I was lucky recently to be part of an experiment in which young offenders known for their racism were all given DNA tests (compliments of the organisation I was working for) and asked to attend a single meeting in which they would examine and discuss the results.
The DNA Test
The main purpose of this test was to establish each person's lineage. And ultimately their 'true' nationality. Needless to say, very few people living in the UK have a pure UK lineage. We have been invaded countless times, most notably by the Danes who had a jolly fine time impregnating as many pure-blooded English women as they could for many years. It is thought by some that this is where the red-headed gene came from.
The results from the test (which took a week to be carried out and returned to us by post) were listed as percentages.
And what the teenagers saw on their individual pieces of paper was a list of countries with a percentage attached to each one.
Something like this:
with a further breakdown too:
....you get the idea.
What effect did this have on the racist teenagers?
Well, they were shocked. The room fell completely silent (for the first time since the meeting began!) while they looked down their list of nationalities which represented who they REALLY were.
Some of them started to nervously joke with each other, trying to move on from what they had just discovered about themselves by pointing out that the person next to them was more 'black' than them. Laughing heartily at their oh-so-witty jokes.
But ultimately what all of them could see was the complete mix of countries making up their core genetics.
And there can be no question that this knowledge helped them in one moment to look at a person with different coloured skin in a new light.
Because my friends, we are all from many places and almost never of pure heritage to the country which we passionately associate ourselves with. Sometimes even to the death!
Out of Africa
I like to tell people this story and remind them also that the human race originates from one little spot in Africa. Thought for years to be Ethiopia, though recent findings indicate older specimens further north. Regardless, it would have been One place. One family. One culture.
But over time the population grew and we spread out across the world, each group developing their own culture & evolving in sync with the environmental factors of their location. Hence the white skin of us Brits and dark skin of Nigerians. Nothing more than a reaction to our different climates.
And the boarders that were put in place to divide us into countries were created not by us the people but by those who seeked to control us.
DEVIDE & CONQUOR - it's the oldest trick in the book.
When I see a stranger in the street I think of them as family now.
This has been difficult for my own 'family' to understand. All I can do is ask them to please not take it personally and remind them that I love ALL my family equally now. Which is a good thing right?
Having witnessed the awesome effects of this DNA test on racist teenagers, I realise now that I too have been affected by the experience.
Historically speaking us humans love to divide ourselves into groups, even within the cultural walls we have created. Just look at football teams and how we club together forming a group with one thing in common. Which ultimately creates friction with other groups.
This is has been prevalent throughout the ages....
Skinheads in the 80s - https://fr.pinterest.com/pin/191403052885169809/
Mods in the 60s - https://forum.ableton.com/viewtopic.php?f=40&t=192231
And whilst there is nothing wrong with this, it is important always to keep hold of the bigger picutre...
WE ARE ALL ONE FAMILY!
And with this in mind, I welcome each and every one of you into my life with open arms as I would any member of my immediate family.
Brothers & Sisters.
We are ONE.
That's me outside my home in Bali at 6am watching the sunrise, embracing every part of who I am :)