Social distancing is not an avant garde philosophy! By Luke Young

Our current climate is honestly something that is quite familiar to a number of individuals who\’ve felt they\’ve never culturally belonged. The forced social distancing, we are currently experiencing as a human race is quite tragic, as it literally means the entire world is required to STOP! Stop, going out for the sake of going out, or to waste time, we are not used to being bound at home — trapped in our own personal oubliettes. This pandemic, is horrific we should not waste this opportunity for personal growth and development by laying blame on humans that are different, a little understanding I feel would be a better use of flowing hourglass granules. Maybe, now we can make the planet just a little smaller by appreciating, the various cultures that ensconce us. People are afraid to comprehend the differences within global civilizations. So many online resources are available to those who wish to have a imaginarium based vacation. Learn a new language, recipe or craft, anything to benefit your personal prosperity of the snow owl\’s bird eye view of our vast globe. Help to eradicate xenophobia by riddling your essence with educational knowledge — not sheep lead bias.
Rania M M Watts, Founder CCIQ Press

Social distancing is not an avant garde philosophy! By Luke Young

Right now there is a term being bandied about called ‘social distancing’. We are told this is to the best benefit of the community and the societies we live in. That it will help stop the spread of what is becoming a global pandemic. But for centuries social distancing has been a normal practice for segments of society which hold power. Whether it is apartheid South Africa with black only beaches and white only beaches, or the Jim Crow American south with segregated water fountains, different theater times and certain businesses with racial exclusions, or Canada’s infamous boarding school system for stolen indigenous children. Aren’t these all forms of social distancing? It is understandable now, and segregation due to illness and preventing its spread are very different than the political and economic targeting of ethnicities for the maintenance of power structures. Certainly that’s a mouthful but let’s look at how our global modern world is actually showing how far we haven’t progressed away from centuries of discrimination.

Attacks on Asians in non-Asian countries have been on the rise and both national and local governments have been issuing decrees asking people not to profile people by outward looks. This seems to be ironic in the extreme. Even the playful connotations of Corona beer with corona virus can easily be used by those already prejudiced as a means to “appropriately” make racial jokes. Discrimination and racial bias are global problems. For example, a high level official in Cambodia recently made a statement in a speech about how Cambodians were less susceptible to the Corona Virus due to their strong dispositions and healthy lifestyles. Consequently there has been a backlash against foreigners in Cambodia including signs banning foreigners or people being turned out of guest houses because they are considered more susceptible. It’s easy to place blame on people who look and act differently than the majority. As our urban centers across the world, and particularly in Europe and North America, become increasingly more diverse in terms of immigrants, skin tones and cultural heritage, the rise of reactionary sentiment among certain elements of the population also surfaces. These age old prejudices and fears of outsiders have been muted in the past few decades but never eradicated. This is social distancing in its most destructive form.

As a person of mixed heritage, Scottish settler and Indigenous American, the realities of social mingling and segregation have always been a part of my family’s history. Two of my great-grandfather’s hid their identities in order to easily find employment and navigate a world which would never accept them for their heritage. Others who can easily be targeted for their outward appearances often find it easier to stay within their communities. Fortunately as the world has opened up due to the internet, media and television, more and more people are willing to try food from other cultures or engage more with those who come from very different backgrounds. This is definitely more common in large urban areas.

The small city my family and I live in, which is in central Minnesota, has an extremely large Somali immigrant population yet I haven’t met a single non-Somali who has been to their butcher shops or cafes. My first visit to one of their restaurants revealed how far the lack of integration goes. When driving around or looking at class photos, it seems diverse, but it is only diverse on the surface. Very little mingling between the Somali immigrants and the wider community happens. I suppose there are a multitude of reasons for this but consider the fact that every immigrant group or indigenous group has faced this before eventually finding some form of grudging acceptance. I’m sick of hearing the established locals whine about the Somali’s ruining their city or speaking vaguely about how this town just isn’t the same anymore. Most Americans, much less those that live in this city, don’t seem to know that it is largely due to U.S. meddling in East Africa which further plummeted their countries into civil war and chaos. The movie Black Hawk Down is striking example of historical whitewashing without any development of why U.S. soldiers were really there or what contributed to their nation’s collapse. Instead the new Somali immigrants are immediately judged superficially and forced to practice social distancing.

So as this phrase of social distancing becomes common I can’t help but think about all the social distancing which has been practiced against so many different minorities, working poor, or indigenous inhabitants by the dominant settlers, corporate entities or governments. To me one of the best ways to combat the social programming, which is instilled in us at an early age, is to be mindful of others, travel as much as possible to places very different than what we are used to, and show healthy curiosity towards other races, cultures or ethnicities. There is a huge world out there to experience but if we only stay in our comfort zones and maintain relationships with those like us then there will not be progress. Instead, there will be a degeneration of experience and a tread towards exclusivity, selfishness, bigotry and ultimately racism and persecution. Common people don’t generally persecute others until they’ve been cultivated to do so and in the United States there has always been a different target for persecution, whether it was Irish immigrants, Italians, Indigenous, Eastern Europeans, Central Americans, Chinese, Southeast Asians or Mexicans. The similarities between each of these in the first years of their immigration, or awareness to the public eye, came in the fact that they were different than the people who control the mechanisms of economic and political power. Maybe once this global pandemic is over more people will be willing to reach out to others vastly different than themselves due to shared experience. Maybe this is also too optimistic and the battle for acceptance and inclusion will continue, but just in a new form. 

I’ll leave this piece as it is with a quote from Mark Twain. His wide words have stuck with me for many years, and I love the fact that they were written at a time when the United States was even less diverse and more bigoted than it is now. I’ve always found this quote to hold an immense amount of truth and I wish it was widely practiced.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one\’s lifetime.” 

It might be the wrong time to think of traveling, but we must also look forward to the time when this is all over. Maybe it is the right time to buy those tickets or start to plan a trip somewhere. Even just to entertain the thought is a good start. We’re not all going to be cooped up in our respective residences permanently. 

                                                                                                                                      Luke Young is a writer, bibliophile, autodidact and factotum. He grew up among Southeast Asian war refugees in the states of Washington and California before moving to Cambodia where he lived for the majority of the next seventeen years. He moved back to the United States in the autumn of 2017 with his wife and four children and they plan to stay for a minimum of five years before making other plans.

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