When identity gets in the way

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When I wake up in the morning, I just get on with being myself. It is when I come into contact with other people that I start reflecting about layers of identity.  It is important to have ways of categorising and describing various features of the human condition, but we should recognise our common humanity, first and foremost.

I would like to live my life in such a way that I don’t have to take responsibility for anyone’s perceptions of people who share the same skin tone, ethnicity or even gender as me. Carrying the weight of dealing with people’s preconceived notions is really tiring and tiresome.

Commitment to this mindset brings a new set of ups and downs, however. The video clip of Mo Farrah being harassed at an airport in Germany makes me think of a lot of irritating issues. I’ve had good times in Germany cities and towns in the past and I don’t assume that Germans see people of colour in any specific way, but there is no doubt that many passport control and customs people at German and Austrian airports treat Black EU passport holders differently from White ones.

It is going to be interesting to see the way that Black people from the UK will be treated when they travel in Europe after Brexit. Obviously, matters of this sort are not worthy of much consideration for Brexiteers.

There was a feature on Yahoo News about Farah’s experience. It attracted ugly comments from many sad and resentful people who can’t accept that he has a right to complain about being treated differently from others, possibly due to his name and the way he looks. Where do we go from here?

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