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This Separated Isle


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

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This Separated Isle

17 Jan 2022 9:04AM   Views : 358 Unique : 193


[Prejudice is] ‘an emotional commitment to ignorance’ (Nathan Rutstein)

Even the most annoying words can be helpful… I won’t give chapter and verse, but a writer who has an amazing ability to annoy me with random tangents and ideas recently wrote about a book, and their lack of detail in the piece led me to look for the book, and it’s a gem.

The format is that a number of photographers were asked to photograph British people who are marginalised in one way or another, and interview them. An edited transcript of an interview between photographer and subject accompanies a single picture in each case.

I was brought up in a white, middle-class English home, but was raised to believe in the concept that all people are equal. At school, sometimes the hard way, I learned about the lack of equality in the real world, and the lack of any direct link between background and ability. A Staffordshire state grammar school was quite good for that, and it becoming a comprehensive school while I was there added a richness that I appreciate more now than I did then.

But… It all gave me a practical insight into the clash between reality and assumption based on any sort of prejudice. I now live in a particularly diverse town (in a part of England mistakenly described by a former American president as unsafe for white people), and we generally rub along together reasonably well. Though there are times when it is still safer to be white than anything else, and THAT is another definition of prejudice.

One of the problems that becomes apparent as soon as you start to look closer is that bad treatment at the hands of society radicalises people. They become aware of every situation and nuance that works out prejudice for them, and can be quite spiky company. They may – in one’s own view – become oversensitive to the way one expresses things. I often use the phrase ‘rule of thumb’ and I suppose my mind had a mental image of a craftsman holding a thumb up to take a rough measurement. It is less comfortable when you find that the original ‘rule of thumb’ was that a man could beat his wife with a rod as thick as his thumb…

So, if any of this interests you, you may want to do two things: buy the book (because the pictures are excellent) and look around, for the thing that you can do today to make the world – your bit of it, anyway – more inclusive.


dudler Plus
18 1.8k 1928 England
17 Jan 2022 9:07AM
Maybe not every marginalised person or group is admirable: think of the way that isolated men may self-identify as 'incel' - involuntarily celibate... This may demonstrate that we need to show concern for any isolated individual, though. Compassion is not exclusively for the good or deserving, in a caring society.
cooky Plus
18 6 6 United Kingdom
17 Jan 2022 11:46AM
I do think there were and probably still are, two main systems of prejudice at work across the world, class and race. Unfortunately the class system works within most cultures and we see people of the same nation prejudiced against each other. There was a lot of truth as well as tongue in cheek humour in The Frost Report, Social Class sketch of 1966, unfortunately still relevant today. If we add in disability and religion...even regional accents, well!

If we think prejudice is too large to conquer, we're sunk. I firmly believe every little beacon of light goes towards change. We can't re write our history but we can improve in the future. As Anthony De Mello quoted; "Nothing has changed except my attitude so everything has changed."


dudler Plus
18 1.8k 1928 England
17 Jan 2022 1:32PM
Who said 'Be the change'?

I wonder if some people do nothing because they don't know what to do? Generally, if you do things with goodwill, even if there are misfires and misunderstandings, things progress. One of the most life-affirming things I've done was to join a tea party outside a church in Walsall: the vicar set it up as a counter to an 'English Defence League' rally (which was mostly made up of people from outside the Borough).

Behind the screens the police had insisted on, the EDL were shouty and angry. At the tea party there were smiles and singing.
saltireblue Plus
12 12.9k 82 Norway
17 Jan 2022 3:01PM
Hmmm...that definitely sounds worth a read, John, but not available for Kindle, unfortunately, and sold out on Amazon in book form.
dudler Plus
18 1.8k 1928 England
17 Jan 2022 4:13PM
I bought it direct from the publishers (effectively, part of Bristol University) HERE.

I don't know whether they ship to Norway - if not, send me a private message, Malc.

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