Is it wrong to speak a different language?
That’s almost like asking why we don’t live in a world that’s black and white. Well if you need the answer to that, it’s because you and I don’t want to live in a bland, boring and dull world.
A fellow journalism friend once asked me how I would define culture. My reply was:
“Culture is something to be shared and for others to be immersed in, it’s what we do when we travel. We go to explore different cultures and places, to learn about them and they can be life-changing experiences, providing new insight. Why paint a blank canvas with just one color when you can paint and diffuse it with all these different ones and fuse them together to create something lively?”
Different languages, customs, food – culture is an important factor to our lives. It gives us opportunities to keep discovering new things, to be open-minded and find understanding.
We’re about to enter 2017 and our world still faces numerous issues; we’re also living in a digital age.
YouTube is one of the biggest entertainment platforms. Without it, we couldn’t binge watch videos, surfing around till we realise it’s 3AM. But what it has enabled is for us to see and hear things from someone else’s perspective. If an event happens on the other side of the world, we can easily find a first-hand witness account and it’ll be authentic.
If you know me, then you’ll know that I binge watch Vloggers and YouTubers. My favorites are the pranks. You’ve got your classics, but when you’re competing for views, you want something new or innovated, not to mention genuine. It’s not unknown for some to publish content that’s set up or that involve employed actors.
Recently #boycottdelta was trending worldwide on Twitter. If you haven’t heard about the story here’s the basis of it: YouTube star Adam Saleh was kicked off a Delta airline flight after defending his friend and fellow YouTuber Slim Albaher, after being told by a passenger to speak English because she felt uncomfortable that they were speaking Arabic.
Watch the videos below to see both their accounts:
As the hashtag trended and the videos racked up views, many articles were written, painting the star as a victim or accusing him of setting the incident up because he is a known prankster. Furthermore, in an occurrence like this, it centres around the issue of racism.
Controversy will remain over this. Now, it’s been alleged that the YouTubers have been forced to say they faked the incident, while others are skeptical
that a high-profile company would play along.
The truth is something to be debated but right now, the essence of what needs to be taken away from this whole story is one thing:
Whether this is a real or staged incident, we can’t ignore that it touches on an issue that has prevailed for centuries and realistically, it’s one that’ll exist generations onwards.
Whether this Delta experience is a social experiment or not, what it has made is a social statement that highlights the time of racism we currently live in. While many may write to take this story with a grain of salt, I want to focus on this event isolated from what we know about Saleh, what people did right or wrong and about whether they spoke up.
I want to focus on this; though it’s been said that 2016 is no place for racism, the progress we’ve made in modern society is small and racism is yet to cease. Since Brexit, hate crime in the UK has increased nearly 50%. A string of attacks occurred this year, most notably in France and Belgium. Aleppo has been caught up in turmoil and devastation. The Afghanistan, Syrian Civil and Iraq war is still ongoing, as are nearly 50 other armed conflicts. Many other conflicts and polarisations exist presently. All have played factors into building stereotypes, views and stigmas.
It’ll be naive to want a world where there are no opinions. We are bound to have differences, whether on small or big scales. The stem of many conflicts run deep, comprehensively they carry the one word – differences.
In the mist of Adam Saleh’s Delta experience, this is what I think: Fear is a powerful emotion. It feeds many things, whether it is paranoia or our opinions. A woman felt uncomfortable because two men were speaking a different language, whether it’s because it’s one associated with radical groups or because she didn’t like the tone and gestures that culturally came with the language, is unclear to us. The two accused spoke out about how they felt uncomfortable that they were being judged and made to leave for speaking a different language, and all this is put down to racism. What I see is a story that highlights the judgement of differences in environments with societal norms influenced by events in the world.
At the beginning of this article, I asked if it was wrong to speak a different language? It shouldn’t be. Yet for some people, they may feel safer in today’s society to speak the dominant language of a country in fear of being stereotyped or judged differently, because others fear them for what their appearances and cultural customs are negatively associated with.
Furthermore, issues of the past are now carried into the digital age we live in and onto
the digital platforms that have become available to us. YouTube may be one example that shows how technology has enabled us to see and experience events for ourselves. What we have to remember is that it doesn’t show us everything. We have reality. An individual’s perspective of an event uploaded to the web can be countered by many others at the same event, all of which are a story of their own and while we see what they do, we don’t experience what they do.
This is 2016. What will happen in 2017?