I try not to court controversy and make much reference to political aspects of the news as I’m quite thick when it comes to such matters and cannot hold my own in an argument over much and tend to get angry when having a debate, because it just feels like people have a bloody answer to discredit every point I make (kind of the point of a debate really, I guess!) and it frustrates me that I cant always make a quick comeback.
On the way to my friend’s house yesterday I was listening to Radio 2 (which I always do) and there were two young people called Timi Ariyo and Tami Sotire on the show as guests being interviewed by Paul McKenna. The long and short of it that these lovely, articulate, clever, well mannered kids had been the victims of a long standing online attack from fellow students from their 6th Form in a school in Essex. Their bullies’ problem was that both Timi and Tami are Black. Nigerian in descent and (the way I interpreted) almost all their life spent fighting discrimination based upon the colour of their skin. One example Timi sited was when he was about 6 or 7 when a classmate went on holiday to Egypt and brought back a gift for all the other children bit Timi. When Timi asked him why he didn’t have a present the boy said, without a moments hesitation that his mother hadn’t allowed him to buy a gift because of Timi being Black!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????? Now I’m sorry for all the question and exclamation marks but I couldn’t believe what I heard. Either, I have grown up and learned to accept everyone’s difference and have no problem with whom I associate but I couldn’t understand someone saying that to a child or even thinking it in the first place.
Both if these kids gave numerous examples of how they were bullied, discriminated against, left out of things and had things said (supposedly) in ‘banter’ that they didn’t like and how they felt let down by friends who didn’t challenge this for fear of reprisal. I just couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
Obviously, most of the readers know that I have been to university and studied social work and worked in that job for nearly 12 years before quitting my job and vowing never to return. Through my studies I learned about different ways that peoples prejudices can become apparent and how these can be challenged in a constructive way to enable people to grow in their knowledge in a safe and positive way. A lot of the ‘old school’ social workers who had done their training in the 1970’s and 80’s said that there was a lot of training about in those decades that they struggled with around race relations and since then there have been many positive changes both to training and in attitudes on the whole. Why then did I hear an excerpt of a video posted on a social media site where young men were heard making monkey noises and singing “Timi Airyo swings where he wants”??? Hearing this, I was so angry that I was moved to tears in sorrow for this pair and other people belonging to minority ethnic groups. Why did no teachers challenge this ‘banter’ when they were in earshot? Why were these kids so ‘accepting’ of the abuse they got ? (cos they were bloody worn down from it, I would think), why are some people so damn cruel?? I just don’t get it!
Here is the link to a BBC news article which sums up what I heard on the radio yesterday afternoon. I think I got the crux of the matter out there in my own words.
Why am I ranting and raving about it as a white working class woman? Because I hate inequality. I hate to see people down trodden, accepting of this kind of abuse, too exhausted to say anything due to lack of support from those who should care and fear of reprisal.
The impitus to post this blog tonight was upon seeing a friend’s Facebook post where she had been texting a guy and he’d asked the question of her whether her children were ‘mixed race’. My friend had replied that yes, they are questioned how it was relevent. This man had replied that he didn’t ‘feel comfortable’ about it and didn’t wish to continue their friendship. I think she got a very lucky escape! Joking and disbelief aside, where exactly did he get off needing to know the ethnic origin of her children?? And why did it matter? I guess there’s no educating some people, sadly.
Until next time xx