How is race determined? according to National Geographic, “Race” is usually associated with biology and linked with physical characteristics such as skin color or hair texture.
In some quarters, persons who are White, be they, European, American etc, are seen to be at the top of the hierarchy, however within that, there is a social construct. Those who are wealthy are seen to be at the top of the tree, and those who are less well off are seen to be at the lower end. I remember seeing the social class sketch which aptly describes how the hierarchy works. Then you have East Asian people who are seen to be highly intelligent, they also have a social construct that makes those who are doing well financially more valued and respected than those with more money. You could say, all races have this construct, with occasional exceptions.
The race that seems to be favoured next is South Asians, not all South Asians are treated equally, lighter South Asians are seen more favourably than darker ones and of course richer South Asians will be at the top of the tree but even then, you can see lighter and darker Asians being treated differently.
Finally you have Black people. As with South Asians, not all Black people are treated equally, I was once told by a relative many years ago that I would be seen as last choice for some organisations because I was Black. However, if there was a choice between you as a lighter skinned person and a darker skinned Black person, you would be more than likely be selected. My mother mentioned similarly that she thought I would be looked at more favourable than my darker skinned friend because of the lightness of my skin.
Mixed race people will be seen more favourable than a lighter skin person as they will be seen to be more closer to White. Whether the mix is White and Black, White and South Asian or White and East Asian the White will more than likely enhance your ability to be accepted. There is an added issue relating to this subject, accents. Accents is also intertwined with hierarchy, if you are well off, White and speak well (Queens English) you are likely to be at the top of the tree, however, if you are white and have a Cockney, Northern, Irish or even Welsh accent as an example, you are likely to drop down the hierarchy. Other groups such as those those I mentioned, may not have such an issue with accents. Upbringing regardless of your status is seen as more important.
Do we need these social constructs? Is it important to look down on people? I think not but so many do. I am sure many of you have heard the saying ‘treat the cleaner with the same respect as the director’, you never know if you are going to become the next director or the next cleaner. Opening the door to Black and East/South Asians with the relevant skills to take up the directors posts need to be seen more of the norm, rather than over representation of Black and East/South Asian people as key workers.
It is important to value everyone regardless of their race and position, we all have a part to play in making this world a better place for all. Being at the top of the hierarchy doesn’t make you any better than anyone else. Being seen as the lower part of the hierarchy doesn’t make you any less important. We should not strive to get to the top of the social ladder but to be better human beings. Material gain without a conscious has little value.
As we approach 2022, what decisions will you make to change poor behaviours, poor attitudes. bullying and harassment stems from a perceived right to treat someone unfairly because of their colour, their status or their accent. I for one, would like to see less stories from individuals stating what a torrid time they are having in their workplace or how negatively they are being treated within their community.