Tuesday 3 October 2023


 Kemi Badenoch = the business secretary - told the Conservative Party Conference yesterday that Britain is the best country in which to be black.

It was good to hear, but I would suggest there is still a long way to go and I am not sure that the 'long way' can easily be shortened.

I spent twenty years teaching in the West Midlands - most of that time in a Comprehensive S chool in one of the most deprived areas of Wolverhampton.   I retired in 1983, stayed in the city for another two years and then came up here with my first husband - who had taught in the Prison Service in the West Midlands - in what were then Detention Centres and Borstals (I don't think either exist any more).  Our school was -roughly - a third West Indian (mostly Jamaican), a third young people from Pakistan (almost all Sikh), and a third white - from a deprived area of the city.

If there was racism in school I can't say I ever came across it.   The city was such a mixture of races even as far back as that that it was largely accepted.

Moving up here was a bit of a revelation in that here in The Dales there was hardly a black face to be seen.   We have a Chinese take-away but I have never seen either of the people who run it outside of the premises - they presumably live elsewhere.   We have a good pizza take away and two \Indian restaurants - both very good I understand.   But the Proprietors of all live in the Bradford area (where there is a large community) and travel up daily - and work jolly hard.

Our Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, happens to be our Constituency MP and on the whole his is the only 'non-white' face ever seen.

Until last week-end when a black (I would guess West Indian) young man walked past my bungalow in walking gear and carrying a rucksack - we live on the approach road to several walks featured in walking books.

The only 'local' jobs, apart from the Building Trade (plenty of building firms and decorating firms up here ) are jobs in quarrying and farming/agriculture. People tend to sell up in the South and move up here where property is cheaper thus giving them money to spare on updating/adding to property they have bought.

So this is not an area to attract an influx of black people.   Who can blame them for wishing to stay together.    It must be so very isolating for a family to move alone into such an 'alien' environment.

I remember when Rishi Sunak fir st stood for this constituency in a General Election I was appalled to hear a friend remark that he would never 'get in. '  She was sure 'people here will never vote for someone with a black face'.   Having just moved up here from a very multi-cultural school and city this was an alien remark - and as it happened not true anyway.   He got in easily (after following William Hague!)

Speaking to young people before I retired - over and over again they said that they did not wish ever for people to not notice their colour.   They were black, I was white - they needed to be seen for who they were and what kind of person they were - regardless of the colour of their skin.

I hope that in large connurbations that state is being reached but in areas like this not so I'm afraid.   It is, I am sure, still a case of 'colour first' ''what kind of person they are" second.   I fear it will be so for a long time to come sadly - and I can't think of any way of making it otherwise.


Anonymous said...

I am very interested in all of your posts but this one really hit home. My husband and I worked and raised our son in a small community in Indiana USA. After my son left for college we moved to the capitol, Indianapolis. The small farming community had very few people of color. The suburbs of Indianapolis had a mix of many races and cultures. I have witnessed many negative comments by whites about people of color while living in Indiana. We relocated to Georgia when my husband accepted a job transfer. I lost count of the many many comments from individuals that surprised me by saying how racist the south is and we would hate it here. I have seen the opposite. While none of us can ever forget the Civil War and the horrific stories from that time, my view has been nothing but the opposite. Perhaps if we had moved to a very small town I would have had a different experience but I can only share my personal perspective from what I have seen. My husband retired and we have decided to stay here. Jackie

Traveller said...

Interesting post Weave. I left a comment on Cro’s blog when he said there was no institutional racism in the UK..Stephen Lawrence comes to mind.

There is a huge amount of racism in the UK, institutional and other. The Brexit vote, in my opinion, was largely racist. People wanted to “take their country back” - aka keep the foreigners out.

I have spent the vast majority of my life as an immigrant, so have a particular perspective on the issue

Anonymous said...

How different the world would be if history headlines reflected "Whites treated appallingly by First Nations people".
I guess culture, by its very nature, encourages a 'them and us' nature on both sides of a story but a lot of dominance, misunderstanding and cruelty seeps through history's pages.
Australia prides itself on being multicultural, which is pretty generous on the part of our First Nations people when you come to think of it, but there are still plenty of snide racist remarks and attitudes to be found, particularly by the older generation.
I guess on the positive side, we are always working towards harmony, undermined often by broken promises unfortunately on both sides of Australia's elected political parties.
Our upcoming 'The Voice' referendum this month is the latest attempt in trying to address these issues. - Pam.

Granny Sue said...

I ran into a similar situation when I moved here, Pat. I grew up in a small Virginia town, and there was racism but it was hidden away for the most part. But when I moved here, I was shocked by how overt it was. People used the n word in ordinary conversation when referring to blacks, and said thing like no black better be in the county come sundown. There were no blacks or any other race here,, except some Asian doctors.It is better today, thank goodness, but racism is still very much alive. The younger generations will be the ones to change it, as they seem for the most part to be colorblind. Blessings on them!

Barbara Anne said...

When I was a senior in high school nearly 55 years ago, the American Field Service (exchange student program) had the motto "Walk together, talk together people of the world. Then and only then will there be peace." May it be so.

I fear too many people choose racism so they have others to look down on so they themselves can feel superior. How sad.


Joanne Noragon said...

I think, in spite of the fervent hopes of most of us, my country remains very racially divided. We have a political party that enjoys exacerbating this. However, the old prejudices are disappearing among some of the better educated youngsters.

Red said...

Your post provokes lots of thought. For two years I lived in a community where we were the minority. Out of 200 people 10 of us were white. I got used to it and had to show that I was dependent on them for many things.

Cro Magnon said...

At least we can be proud to live in a country where we have never had institutionalised racism. I cannot imagine living in a country where segregation was officially enforced.

Tom Stephenson said...

Looking back, I am surprised that there was no a single brown face at both of my schools in Woking, even though Woking had the first purpose built mosque in the country. One day a black girl arrived in the middle of term, and she turned out to be an Australian Aborigine!

thelma said...

I think the younger generation accept without going back to racism because there are so many ethnic groups around. People are becoming more mixed and eventually the old racist right wing part of the country will die out.

Debby said...

I like Thelma's take. Thoe old ways will die out. I know that it will take longer in places like my corner of the world, because there is not a lot of racial diversity. There is nothing to challenge the racist's mind. Indeed, most people here don't believe it exists.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Very heartening Thelma and there is a lot of food for thought in what you say.
Tom - how very daunting it must have been for the girl.

I suppose your comments are only to be expected. If anyone who had commented here to this post expressing what I considred tp be a racialist view it would really have put me off ever blogging with them again. Therefore it follows - thank you all - such interesting comments and all giving similar yet different views.

Thanks everyone.

Susan said...

Children are not born racist. It is learned. I do not condone racism. Until the racist modelling ends, racism will continue. The world can be a better place for all. It's going to take time.