I periodically write a column known as “the way I see it” in the county’s weekly news paper. I was asked to write on this week and I have just submitted it.
Here is a slightly longer version of it.
Last week a radio presenter from the BBC’s radio Bristol was sacked, because she asked a taxi firm not to send an Asian driver to pick up her daughter from school, as ” the turban the drivers wear will frighten the life out of her”. Am not sure how old her daughter is but I would see it as the fear of the unknown,rather than racism?
Anyway the question was asked; Is Somerset racist”?
Here is my article, I want to know what you all think,your feed back will be very welcome.
“Last week the question was asked by the BBC; is Somerset racist”?
I have lived in Somerset most of my adult life and I can categorically say that I have never been a victim of any prejudice or racism, but am sure a lot of people will disagree with me, perhaps their experiences are not the same as mine.
So what is racism?
There are various dictionary definitions; one is that when someone considers that they are of a superior race, hence they look down on other races.
I do not think this is true.
I believe that it has its origins in fear and ignorance.
Fear of the unknown, which leads to lack of understanding on both side, as neither knows what the other person is about.
When we came to Taunton in 1972, I think we were the only Asian couple in town! People were interested to know about us and I was eager to tell them!
It helped that I did not feel different, if anyone didn’t like me I did not assume that it was because of my colour or race, everyone is entitled to their likes and dislikes it is not necessarily based on hidden prejudice.
It also helps if one joins in the community, gets involved in voluntary work and other public services. I have seen very few people from Asian community in voluntary work.
A report today says that 78% of Asians don’t actually know what fostering is, compared to 14% of the general population.
I do accept that in recent years the opening of the borders has increased the number of new comers,
that and the economic climate has changed and there is a bigger competition for jobs, and that has certainly increased tensions, I read with sadness of the racial incidents in the County.
Some of those incidents could be due to sheer frustration and economic difficulties, and not because someone hates the race of another or considers his race to be superior, as definition implies.
I cannot speak for other parts of the country, I can speak for Somerset.
I have lived, worked and raised a family here, and have been part of this community most of my adult life.
I have been the first to extend a hand of friendship, and it has always been warmly received. Throughout the ups and downs of my life, my neighbors and friends have been there for me.
So what is the magic formula?
The answer is I have none, it is simply a matter of give and take, I have given little, but received a lot of warmth, friendship and support throughout.
I find that institutions and charity organizations are more than eager for the people from ethnic minorities to come on board; from the BBC to various committees and charities, I know I have been there. It is the best way to get to know a community.
Get to know your neighbors and your workmates, may be try to understand their point of view, perhaps that will be the beginning of a life long and beautiful friendship.
The assumption that he/she dislikes you simply because of your race/colour is often unfounded,
Worth a try!