Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Legacies of the Olympic Games.

Watching that old film of the two black men who gave the Black Power salute at their medal ceremony and the brave man who joined them by wearing a badge although he was white, it struck me that one legacy of the Olympic Games per se, is how much easier we find it to accept people regardless of their colour. I spent my teaching days in the midlands in a very mixed community. When I started teaching the vast majority of our pupils were fairly recently in from Jamaica and the Caribbean. Later on there was an influx of children from the Punjab - in the case of my school, almost entirely Sikh. So I came up here to North Yorkshire on retirement to find that a lot of country people had hardly seen a black face in reality and I found this quite a shock. And how the Games, particularly when they are in London, has changed all that. Who could fail to be inspired by the three Jamaicans who won the sprint races, or the Ugandan and the Kenyans who won the Marathon. Colour makes no difference at all in theory, although I think a lot of black people would say there is still a fair way to go. But we are becoming a much more multi-racial society and long may that continue. I suppose it won't be fully achieved until we no longer find it necessary to mention a person's colour when we speak of them.

That wonderful woman, Camila Batmanghelidjh, of Kids Company (kidsco.org.uk) writes about the Games in today's Times, about how it is still divisive in that the deprived children of London were taken by busload to see the Olympic Park and were inspired and yet when the tickets came on the market they were just too expensive for these children to consider (apart from one or two Corporations who generously handed over spare tickets for them to use). As she says'the Olympics were a party to which yet again, they were not invited'. She says the real legacy is that we have been inspired by the extraordinary potential to be found in the human form. If you wish to read to whole article, do read it in the Times - it is quite inspiring.

The Paralympics will be with us shortly and yet again, that is another area where prejudice is beginning to fade at long last, where young people can face the world without the risk of being stared at for being 'different'. I live near to Catterick Garrison and they have recently opened a unit for those brave young men who have been badly injured in Afghanistan. This morning in my weekly visit to Tesco, I was inspired to see a couple of young men with prosthetic legs shopping in the aisles, laughing and joking. No-one took the slightest bit of notice of them. I felt like going up and giving them both a hug and then I thought that they would be embarrassed and of course, it would show that I was not accepting them for what they were - just two young men shopping in Tesco.

It's a funny old world.

##Camila's article concludes by asking if Kids Company could have the beds and other goods from the Olympic Village. Hundreds of their children have no bed to sleep on. Makes you think, doesn't it?


Elizabeth said...

Interesting thoughts. I feel that the Olympics were very energizing and that the women got almost as much attention as the men this time!

Heather said...

Another thought provoking post Pat. I would have felt the same as you seeing those young men in Tesco just as I always want to thank the much older veterans for my safe and happy childhood.
It has struck me how many of our medals have been won by black athletes. Thankyou to all of them.

Reader Wil said...

A pity that these children were not able to be at the games themselves, because the tickets were to expensive.

MorningAJ said...

There's still a lot of gender bias in the Olympics so there's still a long way to go for full equality. (Men aren't allowed to take part in the synchronised swimming, for example.) And there was so much fuss over one token Saudi Arabian woman runner, even though her inclusion will make no real change to conditions for women in that country.

When South Africa refused to give blacks and whites equal rights they were banned from the Olympics. Why are we not doing the same for countries that oppress their women?

John Going Gently said...

many of my former patients from the spinal injury unit will be taking part in the para olympics... many of them ex service men

Cloudia said...

Such a wise post, Weaver! Growing up in Philadelphia I came to expect many colors about. Places without that diversity have always been a tad 'artificial' feeling to me. Yes, sport has helped - as has proximity. Of course, now I live in the very haven of diversity and when elsewhere I have felt a 'lack" when surrounded mostly by white, black, Hispanic..

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Virginia said...

That reminds me of teaching 5 year-olds in an impoverished area. We were reading a book that aimed to teach left - right reading order. Each page was answered with Yes ... No . We got to a page that said "I have a bed. Y..N" and one of the little ones said "No" to which I said "Yes, you have a bed, it's where you sleep!" The kids said, "No. I sleep on the couch but sometimes dad lets me sleep with him." There weren't enough beds in that house. I've never forgotten my dismay - there were four spare beds in our home, and here was a family without beds for the children. The world is not a fair place. I do hope some of those Olympic beds go to those in need.

ArcticFox said...

I think with these games in particular it showed just how far we still have to go..... let's face it, we're a long way down the line from the days of suffrage, yet we're still only just accepting women in certain sports....
Also re: the soldiers in the supermarket - I am sure they'd appreciate anyone giving their support to show their appreciation for their efforts and sacrifices.

The Weaver of Grass said...

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