This is where the party ends/I can't stand here listening to you

November 04, 2010

Last night we went out with our American friend Oberion and his lovely wife. Oberion often comes to the UK on business and his company sorts out his hotel accommodation, but this time he'd booked it himself.

He was telling us an anecdote about the hotel he'd booked, which was in King's Cross, and which turned out to be rather less salubrious than the hotels he was accustomed to.

Mattgreen and I said that lots of London was like that, but that he'd only been in the nice bits. Then I piped up, "What about Brixton? That's scary! I can remember being on the tube to Brixton and as you got closer, all the white people got off, and by the time I got there I was the only white person left and felt genuinely scared".

It didn't really occur to me as I was saying it, but afterwards I thought, bloody hell that sounds incredibly racist.

Now, I haven't been to Brixton in years - the main purpose of going there was to go to gigs at Brixton Academy, so the times when I was scared I was probably a lone 17-year-old girl in a mini skirt and slutty red lipstick, so I probably wouldn't be that worried any more. But it's been bothering me all day. Why did being the only white person on a train scare me?

I guess it's like turning up to a male friend's birthday at the pub and finding you're the only woman there and feeling nervous that you're going to get hassled by leery pissed blokes. Or maybe it's like people getting nervous after 7/7 when they saw people with big rucksacks on the tube. Or like getting into a taxi alone late at night and finding yourself going a very strange route to your destination. You know you shouldn't be worried, but you can't help it that you are.

you're right... you know you shouldn't be worried, but you just can't help it. The problem is the evil media ;-) they hammer into us that we should feel at risk about food, safety etc etc, and so we do. My brother actually lived in Brixton for some time and I stayed there for a few weeks and have to say, it was fine. In actual fact your comment 'why did being the only white person on a train scare me?' has made me think too. I'm not a racist at all, but I guess I too would feel somewhat on edge. Once I was in Phoenix and I was on a bus heading further and further out of town and experienced a similar situation. I remember feeling genuinely uneasy and scared... I don't know why really. I guess because all over the news they were highlighting shootings and robberies in those areas. Evil evil media, god I'm glad I don't have a TV! I eat freely, I walk around freely and I just live in complete ignorance!!! ha ha. I am now going to ponder your post for the rest of the evening x
Just think, that is how non whites feel every day in this country, travelling on the tube or bus or train feeling uneasy. I think fear of non whites has more to do with your personal life experiences, ie your parents outlook and if they had black friends, their attitudes to black people and where you grew up.
I disagree! I don't think (most) non-whites do feel uneasy on a day-to-day basis! I think it's more a confidence issue to be honest.

And I'm certainly not afraid of people from other races in a more general context, just when I'm vastly outnumbered. I'd feel exactly the same if it was me and 50 men, and I'm not afraid of men either ;) That was the point I was trying to make.

Weirdly, I think my life experiences have actually made me less racist because I grew up with people from literally dozens of other countries. My education abroad was probably more diverse than most schools here!

I think what I was trying to say is that I feel uncomfortable being different to everyone else, whether that's on the grounds of race, gender, or probably other things as well. I think most people do.
That's what I was trying to say. Your racial heritage is certainly the most apparent visual difference and people make assumptions about you based on your appearance, this has to come from somewhere and I don't think it is the media but from intergenerational beliefs which have their origins in the Victorian stereotyping of race, gender, intellect etc.

Most educated people can decipher and deduce what is 'media hysteria' from intelligent journalist coverage and the hysteria mostly comes from your conservative tabloid shite like the Daily Mail or the Sun. They produce information that they cannot cite and in effect the information printed could have been made up by a monkey. That's not journalism, that's feeding peoples xenophobia.

I can only speak from my experiences of talking to non white people. I do have one example. Someone we both know was standing in the street saying goodbye to her sister, someone pulled up in a car behind them and was held up for about 20 seconds before winding down the window and telling them to move, saying to them, and I quote 'you lot are always slow and lazy'. That is just one example that I have, I reckon that most non white people in this country have a similar story and possibly several.

I know you do not think in a racist way but when you were abroad you were a child and not dealing with 'joe public' on a daily basis, you didn't go to the local school or mix with the local children or wider society, you were there simply as a short stay visitor. The local people closest to you were your parents household employees. I'm talking about the experiences of those non whites born and bred in Britain. It is variable globally and usually culturally specific. Non white people have to deal with prejudice shit on a regular basis, just because we don't see it, doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Why would we see it? We're not black!
I keep meaning to post again on here to say my bit and then forgetting because we talked about it on the phone!

But I think that the problem is that the majority of racists are not well-educated people, and that's why the media are able to incite racial hatred. It's the Daily Mail reading masses who just blindly believe what they read in the paper - it's difficult to get them to change their minds because they're not the sort of people I know, let alone choose to associate with. And even if I did, I'm not sure they would really take on board my arguments.

I do agree with you that intergenerational beliefs have a huge role too, although generally the more educated are able to move away from what their parents thought. And I also agree that sadly, most non-whites have experienced racial abuse, but equally most gays have experienced homophobia. I know you think that racism is "worse" because it's more visible, but intolerance is intolerance regardless of the form it takes.

As far as I'm concerned education is the only way to reduce it, and I do believe that we're taking steps towards that in this country. I certainly think the younger generation are less racist and less homophobic and that can only be a good thing :)
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