Racism in the UK: How I see it.
We see headlines of police in the US shooting black people without reason and Donald Trump saying terrible things about blacks and Latinas. Over here in the UK many people feel quite good about themselves because they believe that sort of stuff is not happening here. However, what many don’t realise is that racism is still a huge issue and with a few anecdotes I am going to explain why.
All over the world British people are seen as quietly polite and would never outwardly express any sort of racist comment or action. However, I am sorry to say we are not exempt from this. It takes nothing more than a disapproving look or a tactical seat move on the tube to show that you are the other, you don’t belong here. It may seem small to you, but very easily noticed. Now, this is actually a real thing, and it’s called covert racism. Covert racism is a form of racial discrimination that is disguised and subtle, rather than public or obvious. Concealed in the fabric of society, covert racism discriminates against individuals through often unnoticeable or seemingly passive methods. A personal example is me, a black girl getting picked up by my European nanny from prep school and trotting off down the road in my private school uniform, and I asked myself, why did I constantly get stares and puzzled looks? Because the stereotype of black people is that we are poor and can’t send their children to the best schools. Now I understand why only 17.2% of students from ethnic minorities received an offer to attend Oxford compared with 25.7% of white applicants compared who achieved the exact same A-level grades. It is because we are not used to seeing young black people at the top universities and it all stems from that one look.
Another quite funny anecdote comes from my favourite grime rapper Stormzy. Last year Stormzy moved into his new house in Chelsea. On Valentine’s Day his house was raided by Police and dogs after it was mistakenly reported he was burgling his own home. What?! Just because I black man moves into a house and Chelsea doesn’t mean he stole it! Obviously, we don’t know if this incident had racial background, but I ask this. Would the same thing have happened if it was a white person?
Colourism and Children.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve woken up, looked in the mirror and thought, I am black. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing but why is that the only thing I think about, as I’m sure that’s not how other people think. In a way I wish that I grew up like the rest of my cousins in Barbados or in Lagos or like my Nigerian friends, so I would have been surrounded by people like me. Western culture has this obsession with light skinned women, Rihanna, Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj and I’m not complaining, many of you will know I would die for Badgalriri but as the same time why do we not idolise dark skinned women in the same way?
Throughout my childhood I wanted to be lighter and have straight hair my view on beauty has always been the same as societies, Eurocentric. Why do people only appreciate black beauty when it’s a little less black. I do understand that for many black women straightening their hair or wearing weaves is for a matter of convenience but sometimes our beautiful ‘fros get lost. I will always remember my little cousin crying about leaving the house with her hair upbraided because she was embarrassed about her afro and I don’t want that for my kids. The question is how so we change this?
This is an issue very close to my heart because my grandparents came to the UK from Barbados and my mum always says, “Grandma and Grandad would never have met if they didn’t come to the UK!”. Now, my grandad is in the country perfectly legally and with the right documents, but he is part of that Windrush generation. In case you don’t already know, the Windrush generation is the men and women who were invited to the UK to help them rebuild after the horrors of the World Wars. But this mass immigration started before this, men from the Caribbean were asked to join allied troops on the front line during both wars. Even after colonisation and after slavery they came and supported the ‘mother country’ due to their high levels of commitment and patriotism. It is due to the freedom of movement act for countries of the Commonwealth that after the war my people came from the Caribbean and began to settle their families here. And for the most part everything was okay, Caribbean people were integrating into British society of course with some backlash but nothing they couldn’t handle. Flash forward to 2018, and they are now being asked if they are actually British citizens as The Home Office did not keep a record of those granted leave to remain or issue any paperwork confirming it - meaning it is difficult for Windrush arrivals to prove they are in the UK legally. The fact is people are being denied cancer treatment and fired from their jobs because of changes to the immigration laws in 2012, under Theresa May as Home Secretary.
Now, it is easy for the government to apologise but that is not enough. These are people’s lives at stake and it makes me think that could easily be my family being ripped at the seams and through no fault of their own. It is no one’s fault that they are born the way they are, but it seems to me, all these years later that black people are still suffering from being black and I don’t know how we are going to change that. Hopefully I’ll be able to get back to you when I know the answer.
P.S. This is entirely based on my own experiences and my opinion. If you disagree with something I have said I am sorry but that is just how I see it as a black girl, but I hope you can appreciate my personal spin on the argument.