Monday, 15 August 2016

Racism and Strength

BBC Radio Scotland
Thought for the Day
Monday 15th August 2016
Dr. Amanullah De Sondy
Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Islam
University College Cork, Ireland

The Great British Bake Off winner, Nadiya Hussain has said that racism is part of her every day life.  She spoke about how she had become used to being shoved, pushed or verbally abused.  Clearly showing her own inner strength, she never retaliates but used silence as a way of showing that she is the better person and in turn wanted her children to embrace a positive attitude to being British and Muslim.

Nadiya certainly made me think that I never really experienced racial abuse whilst growing up in Glasgow and I’d like to think that it is because this city is so racially diverse with a great inclusive culture.  However, recently in Cork city centre I was told by a very drunk Irishman to ‘go back home’ and to ‘stop taking all our jobs’.  It left me rather shaken but I wanted to shout out that Scotland was actually my home and I also wanted to shout something about Pakistan too.  It was an odd few minutes but a bystander turned to support me and told me to ignore the drunken man.  I guess, I also felt no need to retaliate but that walk home left me thinking about identity and that it is often more complex than we think.

Nadiya has decided not to set boundaries on her life but to move forward with a ‘can do’ attitude.  In some way these are linked.  It must be the aim of the narrow-minded racists and bigots to stop people from feeling happy in themselves.  Religious traditions can quite easily strengthen diverse identities or help fuel religious racism.  Thankfully there are a lot more religious organisations around that help in building bridges rather than divide.   Race is still an issue but it can be challenged with the same strength of our role models, such as Nadiya, in order for us to take steps to encourage ourselves and those around us to successfully work through any boundary that is set upon us.