Opinion: Let’s get on same page and see everyone as equal

Peter FiorenzaGeraldton Guardian
In an ideal world, children would learn to value all people and grow into adults who didn’t discriminate.
Camera IconIn an ideal world, children would learn to value all people and grow into adults who didn’t discriminate. Credit: 44169.000000/Getty Images

The recent death of George Floyd in the United States has created much discussion in the news and social media.

And, as always, the influence of social media has led to a degree of exaggeration and polarisation, to say the least.

There is no doubt that the Black Lives Matter movement motives are sincere and bring attention to a degree of inadequacies in our current world.

This could also be said about the Me Too movement and how that has gained more and more momentum.

Now, I have mentioned in this column before that racism, prejudice and sexism was something I really only got to understand when I left school and became an adult.

Why? Well, for some reason, when my brother and I were growing up here in Geraldton, in retrospect, we seemed to be indirectly protected from such influences.

I suppose we would have encountered some sort of racism but I cannot remember anything that stood out or made an impression.

Yes, I noticed a difference in skin colour and Asian features but, honestly, Mum and Dad never really made a point of that with us.

As we got older and started playing team sport, it was a case of those with Aboriginal, Caucasian, southern European and Asian all in the mix.

Even as a student at St Patrick’s College (an all-boys school) the Christian Brothers were in the habit of treating everyone the same, no matter your background.

As to sexism, again, like racism, it never seemed to raise its ugly head.

Much of my formative years were spent with my two female cousins.

Especially during the primary school years my brother and I spent much of our weekends and holidays with our cousins under the watchful eye of our nanna.

I remember it as a special time growing up, and despite the odd damage to a doll here and there, we really didn’t have any type of situation or incident that could be labelled sexist. In fact, it could be said that because of the good deal of time I spent with my cousins, I truly came to understand that both sexes needed to be treated equally.

So, when I eventually entered into the big, brave adult world I received what I could describe as a series of mini shocks.

Sexism in the workplace, was something that stood out early for me, and the sheer fact that it seemed somewhat acceptable was, at first, baffling to me.

And the stereotyping and ostracising of people of a different religion, race, or culture, at one time here in Australia, seemed to be widely accepted.

I know there is a lot of positive and negative views surrounding movements such as Black Lives Matter and Me Too but if we cut through the chaff, I think we can all agree there is an element of “being on the same page”.

Don’t you think?

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Peter Fiorenza is the host of Fiorenza on Sunday, 10am to noon on Radio MAMA.

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