Well, it’s nearly live. What I witnessed and ended up participating in was about 40 minutes ago, it wasn’t really appropriate to live tweet at the time but I did send out a tweet very soon after!
On the bus from Wood Green to Edmonton. Both very multi ethnic areas, not somewhere you’d expect to find much overt acts of racism but hey, why not? I’m on the way home with my five year old daughter, having taken her on a mummy daughter dinner date as a half term perk. There was an East African guy talking on the phone, in a language other than English, I’m not going to pretend to know which language but a middle aged black man at the back of the bus took offence by his loudness and decided that whatever language he was speaking made him a “stupid Somalian, talking too loudly and ruining the journey for the whole bus, talking his stupidness”.
Well, he kept on tutting and shouting at the younger guy on the phone for about 30 seconds before I turned around (at this stage I didn’t know who it was speaking, it was just riling me to hear the way he spoke to a complete stranger) and POLITELY pointed out that he was now being just as loud and ruining people’s journeys too.
Yup – I became the target for all of his pent up racist aggression. Yup, black people can be racists too. Even against other black people, which is odd, but true. He went on to call me every name under the sun and I continued being polite as I was with my daughter and because, well, because I AM POLITE! After pointing out that he kept on referring to it being down to his race and that I bet he’d have said nothing if the man in question had been white or speaking in English, I told him I refused to get dragged into an argument because Princess was getting tense and a little scared.
Having a scared five year old on the bus didn’t stop him from cursing and calling me stupid for the remainder of the journey (a mere two stops I think). What was funny / sad all at the same time was his closing line as he got off the bus. He said “people like you need to go back to your country if you can’t stand up for what is right” (I thought I was standing up for what I felt was right, being able to get on a bus without hearing racist remarks??) He said “go back to Jamaica and stay out of this country”
Let me remind you. This was a black guy talking to me. Maybe the age of my parents. Telling me to leave the country.
The East African guy came over to me and said thank you. He explained he was talking loudly as the person he was speaking to was partially deaf so he had to speak louder than he normally would. I told him he didn’t have to apologise to me. That the other man was just being mean spirited. We got off one bus stop after the guy who’d shouted at us both. All of this lasted all of 2 minutes tops but it left a bad taste in my mouth.
Princess asked why the man had shouted and why he kept telling us all to go back to our countries. She also asked why Jamaica (my heritage is Dominican and Nigerian) and I explained that he was just a bit grumpy. She called it as she saw it.
“He was being racist and a bully mummy”
Bravo my child. She held my hand, giving it a squeeze as we left the bus stop and told me she was proud of me for standing up for something I thought wasn’t right. If that’s what she got from it, then I’m happy she witnessed what she did, though I wish she hadn’t had to. But the opposite would have been to do what the other passengers did; turn my head, stare out the window and pretend it wasn’t bothering me, which would have felt like I was condoning it.
Would you have said something? Was I stupid for getting involved and asking the shouting man to stop shouting? It’s OK if you don’t agree with me. My partner won’t agree when I tell him later. He’ll tell me I had endangered myself and I should have sat quietly, letting the old man bully the other guy into getting off the phone. So really, if you don’t agree with me it’s cool.
But how do we teach our kids that it is wrong to act out in verbally abusive, bullying or racist ways if we turn away? Why is it OK for a man to think he is superior to others based on the country he came from? Should we all start walking around with passports so we can show him that I have as much right to be here as he does? But then, being a British passport holder shouldn’t make me more worthy of being treated with respect than someone carrying a non UK one should it??
Maybe I’m overly sensitive because just yesterday I wrote this post on black on black sterotyping and now I can’t help but see it and this engrained racism against each other everywhere? Anyway, would love to hear your views peeps!