault of other minority group members, and, or choosing to believe the bigoted hype of the elite ran main stream media, can only result in the continuing collapse of the society we’ve grown up with. Acknowledging our own prejudices and electing to view them from the other side is the way we individually fight back.
The really crazy thing about this, is we the ‘minorities’ actually form a ‘majority’, and the only thing holding us back, are our individual fears of difference and of change. As a long time community activist I believe in people, not in a notion that all people are good, but in the belief we are better when we come together. As a collective sharing our strengths, skills knowledge and experiences we individually grow more powerful; but together we become formidable and through utilising the diversity, we can create change.
It is only by using our collective strengths we can challenge the structural weaknesses and demand the changes to the existing socio-economic inequalities that encourages prejudice to grow, thus ensuring our children and grandchildren benefit from a fairer and more equal society.
Together We Are STARS shining in the dark and fighting against the Capitalist Light Pollution