Racism is a terrible thing-it subjects individuals to judgements on things that are entirely external to them. I confess that this is an issue that is often far from my thoughts, as I live in a very white community and work in a white community, where race is rarely an issue. I never wonder whether or not I belong, and nobody ever questions my belonging. I am judged for who I am-for my work ethic, my treatment of people; rarely will someone judge me before they talk to me, unless it is based on my youth-something that I will eventually lose anyway. So I am grateful to those people who, on occasion, remind me of the world that I live in and wake me up from my lethargic acceptance of the present. I must say, reading the news does not suffice-I read my paper each morning, and I read my Macleans every weekend, but it is testimony and experience that writes the reminders on my heart. Most recently, the writers over at Velociriot have shaken me from my stupor in their post “The effects of witnessing racism”:
“When leaving our local club we waited at the taxi rank for the next available ride. There was a group of girls and boys already arguing with one of the two taxis there. At first we thought maybe they were asking for high amounts of money – because it has happened on many occasions. Taxi drivers do indeed try to oversell because you don’t have much other option on transport.
However, when my friend asked one of the girls if that was the case, she spewed some awful remarks that in all honesty left me stunned. At first there was just clear disrespect for the job drivers have to do. She moaned he would not take all of her group to three different locations for under £15 (let’s also bear in mind it was about 3:30 a.m. – so the driver could charge double if they really wanted). She then resorted to the only hurtful comment she could think of: “so I told him to fuck off back to his own country”. She actually used more colorful language, but I don’t think it appropriate to state. However, you see pure and clear the point she was making, and my point as well.
The taxi driver at this point pulled up next to me and my friend and he kindly agreed to a reasonable charge for our two drops. And this is when the effect of the situation really got to me – when we were seated, belted and moving, the driver asked us “Did you hear what that girl said to me? Why would she say that?” And my heart just broke.
We — of course — talked to him about the fact that there are unfortunately people like that in the world. How unjust, unintelligent and vile it is. But as I think on it, I keep honing in on what my friend said to the driver: “She also said it because it is the only insult she can say to you.”
That’s when it really hit me – I will never have the experience of that, from my side of things. Because I am of English heritage, and White – I have experienced my fair share of insults. But no one can ever make me feel like I don’t belong. As if I am a separate species or an invader.”
You can find the rest of the post here.