Why have we not seen an end to racism
Its the year 2013 in the US there is a black man in the white house for a 2nd term and the state of Mississippi have finally ratified the 13th amendment (the one that bans slavery) admittedly 147 years after it became federal law. Yet the spectre of racism still looms over some sections of society both over there and closer to home.
Just to give you a little background to my own history and experiences of racism. I’m of mixed racial heritage born and raised un England, I’m light skinned with loose curly hair and have spent most of my life being mistaken for various different races. Even as an infant my family and me faced abuse because of my race, I lived with my mother and Grandparents and some people took it for some reason to be offended to the fact that my mother had a mixed race child. They put a padlock on our gate to try to keep us in because they felt we were no better then animals and wrote offensive graffiti about my mother and me on the garages at the back of our house.
Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s it was almost natural to face abuse at some point or another from a girl I was close to telling me we couldn’t date “because her parents wouldn’t like the colour of my skin” to me and my friends having abuse hurled at us and drinks chucked at us by some kids in the year above us at a school disco. Or not being allowed entrance to a friends birthday party because no place for our sort. Having people shout outside your house “there’s only one wog in whitehouse”. Having your corporal spit in your face and call you a “coon” in the army cadets. These are some of the issues we faced growing up.
It hasn’t just been verbal abuse as I’ve said being light skinned has meant I’m often mistaken for other races, me and some friends were attacked in town center by so people who bragged about giving some “paki a kicking” I was slashed with a knife by someone who thought I was french and also been chased by someone welding a baseball bat calling us f***ing n*gers.
My experience with agency’s that should know better were to say the least disappointing. I expressed an interest in joining the army and was told I that even though there is no official colour bar I wouldn’t be allowed to join any guards regiments because of my colour. I looked to a possible future within the police force I became a special constable. While a special I was away on a residential training course dealing with riot training. Forces from all over the country were attending and we as specials were playing the role of the rioters. At the end of the day we would all go to the bar afterwards. I was taken to one side by an Officer from suffolk police who told me some Officer’s from Lincolnshire police had said I was a “uppity N**ger who needed to be taught a lesson” I was shocked that firstly this was the 1990’s not the 1790’s and was amazed people would still use those expressions. This also left me questioning these people are meant to be protecting all members of society if they felt that way about me while I was serving as a special how would they react to black members of the public.
Now society has moved on racism is not as accepted by most members of the public and statements that would not have raised an eyebrow in the past are now frowned upon. But it is still there not just bubbling beneath the surface but pretty damn near to the top as examples from the sport of football and you tube clips of rants on tubes have shown us. We often hear the argument its only words and name calling why is such a fuss being made. To put it like this if the effects of racist language becomes a subconscious thought if the its only words its not racism is seen as socially acceptable and starts to go unchallenged and dismissed this will have a dehumanising effect on some of society.
So yes we have come along way and yes there is a long way to go. I used to say I hope my son doesn’t face what I have and sadly he has had to face prejudice and hate. We can’t ignore the far right and it is well known that Racist sentiment goes up in times of recession and these people these groups will try to exploit others to spread their message of hate and their own agenda.
Will we ever see an end to racism I don’t know but remember when the thought of a black president was just a dream and I’m sure I’m not the only one who has dreamed of an end to racism.