Well, I had a peach of a day today!
I gotta type fast, as I’m exhausted. It’s 10pm in a blisteringly cold ‘Blighty’ and I’ve challenged myself to get this written and posted in half an hour (unlikely). So, you’ll be getting a rehashed picture and probably typo-city!
Those of you that know me well, know I’m an educator. I know I’m a damned fine educator (I’m just beginning to OWN that) and so do the 1000s of children I have taught, not just about the subject of English, but about how to be authentically themselves, to love themselves and to honour who they are.
I was called a ‘MONKEY’ today…
Yup… a delightful young charge, a boy of about 14 years old decided that although I am
- An elder
- His teacher
- A stranger
- That it’s perfectly Okay to lob racial slurs in my direction.
- That its okay to define me according to the features afforded me at birth that identify me as belonging to a specific cultural group and possessing a heritage different to his own.
- To be ignorant of the fact that I have no control over (though I love) those features and they in no way indicate my generosity, how kind I may be, my intellect, size of my wallet any other quality I may possess.
In fifteen years as an educator I am aware that many a pupil, when faced with my firm behaviour management have had a few choice word to say. I can’t pretend to be a blushing wallflower and swear (pardon the pun) that I haven’t heard the odd expletive levelled at me, but I can categorically say, that NEVER has a child been brazen enough to directly and with venom, throw a racially charged insult my way.
Walking home in the bitter and I mean bitter cold It struck me and I have to say incensed me that I am 54years born, raised and seasoned in Leeds, Yorkshire, England, UK. Contributed some 35 of those years to paying taxes and positively contributing to society. my family alone are 5 generations into our contribution to this society and this little pipsqueak has been, in 2019 socialised into thinking racism is okay.
I was raised in the agitation and dread of racist 1970s Britain and the ‘There ‘aint no black in the union Jack’ sentiments
I felt the same horror, the same lurch in my stomach; the same acetic retch today as I did when called a ‘Nigger bitch’ and told to go home, by a car-full of young men, whilst I walked close to my home as a young girl.
Regardless of our 5 generations of slog and contribution by my family, he is taught nothing of legacy nor is he guided to understand the respect due to an elder. Ironically, his own ancestors probably arrived here two generations ago.
Our current political and social fabric condones his sentiments; legitimises them and creates and environment for them to survive. He feels that by denigrating me it makes him ‘cock of the walk…’ insulting an elder, a woman, a queen, a guide.
It’s a climate that has seen our leaders insidiously allow the creeping poison of racism to seep back into the veins of our society: *Windrush, Brexit… and after all what America does do we not follow? So, we now have the dastardly, despicable and jingoistic duo that is Trump and Johnson legitimising inflammatory and racist sentiment.
In the US there was a post Civil War promise made to allot family units, including newly freed slaves, a plot of land no larger than ‘40 acres and a mule.‘ It was a promise made by Union General William Tecumseh Sherman on January 16, 1865 after the war ended.
Trump wants to build a wall, Anti-immigrant and racist sentiment has been on the increase for the last few years (see above*) and I for one am ready to claim my ‘Forty Acres.’
Why on this earth would I, after all this time want to stay where microaggressions and downright overt rejection are still the norm?
After 30+ years of travel I still KNOW that that seat next to me will not be taken by anyone unless they reeeeeeally are forced to, that the department store guard will at some point follow me around the store, that my change will be dropped into my hand as though I’m a leper and most establishments will shove my fellow melanated workers into the non-public facing roles wherever possible.
I had my doubts about re-entering the ‘system’ that is Education on my return to the UK. I need to eat & I need to live. Education is what I know…
This… galvanises my resolve
If anyone knows Nana Akufo-Addo, tell him 2020 should be the UK’s year of return!
I am only too willing to go search of the sweet, smell of a warm nubian breeze and when reparations are forthcoming I will be first in line to claim my ’40 acres’ and I definitely won’t be forgetting my goddamned mule either!