Demonstrators protest against the killing of George Floyd in Tunis, Tunisia. File/ AP
The Arab world has seen and continues to see its share of injustices, its protests against such atrocities have seen governments topple and countries brought to a standstill. For centuries the Arab world had been under scrutiny of the Western gaze leading up to the September 11 devastation which allowed both the American government and media to unleash all kinds of prejudiced judgment on a certain ethnicity and a specific faith. We have seen sweeping generalisations made, heard many labels and discriminating rhetoric used and have been subject to baseless profiling, so it is understandable for an Arab to shout Black Lives Matter because they absolutely do. Because pigmentation is not an indication for incarceration and because black or fifty shades of brown complexions can never be a justification for hate or injustice. But before we hastily point our fingers at the West and scoff at their flaws one should look around first for prejudice knows no borders and it surely lives within ours too.
Racial discrimination might not be systemic within the Arab governments’ fabric but that does not mean they are devoid of discriminatory laws and the same can be said about their cultural one, for the Arab world can in no way be absolved of the sin that at its core resides many a prejudice.
Racial discrimination might not be systemic within the Arab governments’ fabric but that does not mean they are devoid of discriminatory laws and the same can be said about their cultural one, for the Arab world can in no way be absolved of the sin that at its core resides many a prejudice. There is nothing more complex than the idea of prejudice for it defies educational merit, economic background and it does not adhere to a specific age-group or even ethnicity, it is a multi-layered issue that is passed down through generations most of which has been normalised through stories and anecdotes told and retold. On the surface people can appear unprejudiced but peel back this layer, cutting deeper with more personal questions and one is sure to reach a level within themselves that harbours some of what was passed on of bigoted ideologies. George Floyd’s death may have compelled you to post a black image on your social-media accounts but what it should really have done is made you question yourself and find within you those dark places where intolerance might be hiding for who among us can stand tall and proclaim that they have never been prejudiced towards a certain ethnicity, gender, colour or faith?
When we ask the right questions, we expose harsh truths and that is alright for we are products of our environment, the media we consume and the people we are surrounded by. This is the first step in the process of learning the broad complexity of prejudice and how one might unconsciously be taking part in it. It is also the first step towards unlearning that which we have been taught and acquiring a higher sensitivity to those ideas that are inherently flawed. This is a long and arduous process for those who seek to truly cleanse themselves, unfortunately for those following trending political issues of the moment the process ends the minute the hashtag dies, thereby giving up on the true lesson that George Floyd’s death is teaching the world. The journey into a colour-blind heart is a long one but it is one we must endure so as not to allow injustice to continue through our children and into the future.
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