Racism in Britain

I just watched the My Tram video. Quite frankly, I’m not in any way surprised.

For those that don’t know what it is, or would prefer not to watch, it’s two minutes and 26 seconds of a woman’s tirade against foreigners in my Britain, on “my tram”. (Likely most of the targets were as British as the woman, albeit a much greater asset to the country.) The footage is made up of wall-to-wall expletives and racist abuse, throughout which a small child sits on her lap. The child doesn’t flinch at the tirade, suggesting that perhaps he’s used to both the tone and the content of the woman’s rant. (That, to me, is the most troubling aspect of the video.)

Racism is rife in the UK. Whether or not John Terry racially abused Anton Ferdinand on 23 October remains to be seen. (For what it’s worth having seen the footage, my view is that he didn’t.) But the subsequent chants of hordes of Chelsea fans were undoubtedly filled with racial hatred.

Some time ago, a colleague of my dad’s, while I joined them for a beer, was less vociferous yet similarly derogatory about Korean people in Croydon. I gave my apologies and left; my dad followed suit.

Usually the racism is confined to situations in which there are no people of ethnic background to offend. After all, racism amongst a bunch of white people can cause no offence, right? But on occasions, likely more frequent than many would like to admit, overt racial abuse is aimed at the targets themselves, as was the case in the video.

With a mixed-race daughter, I am probably more conscious than the average person about racial prejudice. I will always be making sure that she is aware of and proud of her heritage. And I will always strive to pick up on prejudice and either avoid it or stop it.

She will suffer racism in her life, without a doubt. But my role is to ensure that she knows that any such behaviour, abusive, active or passive, is not a reflection on her, but a reflection on the person dishing it out. She needs to be fully aware of racism, while at the same time I need to strive to protect her from it. That is my job.

The woman on the tram has merely served to increase further my awareness of just how close we are to such vociferous and toxic views.


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