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.
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 ?