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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 25th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Why are we teaching kids to be racist?

3 June 2020

What has happened to the world?

Everywhere I look, people on both sides of a growing divide are playing the race card.

In the USA, people of all races and creeds are using the death of George Floyd as an excuse to loot and pillage -- not because of outrage over his death, because it seems to be a great opportunity to grab lots of "free stuff".

What a sign of disrespect that is to the memory of Mr Floyd and those who are really protesting the outrage that is his death.

Sadly, looking at the online footage, there does seem to be an overly represented number of black Americans engaging in this looting and property damage. How can those with a genuine grievance and a right to be outraged over Floyd's death gain any traction for their cause when so many others are using this as nothing more than an opportunity to steal?

Although some genuine protestors have done their best to prevent this looting, they appear to be greatly outnumbered by the opportunist thugs.

My sympathies go out to those whose protests are being perverted in this way.

To be honest though, I am genuinely confused over this whole racism thing.

I have to say that when it comes to judging someone, race simply doesn't factor into the equation for me.

I recall as a kid at school that there were other kids from all sorts of different races in my classes. None of those kids were discriminated against because of the colour of their skin or other racial attributes.

We were just a bunch of kids and we all played together in the playground, all chatted and formed friendships with scant regard for race. In fact, you were more likely to be discriminated against on the basis of your haircut or what you ate for lunch than on the basis of race.

This attitude has carried forward to today, where I still judge people on their actions and attitudes, not their skin colour, the thickness of their lips or the angle of their eyes.

I have good friends who are Asian, Maori, Pacific Islanders, European and African... their race matters nought to me. If they're nice people and we share a common interest or perspectives then we are more than likely going to be friends.

Interestingly enough (and quite coincidentally), the very tiny number of people who I actively dislike are all white European in ethnicity. People just like myself. If I dislike someone it's probably because they've proven themselves to be an arse or untrustworthy.

So what's with all this racism that fills the pages of our media?

More importantly, why is it that (seemingly) so many of our young people feature so prominently in incidents of racism? Why are kids today seemingly so much more focused on a person's race than they were in my day?

Could it be that our school system has changed and there's too much ridiculous focus on having the generation of today pay for the deeds of their ancestors?

Here in New Zealand, Maori seem to be told that they're "owed" by contemporary Europeans because of the way their long-dead ancestors were treated by the grandparents and great grandparents of this current generation of non-Maori. To be honest, it seems that we have an education system that fans the fires of racism by creating this culture of entitlement based on wrongs of the past and telling others that they should feel guilt for the same reasons.

Is that really sensible?

I'm sorry that Maori got the short end of the stick on far too many occasions but it is HISTORY now and nobody ought to be held responsible for the actions of their ancestors.

Should a 20-year-old white European New Zealand really be held accountable for the fact that his great grandfather actively suppressed the speaking of the Maori Language? If that's the case then maybe the children of murderers and rapists should also be imprisoned for the crimes of their parents and other ancestors. Can culpability be inherited? I don't think so.

The reality is that in my day, kids were all treated equally and treated each other equally. We weren't told that some were entitled to more than others, solely based on the colour of their skin and the crimes of previous generations. As a result, everyone got along very well and nobody felt disadvantaged or discriminated against.

Sadly, I fear that what we have today is institutionalised racism that is taught in our schools and tertiary institutions -- to the detriment of all society.

If there are any crimes that need to be addressed, it's the crimes currently being committed in the name of "racial entitlement" and "racial culpability" for deeds of the distant past. These are the crimes that are teaching new generations of kids that they have a *right* to seek redress for crimes of the past, even though those who actually committed those crimes and those who suffered from them are long since dead and buried.

Until we stop teaching racism as an acceptable attitude, things will only continue to get worse.

Or, in my confusion, do I have this all wrong?

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