Updated: Oct 29, 2020
I don't like being told that I'm a racist because I'm white, educated and have a good job. I'd almost suggest that I feel a little bit bullied by the current rhetoric.
And I'm pretty well qualified to identify bullying.
When I was a young child in the late 60s and 70s, life was very different. I think that many people are disadvantaged because their access to recent history is severely restricted by their age and their inability to consider anyone's opinion that might not be on social media.
I didn't meet a person of colour in person until I was about eleven years of age.
However, at school. You could be seriously bullied for a variety of reasons based on your background/origin.
Which part of town you live in
Your academic ability
Your lack of interest in football
The colour of your hair
Your country of birth
The religion of your family
Pretty much anything that makes you different .....
So take a diminutive, ginger haired, intelligent boy that's not very good at sport and move him from one part of the country to another. Take him from a rural community to an urban one. He'd know about bullying.
In a time when many parents had been children during the war years there was far less support from home than there is today and little or no protection from within the school system.
I distinctly remember when a family came to town who were racially different. I remember how we were all told, on pain of the kind of punishment that is just not accepted now, that we should treat these incomers as 'special'. None of the accepted 'hazing' of the time would be accepted for these children.
Being that little bit more obviously different offered a level protection that was just not available to those already on the radar of the bullies among us.
I'm convinced that over time the realisation that we needed to protect peoples of a different skin colour, has helped to ensure that we would make similar improvements for other minorities.
So much has changed and, really, relatively quickly, in the way that society has changed and progressed. We have legislation to protect an array of different parts of the community, we have representation and we have an active dialogue on a host of different aspects of continuing to improve the equality of opportunity.
There are so many, many issues currently. Trying to put 'systemic racism', or even 'structural racism' (What ever that might be!) at the top of the pile of issues, (particularly in the UK) is to risk slowing the rate of progress that we have been making. It shows a lack of knowledge and understanding of the work that has already been done and to belittle the efforts of those that campaigned so hard to create these advances.
But importantly this misguided campaign diverts attention from far, far more immediate issues.