Does racism still exist? I asked myself the same question when I returned back from holiday in Paris last month. Attempting to pass through customs, my mates and I (all black males) were stopped for a “routine bag check” and had our items x-ray’d in a separate queue which ultimately led to a ten minute interrogation. There seemed to be a handful of black people travelling from Paris so how half of the people in the “routine bag check” queue managed to be black was quite uncanny… I also asked myself the race question when I was with a mixed batch of friends ready to enter a west-end club. Well at least they were lol, the bouncer had singled me out (I so happened to be the only black guy) and claimed my shoes weren’t up to scratch so I couldn’t get in. Meanwhile Jack the Lad walks in after me with these Diadora trainers which were hitting the retirement age and not a peep was said.
I really began to dwell on this question after my first encounter with the police. Remember heading home from college when two undercover policemen jumped out of their car and approached me. They began questioning me and next thing I know they’re throwing me to the ground and detaining me. The police report claimed I “tried to run away” as they’d suspected me of drug possession. I was refused a phonecall and was subjected to more questioning at the station. Funniest thing was when they’d confirmed I wasn’t in possession of anything illegal, they started picking other crimes out of thin air, asking if I’d known anything about them lol. This could’ve happened to anyone right.. well not according to the complaints officer I spoke to afterwards. He admitted I was targeted as I was an “ethnic minority in a high drugs area”.. funnily enough that lil’ bit of honesty was quite refreshing.
Sometimes it’s hard to deep what other groups of people go through especially if you’ve not dealt with those issues yourself. Harassment towards women is my personal example of this. Remember meeting up with my girlfriend at the time and she was noticeably annoyed. She’d explained that these guys were trying to holla her from their car but she ignored them. They then started hurling abuse at her as she wasn’t giving them any attention before driving off. I was p*ssed off that some idiots would behave like that and I was helpless to it.. but upon reflection I remembered hearing similar stories of women receiving unwanted attention and perhaps didn’t pay too much mind as it wasn’t close enough to hit home. Women have been highlighting this issue for ages yet I was still ignorant to it. In a similar way Raheem Sterling speaks out about the treatment of black footballers, yet it has taken a white pundit to co-sign his concerns before the masses open their ears.
Are race related issues on the rise in the UK? Probably not but due to the rise in social media etc, a lot of these issues are being captured and people are taking note. Let’s be clear though, one bad egg spoils the bunch. It’ll be ignorant to accuse the masses of racism because that’ll be foolish but it’s necessary to talk about the topic even if it’s to challenge the unconscious bias we naturally have. So you “we’re all one race, the human race” type people need to take a seat to the left ‘cos I think it’s childish to just side step the matter. The only thing worse than overt discrimination is a passive aggressive one. This doesn’t stop at race issues neither, there’s a number of prejudices which even I hold which I’m trying to unlearn. Baby steps I suppose, but as a group of competent people we can’t keep doing the same things over and over again and expecting a different outcome.