I remember being about 6 and someone in my class calling me a Paki…even then i was aware of the inanity of that comment, as most people can’t – deffo couldn’t then, tell i was half Indian…and as i pointed out, isn’t a Paki from Pakistan? Cue idiotic rage from child…
What has changed? That 6 year old, whose name or face i cannot remember, hopefully learnt something from that bitter sting of realism. Hopefully, he or she, for I can’t even remember their gender, questioned the usage of that word being uttered, from their parents lips and whether it was actually acceptable or not. Hopefully, they evolved further than their parents or peers or whoever it was that made it acceptable for them to speak like that, in anger and aggression towards another child.
Or, maybe, like unfortunately too many, they have internalised those words. Not thought enough about the subtle knife behind those innocent utterings and just grown up to realise it is not acceptable to speak them out loud.
I feel like i lived in a bubble for too many years. Surrounded by artistic, creative, lefty types who would NEVER use vulgar language such as this and whose politics are so right on that it has felt like a utopian commune. But it has been a bubble. Most of my friends are very middle classed. And have therefore had the privilege of the bias the educational system gives them, the bias that being generally valued in society gives them and so therefore…they are free from the constraints put upon most marginalised groups. Free to vote remain because….they have the backdrop of feeling comfortable enough with the world of politics to go balls deep into it and try to understand it for themselves. Free to discuss politics with a group of other creative liberals for whom oppression is not much more than an abstract 10 letter word. Because then it is a subject and one which carries a huge weight in regards kudos to have knowledge of. Free from the pain of poverty and othering…this saps more energy than you’d think.
Meanwhile. As the gap between rich and poor deepens, gets wider. The scapegoating of ‘non indigenous Britons’, coming over here, stealing our jobs, whilst at the same time bleeding the benefits system dry, becomes more and more ingrained.
Us v them. Except i am ultimately on the side of them. This panic about European migration is just subtext for general xenophobia. For most. Not all. And yea, that xenophobia comes from above, that shit trickles downhill, not up. And polite, white, middle classed, creative communities are NOT exempt from that. You who enjoy the tokenism and curios of the odd dance-hall/ragga tune but balk or smirk at the sight of a big black woman in full dance-hall regalia. You who are just so fascinated with my hair, cos it’s really bouncy, can i touch it, oh you’re touching it already. You who post consistently about the ravages of the environment and animal rights and the dumbing down of British culture but i never see you post on stuff to do with racial inequalities. Too scared to comment on posts about that even….You who consistently try to play devils advocate when i try to discuss race or class divisions – cos it is just too uncomfortable to accept they exist. You who mock or look down upon the vernacular of the working classed or of black/asian youth – cos, it’s not ‘proper’, is it?
You have fed the vote to leave, as much as govt’ wrangling and lies. And I am sick of it.
Racism is racism. Whether overt or covert. Not enough has been done to tackle the root causes of it, in fact, it would seem sometimes that we all, whatever our colour, culture, socio-economic background, we all have been geared towards this point, just in different ways. We have been divided and set up to fail. I am not pointing a finger at any groups in particular, although it may seem like i am. But please folks…can we accept we are ALL in this together and find a way of dismantling this shit? That means all of us looking at our flaws and weak spots and dogmatism.