Wednesday, 22 February 2012

A Serious Blog Post.

Regular readers of my blog ( if, indeed, such people exist ) have probably come to expect silly stories and nostalgic tales of childhood or dog shows. I never enter the political arena or voice an opinion on current affairs. I prefer to leave the important issues to people better qualified in such matters and far more eloquent than myself.
However, I suddenly feel inspired to throw my hat into the ring and risk losing all my readers by writing a short blog post about the incendiary subject of  Racism.
This is something I abhor with a passion that borders on obsession !

I live in a very multicultural part of  Britain and the Asian culture has integrated well with white culture. There are also people of Chinese and Afro-Caribbean origins and they all add a cosmopolitan air to the area and, I think, we are all the better for it. However, I myself have experienced racial hatred and prejudice !
        " Aha," I hear you shout, " I knew it ! Trouble with Asians and Chinese and Caribbean people !!"
Well, you would be wrong ! I have never had any problems with those ethnic groups, in fact I have always enjoyed a mutually friendly relationship with all, embracing their customs, learning as much as I can, sharing recipes and exchanging dishes of food and generally  making friends.
So how can I, a white, Protestant lady, born South of  Watford have ever experienced racism or hatred ?

Well, firstly we have the North/South divide. I was born in the South of England, Brighton to be exact, but I have lived in many areas of Britain, mainly in the North. So I have experienced prejudice and distrust and bullying in every area I have lived, because I was  'different'. I had a different accent, an alternative way of doing things; my Southern  'lunch' was the North's  'dinner', my  'supper' is an informal dinner but to others it is a snack before bed  and , of course, when I go South and mention  'snickets' and 'becks' there are blank looks all around. All seemingly trivial differences but all the cause of sniggers and ridicule and insults.
I am now a sort of  'Stateless' person, belonging to neither camp, but I do slant my allegiance more to the North than the South............ so am I guilty of racism ?

However, the cruellest racism began when we moved to Scotland in the 1970s. I was so excited about moving to that beautiful country as I thought that every Scottish person I had ever met was wonderful and my surname is Scottish, as my husband's father was a Scot and was a soldier in the  Black Watch . His father before him had been in the  Highland Light Infantry, how much more Scottish could we get ? Well, my optimism was certainly misplaced, we were hated !  Many of the locals used to revert to the 'Doric' dialect whenever I entered a shop so I couldn't understand a word they were saying. We were laughed at and openly  abused verbally and my children - one of whom was actually born in Scotland - were bullied and victimised at school. My husband worked offshore, in the oil industry and also experienced racial abuse, it was all very distressing and unpleasant and so, so unnecessary.
Now I am not trying to suggest that we were treated so abysmally by every Scot, in fact I made some wonderful friends in the 15 years we were there ,and we have remained friends to this day. But sadly, it only takes a  few prejudiced people to create unhappiness and distress, just as it only takes a few people to start an inner city race riot.
And so, my wish is this; that everyone would think twice before despising the different, unusual, quirky or strange. How would they feel if they were victimised because they had blonde hair or wore red shoes. Hatred is hatred, however you try to dress it up in disguises of colour or religion. It is ignorance and fear and distrust of anyone who is 'different' and yet we are all the same under the skin. As Shylock, another victimised person, said,
             " If you prick us, do we not bleed ?"
Until we conquer the suspicion and prejudice between different areas of Britain we will never conquer the huge issues of colour and religion.


Footnote.
I hope I have not upset or insulted anyone in the above article, that is certainly not my intention. I still remain completely open-minded and do not hate anyone because of religious or racial differences or the fact that they live in Scotland or Wales or Australia. I just wish everyone else felt the same....................perhaps one day ?

11 comments:

  1. What a fantastic post! its about time that other forms of Racism were mentioned. When I was little I was invited into the house of my friend - she was Asian, and they cooked me dinner, and it was a fantastic cultural and learning experience. They saw the person, not the colour, not how I speak, or anything else... they were kind. why dont people still do that? why do they not see a the heart of someone rather than the way they speak, or act or what they do for a living (yes ive had problems with that too - until I put my Dog Collar on.. then all things change!!!) we are all the same... just wrapped differently with our own individuality, thank god!!! :)

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  2. Thank you so much Cheryl. I'm so pleased that you agree with me. Unfortunately prejudice wears many hats.

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  3. Terrific blog hun,and I don't see how anyone could be offended by anything you've said. I too as a hated 'Brit' in a very backward area of rural Ireland have met with suspicion,distrust and insults. Anyone who moves here is regarded as a "hippie" luckily for me though I see that as a compliment rather than an insult! #ProudToBeAHippy

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  4. Thank you for your comment Lucy and how sad to hear that you have also experienced racism. Why oh why can't people live and let live ?

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    1. PS I would also consider it a compliment if I was called a hippy ! Long live hippies !!

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  5. Oh, Rosie, as Lucy says, I don't see how anyone could be upset or insulted by this wonderful article of yours; but if they are, then they damn well deserve to be.

    Being Anglo-Indian, myself (with ancestors from Stockport and Goa), I've had my share of racism. Now, though, I'd tend to let it wash over me. I haven't experienced racism for a while – the last time I remember was at a ukrainian club when I played a gig there – but if somebody is going to be racist to me, then I know they're not worth a second thought.

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    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comment, Matt. I think racism is the most dreadful crime and is so pointless.
      I am sorry to hear that you have also suffered but, as you say, such ignorant people are not worth worrying about.

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  6. I am Scottish and I am upset by your blog. Not by what you say but because this happened to you in my country!! We always forget the 'hidden' racism / bullying, we only seem to look at the more obvious situations. Like you I have never ever understood why there are so many people of all races/religions/colour/whatever who have such a basic hatred of other people just because of one of the above reasons, yet call themselves Christian, or whichever religion they might be. It makes as much sense to me as hating everyone with red hair (I know this is big bullying issue) with freckles, taller than a certain height,has blue eyes. It is the person inside who matters, nothing else. Treat others the way you wish to be treated yourself, is not a bad way to live.

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    1. Thank you for commenting Jackie and I'm glad I haven't offended you. Luckily, not all people are unkind, I like to think they are in the minority and that most people are as lovely as you.

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  7. I have only found that sort of anti english people thing in Aberdeen.I was spat at on a bus and ignored in shops but when I have been to Inverness, the Black Isle etc always been treated fine.I think in Aberdeen they dislike anyone who isn't Doric, people from the Islands or Glasgow also got called names .I worked in India, voluntary work, in the 70's and no one ever called me Whitey or said anything bad to me. Says a lot really.
    I have friends of all nationalities and have seen racism fist hand, was even called a "Paki Lover" by some BNPs once when I worked in an International Centre. There are good and bad people in every nation and I think we need more people to be exposed to other nationalities and ways of life so that they see that and accept others better .Not all muslims are terrorists , not all English people are stiff and unemotional.Its the stereotypes that follow us around and incite racism sometimes.I am going back to live in Scotland because I won't let a few Aberdonians put me off! It is a beautiful country.

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    1. Thank you hun ! Yes, this did occur in Aberdeen. I haven't let it put me off and still visit that beautiful country and see my lovely Scottish friends, who all seem to agree about Aberdeenshire.
      But how ridiculous to dislike people just because they are from another part of the same country, let alone different parts of the world. I would love to live in Scotland again, but not Aberdeen !! I hope youwill be happy in your new home, I am envious. X x x

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