Recent news has once again highlighted the issues of racism in Scotland and has led to some Facebook friends having to use their click power to unfriend people they have decided are racist.
The fear of being called racist has put many on the defensive. But as a colleague of mine pointed out, ‘being called “racist” is not an insult. It’s an adjective to describe something which prioritises the importance and value of one ethnic group’s identity, appearance, culture or way of life over others. It’s the assumption that your cultural viewpoint is the right way, the best way – everything else is an anomaly, to be tolerated at best and eradicated at worst.’ (http://www.crer.org.uk/crerblog?start=20)
Most people seem to think of racism in its extreme forms of a white person physically attacking a black person, or in overt forms such as a banana being thrown at a black footballer. However every day racism not only includes these forms of oppression but also racist practice that goes unnoticed but is nonetheless still felt strongly by Black Minority Ethnic (BME) people on a daily basis.
Despite BME people living with the anticipation that racial discrimination can (even will) happen, and this in itself is stressful, what is usually forgotten is that most BME people are not overly sensitive to racial discrimination; in fact many are reluctant to label behaviour as racist before giving the situation serious consideration. No one wants to feel humiliated because of who they are or because of the colour of their skin.
Let’s pause for a moment and consider some examples of what everyday racism looks like:
Politicians make discriminatory statements such as ‘British jobs for British workers’;
Daily Mail cartoon depicting black people in the jungle along with a headline “‘Am I Black?’ asks Tom Jones”.
Teachers sharing Britain First posts with racist sentiments with their classes;
White people rolling their eyes at yet another challenge to their racist joke (and then complaining ‘you can’t say anything these days without the fear of being accused as racist’);
Excessive attention from security guards and police;
Accusations you only got the job because of your ethnicity (assuming you get chosen for a job in the first place).
While these things go on, every day racism continues to be ignored.
Informally at the Coalition of Racial Equality and Rights we hear many comments from people we come into contact with have endured racism, who have become accustomed to it, people whose line has become ‘I don’t want to make a fuss, I just want to ignore it.’
We say that’s no longer acceptable - We want to lift the lid on racism and get Scotland talking about this and to send out the message that we truly want to create a Scotland where there is no room for racism. So we thought we would create a space in which everyone could tell us their own experiences of witnessing or being subjected to everyday racism.
You can share your experiences with us in the comments section below and on our social media. We also hope you can discuss racism in your classrooms and with your colleagues and friends, and we would appreciate you feeding this back to us.
Use the hashtag #Scotracism
If you would prefer to make a comment but don’t want your details known, you can email your experiences to firstname.lastname@example.org under the subject line Everyday Racism, and we’ll remove your personal details and post your comments on this blog.