The Patch

March 3, 2007

Saturday 3rd March 2007

Filed under: Miscellany,Politics — Ames @ 12:33 pm

Disclaimer: I am not racist. Infact, if you have read some of my previous articles, you will know that I am very much against discrimination in any shape or form. This article, therefore, is not intended to be racist, or said with malice towards anyone. Nor does this article reflect the views of The Patch in general, so if you have any problems with it, get annoyed with me and not the blog. I also have to admit that this article may be more of a rant than a piece with any real point to it, so I apologise for this in advance. Now, with all that said, I’ll begin:
I’ve been on the receiving end of discrimination before: I’m short, so nobody carries clothes that fit. I’m blonde, and get teased for suiting many of the ‘ditzy’ stereotypes. The fact that I’m female means that many of the boys in our flat seem to hold the belief that this means I don’t mind doing all the washing up, day in, day out. But none of this has more than a major impact on my life. I won’t deny that it’s frustrating, but I’ve never not felt proud of who I am because of this. To be honest, I would call them more minor inconveniences than real discrimination. It wasn’t until this week when I was on the receiving end of something that made me feel uncomfortable with my persona. Something that made me wish I could change my entire identity: people wanting to hurt my friends and I because of our class, and race.

With the exception of watching Save The Last Dance, I never really considered the possibility that white, middle class people could experience racism. Even that is set in the south-side of Chicago; a slight difference to one of Britain’s capital cities. I’m not naive enough to think that all black people loved white people, but due to the fact that you never really here about incidents of black-on-white racism in the media I never really thought about it as being much of a problem. Besides, I hail from Oxford where the town-gown divide seems a lot more dangerous and violent than one between races. I also live in a quiet little village, and despite going to a comprehensive, the fact of the matter is that I’ve grown up in something of a happy little bubble concerning racism. Of course I knew it existed, and of course I deplored the fact that people could attack someone simply because of the colour of their skin, or they way they spoke. I knew of cases, but all my knowledge was based on the media. Nobody I knew had any real experience of such prejudices. Needless to say, this made finding myself of the receiving end of such abuse even more of a shock.

My friends do ‘hip hop dance’, something that is just incredible when done by professionals. So on hearing that their instructor was in a show, there was no way we were going to miss out on it. And so off we trotted to Cardiff Bay, usually a pretty nice area of town, to go and see it.

It didn’t take too long before the alarm bells started ringing. You know when you get the feeling of being stared at? Try being in a crowd of 150 black people, or people dressed very much like black people, when you’re a blonde, white girl with a BBC accent. Try people openly talking about you. Try people id-ing your 23-year-old friend (who looks it) so we couldn’t get in, even though there were many children and teenagers in the audience. Try people calling members of your group ‘posh white bitch’, and making reference to wanting to commit some form of violent act against you. Try being with two people who will never leave something unsaid being too intimidated to speak, even to other members of the group, simply out of fear. We may have escaped physically unscathed, but never had any of us felt so uncomfortable for simply being who we are.

You know what pisses me off? The fact that anyone can ever get away with making anyone feel like that. If any of them had been in the queue for a club among a lot of white people, I don’t think we’d even notice. Admittedly some white people would, but everyone knows about white-on-black racism. This doesn’t make it any better, but at least people know it’s an issue. I also won’t deny that, in the Western World, black people have experienced racism on a much greater level than white people. Yet the fact of the matter is that, while they are allowed to fight back against all of this, what about white people? Why can’t we complain that we may miss out on jobs because employers have to fill quotas on the basis of race? If we were to peacefully protest about racism towards white people in certain areas of the country, it would most likely be ignored. Or frowned upon.

Nobody should be allowed to made to feel uncomfortable on the basis of their race, gender, class- anything. But it feels as though, because I’m white, I shouldn’t be complaining for being discriminated against. I’m almost too scared to put it up on The Path, for fear of a backlash. Really, I should be glad that I’ve only ever experienced racism once in my life, now I know what it feels like to be many black people on a regular basis, etc, etc. But the fact of the matter is that now I am put off from going to certain areas of the city I live in. Not because it has an all-round dodgy reputation, not because nobody should ever go there at night. But because I am in danger because of my skin tone. Surely this isn’t right? Surely it should be perfectly valid fear or worry? Yet I feel almost racist for saying it. It is this that makes me even more angry about the situation. I have as much right to be fearful as the next person, but I feel guilty, and a little too much like a raving Conservative, every time I mention or think about it. What annoys me isn’t that these people were racist against white, middle-class girls; the way we dressed and spoke immediately showed us as having a completely different background to them, and for that reason, I can understand why we would attract the odd look. I wouldn’t have even cared if they were thinking ‘fucking white bitches’ or whatever, but the fact that they said it out loud, to our faces, and we could not react, could not complain to anyone, and still feel as though we are in the wrong for doing so- that is what really gets my blood pumping.

I can offer no solution to this problem; I cannot make people’s opinions on racism or races change. But if you think, after reading this article, that I have a right to be annoyed or fearful, then maybe I’ve taken a step in the right direction. Maybe I’ve made a small difference in the way that we address racism in society today. Maybe…

N.B: I know that the views of these black people do not represent all in society today, just as all white people are not racist. If it sounds as if I am grouping all races together then please forgive me, as this was not the intention.

This article is also very much incomplete, and I will hopefully get a chance to edit it in the coming week, but I haven’t had much time to write in this week/weekend due to other essays, so I’m quite proud of even having the rough draft up on the right day!

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4 Comments »

  1. Oooo what a tricky situation! Youve made a lot of really good points in here (and I’m kind of feeling the way you were mentioning, like what right do I have to say this?); you were born with light skin so you’re not as likely to be the victim of racism, and because of the stigmas surrounding the situation are you also not allowed to complain when you are victimized? Oooo so tricky.

    Comment by Amie — March 4, 2007 @ 6:06 pm | Reply

  2. *wholeheartedly agrees with everything Amy said*

    Comment by Emma (37thness) — March 7, 2007 @ 2:03 pm | Reply

  3. That’s exactly it, Amie, although said much more articulately than I managed!

    And thanks Emma, was expecting a load of ‘you racist twunt’ comments from this article, quite relieved to get support instead!

    Comment by amyfeldman — March 8, 2007 @ 3:22 pm | Reply

  4. “If we were to peacefully protest about racism towards white people in certain areas of the country, it would most likely be ignored. Or frowned upon.”

    Because, as you yourself said, it pales both in scale and scope to white-on-black racism. So protesting that it doesn’t receive as much attention as white-on-black racism… well, yeah. There’s a reason for that, which you’ve already mentioned. It happens a lot more, and it’s a lot worse.

    Comment by freshlysqueezedcynic — March 27, 2007 @ 4:07 pm | Reply


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