26 March 2008


There seems to be an old idea running through the black community that you should 'respect your elders'. I hear that quite a lot. In fact, that was a strong feature in my childhood. You didn't ever dare call someone of my parents generation (say) by their first name, they always had a title - Mr So-and So or Mrs or Miss. If they were part of a church they were known as Brother or Sister So-and-So. Never did you call them by their first name only. Not allowed. That was an example of respecting someone.
This has me thinking about this issue of 'respect'. Being respected is a big issue. Even I have found myself, in past moments of being totally pathetic, moaning that someone doesn't respect me. Now what does that actually mean?
How do you respect someone? Why is it important, if it is, to be respected? How does respect manifest itself? Does feeling respected feel differently from not being respected? - and how can you tell the difference?
In London I have seen so many instances of people having some kind of conflict where one person felt that they weren't being given 'due respect'. I have observed hip-hop artists, for example, pushing the idea that respect is paramount. Why?
My view is it starts with feeling powerless and is an attempt to control the small world around us. I think it is to do with a lack of self-worth, poverty of the mind, lack of education, poor quality peer groups, poor parenting - all wrapped up with a view of the world not based on reality but fantasy.
If people were taught to communicate effectively and they could adapt critical thinking skills into their lives, where they did not view the bible (for example) as the word of a god, where social morals were there for them to freely choose, where people could be who they wanted to be, where the focus was on their child being given the tools to enable them to understand the world without bias nor a belief in scary stories, without fear yet with a critical eye, questioning everything (can you imagine such a scenario?) then I think the issue of respect would lose its importance.
I have featured pictures of young children being abused by supernaturalistsand their ideas on this blog.The high-level, worldwide, state sanctioned child abuse must stop. It must stop or nothing will change. I try and imagine the world without the supernatural and all its manifestations.
Although, my concern is not necessarily for myself it is sad to think that with all the marvellous, new and innovative technological advances we are still stuck where we are.

What is there to respect? Some young black men are harming themselves and others because of this idea of 'respect'. It is a stronghold that must be broken. Lives are being destroyed because of this very thing. It is easy to believe something because our parents and previous generations believed it. That is exactly why we are in the mess we are in today. Don't respect your elders just because they are older. Don't respect traditions. Don't respect old ideas.
Don't respect - think!


chandy said...

I've always thought respect was earned and not some given just because..... This falsehood is another, imo, hindrance in many black communities. Instead of teaching our kids the true values of "earning" we demand their compliance, without explanation. I've found this stance to be detrimental to growth, instead, just look around you and see how it fosters anger and ignorance.
It's going to be a very very very long process for many to come to grips with how destructive their behavioural patterns are and to want to make that change for future generations.

PS: I'm passing your link on to some others who would be inspired by your messages

TWINING said...

Respect is being fought for on the streets. Is it because some of those fighting don't have opportunities? Why then don't some have the opportunities? Hello Zee.

Zee Harrison said...

Chandy and Twining,

Thank you both for your comments.


Most of the problems I see in the world and particularly in black communities stem from the promotion of believing without analysis. 'Compliance without explanation' as you stated. This thread has run through our communities for far too long and the effects are there for all to see - so called faith plays a bigger part than is actually acknowledged.
Thank you for offering to promote this blog. Every effort helps to get the message across and hopefully free some minds!

Good questions. You are doing a very difficult job in very difficult circumstances and I admire your guts in having a blog where difficult issues are raised and discussed. Most (black?)people see black police officers as sell-outs and you are making people aware that not all police officers are 'bad eggs'. I worked in an environment where racism was endemic and if you raised your voice you were seen as the problem. The only other two black officers either suffered in silence or failed to see the problem at all. It's tough - the force should be careful as they are constantly trying to recruit BME's and if they are afraid to look within they will fail to recruit positive, forward-thinking black people who can really make a difference and do a good job.

Respect is being fought for on the streets. But how do you change this? If people suddenly have opportunities, what will they be? What would need to change? What will these opportunites be on the ground? I think these are big questions which will need to avoid the papering-over-the-cracks solutions of old. They don't work. They never have. I don't think people like Trevor Phillips (the Equalities Commission head has the answers either, in fact, I think he is part of the problem - too establishment and anyone who was/is endorsed by the likes of Tony Blair has a strike against them immediately. Too lickey-lickey for me.

Let's start by removing a belief in myths and fairy stories, educate children to think critically about everything and watch the difference it makes.

Great blog and I will be contributing shortly. In fact you have given me an idea for my next post.

Thank you both again.

TWINING said...

Zee, you are right, forward thinking Black people are seen to be a part of the problem, and people in power view us as such because they may not understand their own thoughts....

We challenge these academcially and it's not liked. They don't like being challenged on what got them to the top.