I’ve had the urge to post for sometime… I’ve had nothing new to say. Or rather nothing important to say. OK I’ve never really talked about important things, intentionally, with an agenda. I’m still writing the book, still enjoying the new house, still could lose a few, still with cat… As you can see nothing much has changed. Don’t get me wrong, this is me bragging.

I’ve been helping a friend in her shop till she finds permanent help. She sells designer clothes for Muslim women who wish to dress ‘modestly’ but with a bit of ‘bling’. I’m no fashionista and I don’t speak Urdu or Arabic. Turns out it was much easier than I anticipated, you just call everything “these”. Anyhow, this had me thinking about a post that I wrote sometime ago, but didn’t publish, cos I let the doubt settle in. Here it is…

“There I was enjoying an unusual afternoon of domestication (cleaning, washing, sorting clothes for charity), listening to a bit of music (Cee Lo Green), answering a few fone calls (my boss, my dad), pottering ont’ web… When all of a sudden my peaceful reverie is spoiled by nobheads.

For my foreign friends who might not know what a ‘nobhead’ is, it’s a crude way of explaining that someone is ten steps beyond idiot. In this instance, a nob being a penis. I think you know where I am going with this…

You know that I usually do not do politics and usually stick to posts about my life and my interactions with those close to me. Not today. I’m angry. But I am also very proud of the way one woman has chosen to tackle ‘hate crime’.

It’s not unusual for me to minimise some instances that I believe are not racist, but the result of a clash between two uneducated people who have no better way of describing their frustrations, than to name call… Working in hostels I see it all the time.

“F@cking Paki” and “White B@stard” and charmingly “Fat, white c@nt” can be heard bouncing off walls on a weekly basis. These people are friends, they sit and smoke together, they share food, they laugh at the same jokes and protect each other from ‘outsiders’.

When something goes wrong, say someone fails to pay a debt, then the insults roll off tongues inflated with injured pride. A failure to pay a debt on time can mean that they can’t pay a debt they owe someone else or that they have no money for food (or drugs) that day. So they lash out, usually verbally. And nine times out of ten, it’s an obvious physical attribute that gets chosen to prick the pride of the recipient.

Fat, b@stard, f@cking, c@nt, slag, and a few other expletives are generals; with something personal to that person thrown in, such as Ginger, Black, White, Spastic, Gay, etc. The more it hurts the better the person has portrayed the level of injustice that they feel.

We have the talks and we explore why people use the words they do and all involved acknowledge, that mostly, it’s because they don’t know how else to deal with the way they feel. Being homeless strips you of a lot of things, including your sense of self and pieces of your humanity. The impotence of being unable to change their circumstances can leave them hollow to other peoples suffering, and sometimes they have to be hurt and inflict hurt in order to remind themselves that they are still alive, still a living, breathing feeling human.

It’s what lies behind the ugly words that matter. A day or too later after the air has cleared or the debt has been paid, normal service will resume and it will be as if nothing had happened. To outside eyes, this can seem racist or homophobic etc but it isn’t. It’s certainly politically incorrect and it’s definitely uncouth, but I strongly feel that it isn’t racism, more a symptom of feeling disengaged and marginalised.

You know when an incident is racist. It shakes your world for a long time afterwards. The after shock can ripple through your life for weeks, months, and sadly sometimes a lifetime. Racism makes you feel sick to the pit of your stomach. It makes you question things you previously thought you knew. It makes you suspicious and mistrustful, not only of strangers, but of people you know.

Racism is premeditated and intended to cause maximum harm FOREVER. It is designed to get under your skin and make you feel hatred for yourself. People who perpetrate hate crimes such as racism are bile filled and difficult to love. As a Buddhist, trying to practice loving kindness with racists is difficult for me to do. Empathise? I can not put myself in their shoes and to try understand why they do what they do.

I’m taught that people who hurt people are suffering too and they need my compassion more than most, but I simply can not walk one step along their path. It hurts me to think that some of my fellow men and women are looking at me thinking was it you? People who could be my friends, driven out of my life, by people we both don’t know. But then, that’s the other thing racism is designed to do. Isolate. Isolate and segregate.

So when I heard the tale of a young Muslim woman who’s family had been targeted by nobheads, who placed rotting pig heads in their garden, I almost broke my anonymity. Instead of going straight into retaliation and retribution, she questioned herself. Then she looked at the people around her and finally wondered why she lived in Bradford.

At no time, did she write about revenge or self pity, she spoke simply of an establishment that frustrated the course of justice (Dear Bradford Met Police, you suck on this one). Personally, if someone had told me four pigs heads had been dumped in their garden, I’d be trying to find out which butcher is selling a strange amount of pigs heads…

I want to say to her, that I am with you. Together we will not let them have Bradford. Together we will continue to tackle the many barriers that prevent true and lasting friendships from forming in Bradford. Together we will be the change we wish to see. We will rise above. If I ever meet you in person, I will reveal myself to you. Just remember, there are more people like us, than there are people like them.”

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