I am a… New Series in the JEP

This column came about through a discussion with the editor regarding the opinions of some columnists in the Jersey Evening Post that many people from minority groups in the Island find extremely offensive.

Although it would be desirable to many in these groups for these columnists to recant their views, they have a right to hold and express them in a society that values freedom of speech. Respecting that right and agreeing with the opinion expressed are two different things, of course.

Whenever we offer a public opinion about a group of people to which we do not belong, we need to be aware of our own privilege in proffering that opinion. Are we part of a majority group in society, which enjoys and expects a certain birth right? Is the group to which we belong the group that makes the rules by which everyone else is expected to play? Are we speaking from a platform that someone from a minority group could not, or would find difficult to, attain? Do we really know what it feels like to be part of a minority who, because of an accident of birth, may face prejudice and discrimination on a daily basis?

Jersey is an extremely homogeneous place demographically. If you are non-British, BAME, LGBT+, registered as having a physical or mental disability, under 20 or over 60, a carer to someone other than a child, a problem drug user, or a member or ex-member of the prison population, there are less than 20% of people like you in Jersey and, in some cases, less than 5%.

So, how do those from a minority group in Jersey get the things they need, which may be very different from the things the majority need? They have to educate and persuade those who hold power (in its broadest sense) to grant it. That is the difference between being part of the privileged and being part of a group who do not enjoy such privileges.

This is the first of a series of columns that will provide a platform from which minority voices in Jersey may articulate what it is like to be part of their particular group, what issues concern them and what they would like to see changed about Jersey that would make it a more inclusive place for them to live and work.

In order to give contributors the confidence to voice their opinions, all contributors writing under this banner will be anonymous. The editor agreed to this exceptional promise because, without it, finding people from minorities willing to speak openly and publicly about their experiences is extremely difficult.

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