Monday 28 November 2011

Black and White

I thought I would share some of my views on a very delicate subject - racism.
London is a very diverse city. Thousands of different people, with different skin colours, different faiths and different cultures live here. No wonder that very often those differences create tension.

I come from a little town in Poland where darker skin colour is a rarity. However, I have always been tolerant and I think that despite the obvious external differences, we are all the same in the inside.
So, I was very surprised seeing that very often white people are not the ones who actually are racist.
Let me give you some examples.
During my second year in London I got a job in a clothes shop. I worked with a mixture of people: English, Australian, Spanish, Jamaican and Polish. Countless times I was a witness of situations where certain people instead of working were chatting in the fitting rooms, hiding from customers. When told off by another member of staff (usually white) their argument was always the same: 'you're picking on me because I'm black!'. So, after a while I took on the same approach: no one would tell me what to do just because I'm white!

When I go to hairdressers I like to indulge myself in reading women's magazines. I don't like spending money on those, so I only read them when they are available for free :). Grazia had a very interesting article on racism. The author, a black lady, was saying that the racism is when there are no cosmetics for black women available, when a white person is scared to go to Brixton because they are afraid of getting robbed etc. Fair enough! And then she went on decribing how she was told by a white woman that she had very beautiful exotic hair. The author of the magazine was truly offended by that. She said that saying her hair was exotic the other woman made her feel abused and discriminated. Very strange, I must say and I'm saying that because a black girl I worked with said to me once that I had great hair and that all white people have very silky and soft hair. Should have I been offended? I doubt that I could have said that she was being racist, because she was black and only white people are racist. Was all the fuss because the woman said 'exotic'? I don't think that's such a bad word, is it? Soon we wouldn't be able to say anything that would indicate that the other person's got a different skin colour.

I hate racism and I don't want our society to be prejudiced, but I don't want it to go in a direction where we need to stay quiet and mind every step we make. Where is the limit? What's your view?

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