I was raised in the City of Leicester, in an area where multi culture thrived. I played and grew up along side kids of all cultures and we celebrated Christmas, Ede and Diwali at school. Not once did a racist thought go through my mind or exit my mouth. I was blind to the colour of anyone's skin. Racism was something that was around in the 60s and had long been extinct. In my mind, my chances in life where no higher than anyone else's.
I was so naive to what was really going on. Until, that was, I came to the beautiful picturesque city of Cambridge. But peel away the pretty filter and you will find the ugly face of it, cram packed with white privilege and an undertone of racism. The contrast to the streets of Leicester was immediately apparent. The only culture I could see here was the tourists that flocked the streets to gawp at the beautiful, historic colleges. This isn't a vendetta against Cambridge, racism is prevalent all over the world. But it came to light just how bad the problem is when I stepped away from what I was used to. It became more obvious when I started working for The Cambridge University Students Union. Thank goodness for the BME committee working towards a bigger BME representation within the University and Access Officers have worked towards equal access to the University for all classes and ethnicities (although why this is even a thing that we need to fix is beyond me). It brings me a little bit of comfort to know the problem has been recognised and at least something is being done.
The recent Brexit referendum also let racism rear its ugly head. We began to see the true colour of some of the peoples attitude to those who's nationality are not British. Whether you are a remainer or not, there is no denying Brexit seemed to give people a gateway to say what they where really thinking. Us British seem to have a habit of taking a subject and twisting it until it's ugly. When President Trump came into office, that seemed to extract even more racism... but let's not go there, the racism problem in America is a whole other, bigger and messier can of worms.
While improvements have been made and people of colour have become louder and stronger, there is still so much more to be done. Half of the problem is white people don't know how to help. We don't want to get too involved in case we come off as racist anyway, because it hasn't been taught to us what being racist really means. So we sit back and just let it all fester under our noses in hopes it will all just fix its self. But without the help of all parties this problem is not going to go away. We all have a duty to educate those that need it and continue to recruiting for the fight.
We can't change history, but we can all stand up and join the fight against racism.With that being said, I have put together 3 easy steps any white person can take to join the fight in eradicating racism:
1. Acknowledge your white privilege: The problem here is that too many white people think that white privilege doesn't exist. They don't believe it exists because they don't see the problem in their everyday lives. Getting a job is easy, talking your way out of an arrest is easy, applying for a loan is easy. The everyday hardships that a person of colour faces is hidden from view because it isn't talked about enough and therefore can't be happening. Out of site out of mind. The more we acknowledge that white privilege exists the more racist actions will be identified.
2. Forget Race. Race is a political construction invented around 600 years ago to identify people by the colour of their skin and facial structures during the colonization of the Americas, and was used to to decide the rights and privileges between the workers. And that's how racism was born. So, let's not identify people by a race anymore, it really isn't needed. We are all individual human beings sharing this earth. When using race we are putting people into a box. If we consider everyone as an individual there are no boxes, which eradicates race, and without race, racism can't survive.
3. Be Pro-Active: Talk about it. Support black businesses, black artists, join black movements, call out racists, prove the existence of white privilege! If you aren't actively helping to diminish racism then what are you doing? Just telling people you aren't racist? Great! But that isn't helping anyone but your own ego.
None of the points I've gone over is new information, and things have got better in recent years. I see it on the streets of Cambridge, I see it on the TV, I see it in work places. But we must do more. We can't keep burying our heads in the sand. It's time to be honest with ourselves. Spread the word! Racism still exists!