I have studied at the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, the Centre for Holocaust Education at UCL Institute of Education, and taken part in several courses and workshops from the Holocaust Education Trust, and Yahad-In Unum. Through it all one mantra introduced to me by Professor Yehuda Bauer has stuck with me: “There is only one race – the human race”
One of the most challenging, yet rewarding aspects of my role as an educator is the teaching of ethics. Here again, ideas of “the other” are a major concern. It is one of the early exercises that I engage in with my students is an attempt, to isolate “who is the other?” within the class. When gender, gender identity, height, weight, eye and hair colour, and a vast array of other distinctions are considered – the only possible answer is “everyone.”
I often shock some students when I comment that there are no such things as black people or white people. All humans are actually on a spectrum of brown. Yes, very light or very dark in some cases, but nevertheless – brown. Objections are countered by a simple experiment of having students place their hands on a sheet of white paper.
But in society today we still have to deal with racism, sexism, classism, ageism, antisemitism, islamophobia, xenophobia and so many more. Isn’t it time we begin to show our dislike of something sensible like the “isms” themselves?