Friday, 2 March 2012

Ethnicity = Opportunity

One morning while getting dressed for work I was watching re-runs of Ugly Betty, this episode was about Betty and her Colleague Mark both applying for the traineeship of their dreams that would fast track them to their dream jobs as magazine editors.
Betty the less stylish out of the two decided to pitch her idea for a magazine for young women who wanted to be empowered by strong influential intelligent women rather than to be influenced by the fashion world, whereas Mark the Stereotypical bitchy gay guy pitched his industry savvy idea for yet another fashion magazine.
After he over-confidently flaunted his perfect glossy magazine in Betty’s face, to his, Betty’s and everyone else’s surprise it was Miss Betty Suarez that was granted the life changing traineeship.
Pissed off and upset with Betty’s Glory gloating, Mark told her that the only reason that she got the traineeship over him was because of her ethnicity. Naturally I wanted to shout at my TV “you bitter F@#$*!” But as I’d emotionally invested in Marks Character and had already decided that if he were real we would deffo be B.F.F’s, I gave him the benefit out the doubt, and it turns out that he was telling the truth.
When applying to university I didn’t get the grades that were required for my course. So in a panic with my heart racing I called up my first choice uni and explained that I hadn’t gotten the grades and wanted to know where this left me. To my surprise the sweet lady on the other end of the phone told me “congratulations dear, you still have your place” I was so relieved that it didn’t even cross my mind how I still had my place even though I clearly missed the grades. It wasn’t until a year or so later that my friend told me that her friend who lived on the next road to mine also didn’t get the grades for her uni course but because of our post code she was accepted on the course as there was apparently some scheme running at the time for universities to accept people from our neck of the woods whether they made the grades or not.
When she told me this I couldn’t help but feel that I had been pitied upon and that because I don’t come from the most prestigious neighbourhood that I was felt sorry for and given a ‘chance’ in life because without their help, people from ‘disadvantaged neighbourhoods’ like me would never be able to go to university and further themselves. Really?!
You might think that I’m being silly and unreasonable but I can totally understand why Betty got so pissed off. I like Betty may not come from the best neighbourhood or may not be the right shade of light but that doesn’t mean that I won’t work hard to prove my worth, value and intelligence. But then on the flipside as much as I hate to admit it, if that scheme wasn’t running at the time I probably would’ve had to re-sit exams and would’ve either fallen a year behind or ended up at a uni that I had no desire to go to.
There are so many schemes out there that help people from ‘ethnic minorities’ or ‘disadvantages backgrounds’ etc and to some extent this is a good thing, as it presents plentiful opportunities that perhaps without this type of ‘help’ wouldn’t be impossible (because nothing is impossible), but would perhaps just take a lot more time. But then at the same time people are quick to preach how people should not be treated different because of the colour of their skin, to never judge a book by its cover and that all people are equal. Then why do schemes like this exist and why on earth are we still filling out forms that ask us to state out ethnicity if race is not the issue?
Someone once told me that they applied for a job as an experiment. They applied for the exact same position, and wrote identical details on both application forms, the only difference was on one form they wrote their real name which happened to be an African name and on the other they wrote a fake name which was a typical English name and guess who got the call for the interview… Ding-a-ling a-ling for those that guessed the English name!
I would love to pretend that we live in a world where these things no longer happen or that race no longer matters but it does big time which begs the question; When we live in a world that still ignorantly makes a point of employing people based of how English their name sounds or how well they physically fit in with what society deems as acceptable, should the so called underdogs of society meaning the common and the ethnic people of this world be offended or sceptical when the same society that puts and attempts to keep us down also attempts to lend a helping hand? Is there a catch 22 or should we just shut our mouths accept the helping hand and run with it for our future?
What are your thoughts on this? Have you ever been given an opportunity based on something others perceive to be disadvantageous? How did it make you feel?
Love Sara (A little lady with many opinions). xxx

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