I feel like the more generalised term for polite racism are micro aggressions, but honestly British culture takes it to a whole new level. The idea of being polite with your prejudice and tricking yourself into believing that you’re not racist is both funny and scary. Funny in the sense of it being ridiculous, and scary because this is a large number of people including managers, policemen and civil servants.
I used to do door-to-door, and the office I was a part of was mostly Black and Asian people, which makes sense when you’re in Birmingham, a ridiculously diverse city. However we would go to different cities every now and then and some of those cities were down south were everyones racist levels are significantly higher. People were scared to open their doors, called the police on us, would follow us in cars – all while we wore bright pink tabbards which had the name of the charity.
Someone was even taken by the police for ‘fitting a description’ of someone who committed a robbery in the area. The description was ‘ethnic’ and he didn’t commit the crime. We’ve all seen other cases when it comes to who gets stopped and searched, or randomly selected for a pat down in the airport.
Some of my memories as a teen are distinctly linked to old women clutching their handbags when walking near me, as if I was a threat to them because of my skin tone. Or bus drivers in my university town never stopped for any ethnic person who ran for the bus – you think that ones paranoia, but I kept a tally and a note on each driver, and they all stopped for every single white student.
Within the work force, black women are seen as more aggressive, black men as threats or less capable, and the asians tend to hang out in their own groups because they refuse to deal with it all. It’s honestly mad, sometimes I can see the discomfort someone has whenever anyone from a non white background talks about their culture – if we have to sit down and listen to your Sunday roast stories, I’d think you could take the time to listen to this. Or put your headphones on, that’s always an option.
A lot of the people perpetuating this atmosphere of racism are the same people who claim to not be racist, and have a black/asian best friend/boyfriend/cousin. Honestly it needs to stop, I completely understand that a lot of this stuff is internalised and rewiring your brain to not be like this is difficult – but do it anyway. Every racist aunt/grandmother etc needs to be corrected, when you notice anything of a racial nature speak out and actually help the person involved instead of walking away and posting a Martin Luther King quote.
Also stop saying shit like ‘I don’t see colour’ you’re basically saying you don’t see racism.