Tolerance: To “recognise and respect” or to “endure”?

This week a friend of mine was racially abused in a club. A man came to speak to her and asked where she was from originally. When she replied that her dad was African she was told to “Fuck off and go back to her own country.”

If there is one thing I hate it is discrimination towards people who are not exactly the same as you. I’m white and my closest friends are African and Asian. We have racial banter, but it’s OK because we are so close and we know that none of us really mean it. Similarly, another good friend of mine is a gay and we have in-jokes with her about that. But when your race or sexual orientation is used as an insult, and a means of discrimination and prejudice then it’s wrong and it’s sick and it needs to stop.

In sixth form general studies we were asked how tolerant we are other other races, religions and sexual preference. I was shocked at the amount of racism and homophobia in the classroom. Whilst people were not outright stating that they hated gay people or black people etc., they still showed a lower level of tolerance for people who were different to them. In particular, Muslim people had the biggest stereotype and a lot of people automatically thought, “terrorist.” It’s sad that people tend to look at the minority within a race and judge everyone based on that.

And as my teacher pointed out, why use the word, “tolerant?”

To tolerate:
1. To allow without prohibiting or opposing; permit.
2. To recognize and respect (the rights, beliefs, or practices of others).
3. To put up with; endure.

To me and the majority of the class, tolerance meant the first and the third definition.

Is it right to use a word that pragmatically suggests that “we just have to cope with black people” or, “we will allow you to be gay?”

Tolerance should mean to ‘recognise and respect’ rather than to ‘endure’. Sadly, for many people, it is not.

When I was doing my A-Levels, my English class went to a primary school to look at language acquisition of kids. The children at this school only went up until year 2. During lunch break, we all headed outside to play a game of football with the kids, when one child, of no older than 7, called my friend a “Paki.”

A child that age using such language? And where would he have got that from? Well, I’m gonna say the parents.

How can we ever get rid of prejudice in this world if kids are taught stuff like that? Adult’s need to act like adult’s and show some responsibility. Teaching kids such hate is not going to help the world, but destroy it.


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