Wednesday, 14 September 2011

'disgusting Nigerian/slave'...the long road to racial equality continues

by Caroline Alabi

At a London airport recently a white man threw racist rants at singer Kelis today because he thought she cut the line. Many people witnessed this open racist rant as they were queuing up and none of them flinched.

He called her a disgusting Nigerian, a slave and said she should refer to him as sir. While this was happening the clerk at the customs desk was nodding his head in agreement! Kelis wasn't alone when this was happening; she was holding her 2 year old son. Approximately 300 other passengers who were queuing also witnessed this and not one person said a word!

Why are we so behind in terms of progression with racial equality and dealing with racism in the UK? Well, Kelis answers this nicely when she says that in the UK everything is swept under a rug - I couldn't agree with this more! When Obama got elected I remember going into work and one of the first things the receptionist (white) said was it's not long before he'll get assassinated! I then proceeded to ignore her and talk openly in the office to my other colleagues about the fact that only ignorant people will be disappointed with a black president. She always used to make subtle statements that were clearly racially charged and because she would word things in a certain way it was hard to actually point out that she was being racist.

A black prime minister in the UK is not even within reach if you ask me because the stiff upper lip culture of the UK is about not being honest and open about things. Americans will openly challenge racism and talk about inequality and aren't afraid to but in the UK saying something like ‘I'm part of a black feminist group’ will just lead to people thinking you are some sort of black panther lesbian idealist but they will pretend that they don't have an issue with it! The racism in the UK so undercover, so discreet and so subtle that it's even harder to tackle!

Here is an article on the racist attack against Kelis, but it makes you wonder doesn't it? The UK isn't actually that tolerant despite the great mix of ethnicities and nationalities represented here. It makes me feel like in theory we think we are making progress because we have race discrimination employment laws in place but in reality it hasn't changed things as much as we think. Until we start openly challenging racist and don't feel apologetic/embarrassed to challenge racism then it will continue. We need to help ourselves because nobody else will.

1 comment:

  1. Have you heard of the scenario, where people in a building watch a woman get brutally stabbed, and none of them do nothing? This story seems far too familiar now.

    All of this syncs back to my thinking on the destruction of community that has been created by globalisation, neoliberalism, etc. I think we have a long way to go before there is a proper community feeling within our society. We do, however, need to do something about it.