I grew up in a little pocket of the Home Counties. It was the quintessential village in every way, picture perfect. Everyone had the same religion and was all the same nationality.
My first experience of racism happened when a young African family dared to move into this idyllic community. As a child watching the adults that you look up to, terrorise a family because of the colour of their skin was confusing.
Children being encouraged to participate and praised for their actions.
When the family finally fled, I watched the “celebrations” that followed and wasn’t quite sure why but knew it wasn’t right. As I got older, I had to travel to the nearest big town to attend school and met a world, unknown to me. People of all colours and religions mixing together, seemingly with no issues among them.
I made some very good friends of many nationalities and thought little more on the subject of racism. Unfortunately, in 25 years little has changed. We now live in a multi-cultural society but racism is as profound as ever.
I was shocked and appalled at the recent Yeovil Town football match to hear a man shouting racial abuse at an Italian from the opposing team. This was bad enough, but then the two young boys sat with him were encouraged to yell the same slur and laughed at when they did.
I must have been the only one offended as the stewards chuckled at the display. Explaining to my son afterwards why it was wrong, he couldn’t fathom why someone from a different country was being called names and simply asked, ”are we not all the same inside?”
Online, I repeatedly see race being used to explain crime and the lack of jobs. Seemingly any crime committed by an unknown person must be Polish. Any bad driving clearly being the work of a foreigner.
I question why more is not being done to integrate people from different backgrounds.
Surely, to achieve a mutual respect and understanding, the segregation has to stop.
In Yeovil there is a very clear British/Polish divide. My sons went to a children’s centre for mother and baby group. A new group was started for Polish mother and baby. Instantly the community was fractured and split into two camps. This did nothing to help ease the situation and years later I see no real progress.
There are good and bad in every nationality, yet we seem determined to tar everyone with the same brush. As time goes on more nationalities will come to Britain and every effort should be made to educate and accept.
Whether you believe that opening up Britain’s doors to the EU is a good thing or not, it is happening. Rightly or wrongly England is becoming a nation with a multitude of nationalities.
If we bring our children up to hate, then that is all they will ever know. They will be limited in what they can achieve if they cannot accept the difference in people.
I am lucky, my son thinks that if he speaks with a pidgin accent he is fluent in any language, he does not differentiate between colour or religion and I hope that it will stay that way.
Criminals come in any form, background and religion. Equally, so do heroes. Racism is apparent on all sides of the divide, causing trouble in town and online.
Clearly the situation has improved immensely from the days of white/black segregation but a new era of Britain/EU is rising. Can we not take notice of the youngest in society who cannot see nationality and simply ask: “Are we not all the same inside?”