“There are two kinds of evil people: People who do evil stuff and people who see evil stuff being done and don’t try to stop it.”– Janis Ian, Mean Girls.
A film targeting teenage girls may seem like a disreputable source to quote for such a sensitive topic, but few can deny the fact that it targets two of the main perpetrators of racism: Those who are proud racists and those who aren’t, but don’t stand up for the victims.
In Malta, it seems, racism is hailed as freedom of speech, even though topics like homophobia, ageism and misogyny aren’t. The funny thing, however, is that there are no differences between hatred towards women, homosexuals or black people because they are all fear of the other. Of that which is not middle-class, white, straight and male.
I find it incredibly disheartening that a whopping 33% of University of Malta students are not ready to share their campus with someone of colour, and that 40% would feel uncomfortable if a person of colour lived on their street*. What have these youngsters been taught at school? Have they never watched TV or been out of the country? What do their parents have to say for themselves?
Nothing, probably; and this is the truth about closed-mindedness in Malta.
Then, there was the infamous Times of Malta article, bearing the title ‘Migrants being ‘forced to ask Maltese to hail buses’**. What is that? And why are we not cracking down on such behaviour? We are so willing to persecute and purge ourselves of Mosta cat killers (as we should) but then we are not even moved by the fact that we are making another human being’s life a misery.
I am not going to go through the whole story of how these people must have been pushed to the edge before they undertook the incredibly dangerous journey to cross the Mediterranean Sea. Anyone with half a brain and a heart can appreciate that. And let’s remember that not all black people living in Malta are irregular migrants. Some of them are smarter, more qualified and richer than you and I will ever be. But no matter what, why should these people be treated like anything less? And why are we so okay with it?
I just ask you to check out the comments on Facebook or on newspaper portals to see how much some people despise immigrants, solely based on the colour of their skin. It is sickening and it should make us very, very angry. But instead, we call for push backs and hail the politicians who preach hatred rather than tolerance, death rather than rescue.
For some reason, it’s culturally okay to be a racist in Malta, and why wouldn’t it be, when it has so very little consequences? Until we treat it like the crime that it is, we shall continue to suffer from ‘otherness’ – and believe you me, we are not keeping them out, but boxing ourselves in.
Do you agree with James? Should there be harsher punishments for racism? Let us know in the comments’ section below.