When someone says to me that "Apparently, in 150 years time there will be no white people left in the UK", I am stuck for any response other than a) don't be ridiculous or b) who cares? but part of me thinks that I should be itching for a debate on the matter, although debating with a racist and xenophobe is probably a non-starter anyway.
Now in my 3rd year of my degree, I feel as though I have learned enough to have opinions on such subjects, but not enough to debate them. It's a strange and slightly irritating in-between position, and as they say 'a little knowledge is a dangerous thing'. Also, what I know is only what I've been told - and who's to say that it's all correct and not just someone's opinion? But unless you are the one who has personally done the research, I suppose that most knowledge is just that, a repeat of what you've been taught.
Despite all I have learned about class and inequality and social justice, when I go out I can feel myself switching back to my old self. The prejudices and stereotypes which have built up over 45 years, based on what peers or the public or the media have said, are hard to shake. But the difference now is that I recognise those prejudices in myself, when I see a group of people from the council estate and stereotype them into bike-stealers, I realise I am doing it. That's not to say that I'll leave my bike unlocked, but now I understand more about the background to those ideas and labels.
It's very easy to get sucked into the common conceptions (and misconceptions) about groups and types of people. It's part of the social 'lubricant' not to be the one who is always standing out from the crowd or disagreeing with what everyone else thinks. (So, how many of the others are doing the same thing and just agreeing for an easy life?)
I wonder whether I will ever get to the point where I see things differently without the conscious effort. And whether I'll ever be able to hold a debate with someone about contentious subjects such as migrants and the relative populations of the UK...