The Complexities of Modern Racism In Britain

While on a night out in the capital, a guy in a club put his beer bottle in my face expecting me to take it from him, when I moved away he promptly followed continuing to try and give me his bottle. His friends seem bemused and didn’t try to defuse the situation; seconds later I saw the guy go over to the side and put his seemingly empty bottle on a ledge; on his return he attempted to elbow me in the face, had I not been leaning in to talk my friend he may not have missed!
Unfortunately my reaction was delayed although I guess its better that I didn’t escalate the situation further.  Considering the offender was white and that at the time I was probably the only black girl in the club, I couldn’t stop thinking whether this happened because I was black?
I wasn’t alone I was with friends who were white and also in closer proximity to the guy then I was so why me?

I don’t like to use the ‘R’ word loosely since modern day racism is quite complex; we are all guilt of harbouring prejudices about a person(s) height, weight, appearance, hair colour, nationality, etc yet we all have a friend or get along with someone who are exceptions to the rule. Those who may hold prejudices against a particular race may not be actively racist (which is why context is key), I would consider the difference being that to be racist denotes oppressive tactics, like bullying, intimidation or denying an individual or race access to resources.

I have always believed that everyone is entitled to their opinion no matter how ignorant it maybe, however modern day pressures have stops those with such opinions to be open about them, hence the resent shock when fashion designer John Galliano and celebrity hairdresser James Brown expressed their racist views after having a little too much to drink!

I find this concerning, as like what me happened to me I will never be clear as to what the guys motives were, was he a racist or just drunk and me unlucky? This infliction of unexplainable abuse can be equally as corrosive to a person’s sense of self!
Thinking back to a recent Black History Month event I attended, where a woman in the audience regaled her childhood growing up in London in the 50s having migrated from the West Indies with her parents. She remembered being bullied at school by her teachers, called a monkey, told she was stupid and constantly made an example of in a classroom where she was the only ethnic child.
It’s a very sad story and even sadder to know that this kind of abuse was common practice at the time, and since it was used so neutrally a child as small as she was at the time, didn’t realise the full extent of the abuse nor did she ever flag it up to her parents!

I refused to let the stupid guy spoil my night, though I do wish I’d asked him what his problem was, not that he would have answered honestly! Though it does make me think whether the political correctness era of the last 2 decades has only served to hinder Britain’s prospects of achieving racial equally.
The fact is 20-30 years ago this country was opening racist and derogative terms like ‘Paki’ and ‘nigga’ were popularly used with no remorse, now fast forward to present day were we are surprised to hear someone express a blatant racist comment (like in the case of
Brian True-May’s comments on British/Englishness). 
This naivety created by political correctness that racism was somehow magically eradicated is in its self a time bomb waiting to go off.  The explosive racist reactions to the recent UK riots serve as a good example of this, take the outlandish comments made by David Starkey on the BBC’s Question Time around the time of the riots!

The task of improving race relations in this country seems harder now the basic understanding of racism has evolved with the times, making it much harder to be identified.  Another important factor in the fight against racism, which I often feel is often over looked is the global racial attitudes/reactions. Think about it, while black Americans where having their Civil Rights Movement in the 60s, blacks all over the world were organising similar liberation movements, with many of the black organisations in Britain, South Africa and America connecting to battle their oppressors.

Racism didn’t end in America with the Civil Rights Movement nor did it end in Britain after the Broadwater Farm Riots of 85, what is important for our progression is to maintain a continual racial dialogue and stop sweeping the issue under the rug!
We need to acknowledge racism still exists and that it continues to affect the life’s of those who are classed an ethnic minority.
It may not be the most effective measure of progress though unlike America or even South Africa, England (or even Europe) is still no closer to having a black Prime Minister!


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