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Race, Identity, and What It Means to Belong in 2019

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As this years drawing to a close, I’m realising how much it’s shaping up to be one of dramatic change. And I, for one, am emotionally exhausted. As someone in my mid-twenties, I feel like I’m coming of age in a time where we (millennials especially) are eager for things to be different.  The awareness and understanding of my race and identity in this current climate has been a constant battle, and being mixed race feels as if I’m on the border of two groups – not fully integrated in either. Which brings me to question, is there such a thing as fitting in? And where do I belong? 

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All of us as humans feel the need to belong. We need to belong like we need a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. Finding a sense of belonging can come from all places; from families and friends, to school and work, even extending to social media. Some of us feel a connection to people worldwide, whereas others feel connected with one or two people. Belonging is centered around being noticed, having a support system, and being accepted by others. So is there really a place for us all, and do we all need to fit in to live happy and fulfilled lives? With Brexit looming, and family that voted for both sides of the fence, I didn’t realise how much I was questioning my sense of belonging until now. With a country and political climate that’s so divided; we can work on increasing our sense of belonging by pursuing our acceptance of others and finding ways in which were similar rather than different. This may require us to think outside the box, and open our minds to ideas and values that may not be ours hopefully letting go of our prejudices along the way.

It’s hard to admit, but we’re all subject to a little bit of bias. If we let it go unnoticed, it has the harmful possibility to create stereotypes which over time can lead to discrimination. Racism until very recently has been something that’s remained hidden, but now it’s as embedded and prominent in society as ever. And let’s be honest, living in a racist world is tiring. Attempting to explain to someone who’s in denial that racism even exists makes them feel attacked or persecuted, the wider issue here being that people don’t like to be called out on their blind spots. There’s an alarming belief in some parts of the world that we still don’t have a problem with racism in 2019, and when its pointed out it makes people uncomfortable. What is it that makes discussing issues surrounding race so explosive? In the current paradigm we have, the majority aren’t ready to acknowledge the way the world affects minorities. People feel that they have no responsibility to help fix an issue if they didn’t do something personally to cause it – but we must all band together and change what we can. As daunting as it may be, we must find positive and productive ways to change this global nature of racism.

The current world we live in has a way of unconsciously emphasising and reminding us of who we are, regardless of where we live or what we do. We are all becoming more conscious and  more anxious about our place in the world, and whether or not we fit in. Our race, our identity, and whether or not we belong is at the forefront of our subconscious. What we have to remember is there’s no normal, no right or wrong. We’re all in this together, and whilst we’ve come so far… we still have much further to go.

 

Written by J’Nae Phillips

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