Last night, I was caught up in a racially aggravated fight. My husband was punched several times as were two other guys we were with – one needing stiches near his eye from where the glass from his specs broke on his face, the other a bloody cheek.
There was no need for this. Our friend had reported being racially verbally abused, minutes earlier to the pub manager. And by the time he walked over to us, his would be attacker had followed.
We didn’t fight back but instead tried to break people up. They ran out of the place. The police were called. Details were taken.
“If we can find who did this, do you want to take this further and press charges?”
“Yes – so it doesn’t happen to more people” my friend answered.
I had a 40 year old man cry on my shoulder at the shock of his first racial abuse having (literally) hit him. He grew up abroad where his ethnicity wasn’t a minority. Of course hate exited, but it wasn’t based on skin colour per say.
I had his English wife, in shock, stating: “I can’t believe this is the reality… Our husbands need to watch their back because they’re brown.”
“It’s not always like this, honest. Don’t let this skew your perception. Yes, this shit happens. But we’re lucky – for us it isn’t the norm,” I said to them both.
Deep down though, I was feeling differently and various thoughts and emotions flew through me.
1. No one hurts my people
I don’t mean ‘my people’ in a racial way. I mean it in a solidarity sense. If you’re my friend, if you’re my family, if I care about you – you’re my people. We’re in the same team. Mess with one of us and I see red.
I literally put myself in harms way for these people. I am not a violent person and have my temper in check over most things – but this is the one scenario where I loose my rationality.
I will shout. I will protect. I will be present.
Do not tell me not to. Do not tell me I shouldn’t. Because I will.
2. Not everyone will feel how we have felt in that moment
Isn’t that a good and bad truth? It’s great that not everyone has to feel this, but it’s sad, unfair and angering that a truth we have experienced, is something still unseen, unfelt and unreal for some.
Do we have an obligation to speak out; to tell our truth, to tell our stories; to make real what others don’t see? But to what end, I ask myself. Who cares, really? After all, this happened outside of your bubble – it happened to my people. Not yours. So will you care? Would you care more if the people were more like you?
Do disasters in a foreign country with brown people, mean less than disasters in another, where the people are more like ‘you’? The media thinks so, so why wouldn’t you?
3. I am aware of my difference
I watch my step more carefully – ensuring I don’t touch anyone; I observe people to see if they are watching me differently. I feel on edge as I travel home, aware suddenly of my difference to so many of the people I’m around. Could any of these people turn on me, my husband, my friends?
I’m shocked and saddened at my response to this. I don’t know what to do with the emotion that makes me hate, fearful and weary of people that have done nothing to deserve this.
A drunken, racist minority brought about this mind frame. I cannot be like them. If I judge everyone as if they are the person who swung at my husband or punched my friend, am I not as bad as you – the racist? Am I not tarring a whole swam of people with a brush tainted by a malicious moment?
This is rhetorical of course – I know the answer.
I refuse to be you, the racist.
My world is better than that…