Stuck in the Dark Ages
I live in the Middle East, to be more specific the Arabian Gulf region. The GCC is a melting pot of different nationalities and cultures and we all live in acceptance and adopt a lot of the characteristics that these cultures bring with them. For example, until 1965, in Bahrain, the Indian Rupee was used as a form of currency and this has lived on. The official denomination is Fils but it is commonly called a “Rubiah” which is a direct alliteration of the word Rupee. Additionally, this mixing of influences can be seen in the food, dialect and cultural and societal norms.
My belief that we lived in a just, fair and accepting society where every member was respected and no judgement was passed based on one’s ethnicity, language or the color of their skin was shattered, and it forever changed my outlook on where I live.
Since I work for a rather large organization, a major part of it is to travel within the Gulf Region. One morning, after checking in at the airport and going to the gate, it was announced that the boarding would take place by seat numbers. Let me backtrack a little, the boarding was done the old fashion way where they would load people onto a bus which would then take a ridiculously long time to reach the place. However when it came time to actually board, airline and airport staff walked around the seating area choosing people from specific nationalities. The people of Asian origin were made to wait and board the second bus after the “privileged” ones had boarded the first. Upon seeing this injustice, I had to say something to which the supervisor said “This is the way it is. Most of the families want a separate bus away from the Asians” after which he threatened to turn me into the police for disrupting boarding. Since I had no choice, I unwillingly and begrudgingly sat back down and didn’t say a word.
This was a cosmopolitan Middle Eastern City. This was a major international airport. This was an airline of global repute. This was in 2017. The worst part is the lack of emotion in everyone when it occurred. It was as if they were completely desensitized by it and accepted it as the norm.
It made me realize that underneath the guise of supposed equality, there was blatant racism ingrained into this culture. This will not stop until we as a society acknowledge there is a racial bias in the society and then take steps to counter this by community outreach programs and early education.
I struggle to find examples in a global context to show how inclusion and no prejudice can positively impact society. Maybe one day in the future there will, but for now, we as a species are failing miserably in being ONE.