by Karen J Mossman
I was reading an online about racial abuse on a Manchester tram. A youth suddenly started yelling abuse at a man who was minding his own business. He was in his thirties, dark-skinned with glasses and hair in a pony tail. A regular looking guy, I say. The tram seemed to be full as some like him had to stand as there were no seats left.
At first the man ignored the abuse, but that’s very hard when the insults get personal. It was a typical ‘get back to way you came from’, which I always found ignorant and a strange thing to say as most people, and their parents were born here anyway.
Eventually the man did shout back saying something about the youth’s age, as they actually had the cheek to tell him to get off the tram.
People around stayed tight-lipped and silent, but looked uncomfortable. The abuser and his friends moved closer, faces a mask of hate, fingers pointing as they yelled at him. It was shocking to watch. Luckily it was the abusers who got off the tram in the end and people found their voices, many admitting how frightened they had been.
How can people possibly misunderstand what this ‘Brexit’ is all about? How can they presume things of other people and foster hate like that? Personally I think they court trouble. They like drawing attention to themselves and other people. They unfortunately enjoy the drama and violence of it. I’ve no idea what we can do about things like that. Is it possible to educated people who can’t seem to be reached?
I remember a few years ago I was sitting at some traffic when a white van came up beside me. My radio was on and windows were closed as I heard someone shouting. I looked over and the guy in the van seemed to be yelling out of his window. I couldn’t make out what he was saying so I turned down the radio and listened.
Although I still couldn’t make it out, but the tone of his voice was aggressive. I then looked to see what he was actually shouting at and realised it was a Pakistani man walking across the road. I so shocked; what could I do? Sound my horn? Shout back? Oi! Big nose, and see how he liked it. He then drove off laughing.
It made me think to when I was a child in the late sixties and seventies. I remember there was quite a lot racial abuse about at one point. The strangest thing was that it was accepted then. I now ask myself why I didn’t question it then when I saw it going on around me. I suppose we didn’t have the voice then, and we certainly didn’t have the online media like today.
There were many things back in those days that were blatantly wrong, but weren’t questioned because it was the accepted thing. Sexual harassment at work was a big one. It was usually men making demeaning comments to women who were discriminated against just because they were women. They weren’t allowed to do the same jobs or things as men because they weren’t capable.
I do recall being made a laughing-stock in the seventies. I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I left school. I wanted something different from just office or shop work, which was the expected career of girls then. I went to the RAF recruitment office and told them I would like to join up, but what I really wanted to do was become a pilot. I can still see the look on the recruiter’s face as he said there were no women pilots; it was a job for a man. I came out feeling silly, but at the same time wondering why couldn’t I? Why is it a job for a man? My dad, when he found out, thought it was hilarious and told all his friends. My mum just shook her head in disbelief. Almost like, didn’t I know my place? My brother just thought I was an idiot.
I’m glad to say that all that has changed now. Women are equal to men and there is no (or no much) discrimination going on because of sex these days. I believe that the Sex Discrimination act which was brought in 1975 was part of the legalisation ruling by the European Court of Justice. The same people we have just spilt from.
It is a shame the same can’t be said for racial decimation, too. Sometimes we seem to be going back in time just when I thought we had learnt from the past. It’s sad and just as shocking and I just hope going forward we can find harmony.