Did you know I am a member of one of those "Minority Communities" which occasionally get mentioned on the news??? Actually - at the last count I think I found I could squeeze myself into at least two of those communities - being Disabled and the daughter of at least one (depending on which country I am currently standing in) immigrant. Well, both my parents did live in each other's native country at some point in their lives, not forgetting that I am a lot closer to blind than 20/20 vision without my glasses. Oh - and I am a human of the female species.
I have several problems with the arguments regarding recognition and representation of the "Minority Communities". The biggest one being as follows - the people who could help us the most (let's call them the "Majority Communities" are not involved in any way shape or form.
We will only get true representation and recognition when the "Majority Communities" actually understand the challenges we face on a day to day basis. This is not helped by different "Minority Communities" appearing to be directly fighting against each other for the same thing.
Allow me to give you an example. As someone who is Registered Partially Sighted I am covered by the Equalities Act. However, there is one occasion where the Equalities Act doesn't quite do its job (and I am not talking about the purchase and wearing of glasses either - even though that is not covered by the Act). In a game of "Legal Top Trumps" the Religious Discrimination Act actually works against me (and can put me in danger). A Muslim lady dressed head to foot in black with a niqab isn't exactly the easiest person for me to see and distinguish from the background in most lighting conditions. I have seriously mistaken some of them for traffic bollards, fast-moving loose Wheelie Bins, etc. (In fact, I am not the worst at that - I spoke to one Muslim lady a few years ago who ran her neighbour over because she couldn't see her in the dark. The lady who got run over was next seen wearing reflective tape on her outfit.) But - if I point out my difficulties to a lady dressed in that way they can quite legally and rightfully say that they are free to observe their religion by dressing exactly as they wish. I have no problems with this. All I would like is for anyone who chooses to dress head to foot in black to wear a brightly coloured item of clothing - even if it is only a scarf.
The next question we have to deal with is the definition of "Recognition" we are aiming for. Are we aiming for a situation where members of the "Minority Communities" are recognised as existing and useful members of Society? Or are we aiming for a situation where the individual members actually receive recognition for the fact that we have to work 20 times harder than the "Majority Communities" just to get to the same position in life???
I am not going to play the game where the different "Minority Communities" fight to see which community is the worst off when it comes to recognition and respect from the Majority. Every single "Minority Community" faces its own challenges. However, I fail to see why we cannot all come together and work as a group. Last week I was involved in a debate on Teitter which started out as a debate about the representation of BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) people in the Police. This quickly got changed to "the representation of Minorities in the Police" thanks to me and a few others pointing out that there is not that much difference between the BAME, the LGBT, the Disabled, those with poor Mental Health, etc. Our main problem is that none of the "Minority Communities" are adequately represented in the Police. I don't know what it is like to be black or a Muslim or a member of the LGBT community. However, I do know what it is like to feel discriminated against because of something I cannot change about myself.
The representation issue is a bit of a double-edged sword as far as I am concerned. This is particularly applicable to the Mainstream Media. This may shock you but I did at one time want to be a proper qualified journalist with a Mainstream organisation. That was until I realised that I would be far better blogging and putting my viewpoint across on here. At least I have got a voice on here and I can say what I want (as long as it is within legal parameters and doesn't offend anyone).
The Mainstream Media seem to have two attitudes towards the "Minority Communities". They decide that they are worthy of almost being treated like the "Majority Community" - as in - being given a "proper" job (as a reporter, etc) but (a) not paying them the correct rate for their work and (b) not letting them anchor the major news programmes. (I am thinking about journalist who I suspect is either blind or Partially Sighted who works for the BBC who I would love to see anchor the News at 6.) Or they use them to fill quotas and make up the numbears. Apparently not caring if they truly fit the part they have been given. I have to admit that I stopped watching the panel type quiz shows "Mock The Week" and "QI" since the BBC brought the quotas on women in because I found the women more offensive than the men.
I am a firm believer in getting somewhere on merit. The fact that I have personal experience of the difference in the rules that Disabled people are subjected to in order to reach the saw level as "able-bodied" people just makes me more angry when I hear about quotas and things like "women only shortlists", etc . Don't the people who come up with these crazy ideas realise they are making the problem worse not better. And this is coming from someone who was never sure if they were invited to attend job interviews on my own merit or because the organisation had a quota of Disabled people to interview.
Guess what guys and girls??? I think I might have proven I am reasonably intelligent??? Yes - there are certain things I cannot and will never be able to do due to my sight. However, I have got a lot more going for me than that. I am creative. I can communicate in two recognised languages. I have a very good memory. I am polite, friendly, respectful. I am adaptable (and I don't just mean in the context of the question you are asked about that subject in a job interview). I will try my hardest to get things done (OK so my methods may not exactly be the most conventional you have ever come across sometimes bUT at least they are legal).
Don't judge me on what makes me different from you - judge me on what makes me the same as you.
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