How it Feels to Be Brown in Britain

Do you know what I was thinking as I watched the police swarm the cordoned sites of London following the recent attacks? Things are going to get a lot worse.

Not in terms of more cowardly attacks by the ever alienated Daesh, rather in terms of racial hate crime in Britain.

There have been a multitude of acts of kindness following the devastation of Manchester and London- people have come together in droves, presenting a stance of solidarity and unity. Simultaneously, the uneducated and intolerant amongst us have risen like scum to the surface, capitalising on fear and preying on the brown people. Naturally my response has been to unfriend on social media as appropriate or to attempt to present a rational argument to an irrational bully. From my experience so far, it doesn’t work.

You cannot create dialogue with someone who is overcome by hatred. The parallels between the neo-Nazis I’ve faced online and the perps identified from recent terror attacks are blatantly apparent. An extremist is an extremist, no matter what colour they are or where they come from.

The irony is, I’m less afraid of shrapnel bombs than I am old white men, who seem to find themselves entitled to jab greasy sausage fingers in my face and tell me I need to go back to my own country.  It’s a tired routine and a problematic demand (as I was born in this country, pal) and yet, at the age of twenty-two, it still packs an emotional punch.

Most small-minded bigots fail to recognise that the Asian umbrella happens to accommodate for many other faiths other than Islam including (but not limited to) that of Hinduism and Sikhism. Since bullies cannot distinguish a difference, everybody is Muslim (which apparently is synonymous with terrorism) and therefore all brown people are the enemy. Half of my life has been spent being taunted by welfare-exploiting chavs, shouting ‘paki’ at the top of their lungs. They weren’t even intelligent enough to insult me right. Now I’m grown up, so the response has shifted more to the subtlety of lingering looks on the train or confusion by my appearance (the tattoos tend to trip people up). There are the odd people who take an interest in me but this is often played down by the delivery of that classic line, ‘you’re pretty attractive for an Asian’. You know what? I’m tired of this shit.

And this would be bad enough but I made the mistake of talking to an Alan from Wibsey, with whom I became embroiled in a spat after the Manchester attacks. I want to highlight some of Alan’s fundamental arguments so that you might see exactly how it is that I’ve come to the conclusion that he’s bloody stupid.

  • Alan’s viable solution to radicalisation is to deport brown people. His logic, I think, is that if there are no brown people here then there is nobody to radicalise. And no Sharia Law, which is interesting because as far as I’m aware, we don’t have Sharia Law here… If all Asians went back to where they came from, terrorism would apparently come to an overnight halt. Theresa May wouldn’t even have to stop trading with the Saudis because there is no link between our government and the financial perpetuation of terrorism- the fault is with the Quran and the brown people who read it… Alan has actively excluded his children from engaging with Muslims and ‘religious people’ on account of the fact he thinks they are bat-shit crazy. Obviously, he is yet to realise that in raising his kids this way, he is breeding the same intolerance and ignorance that are said to lead to acts of terrorism… I will not dignify this deportation argument with a proper response because I actually feel like I might lose brain cells in having to engage with this level of idiocy.
  • Alan, like many others, practically spits out immigration as though it’s a dirty word. News flash: it’s not. As for the refugee crisis, he disagrees with the notion we should be taking in children and vulnerable adults from war-torn countries (that we’ve helped to destroy). I imagine if the tables were turned and Britain were reduced to rubble that Alan might change his stance as he fled across the channel, begging for solace and comfort at another country’s border. Admittedly, I feel that there are numerous ways we could strategise immigration. Yet we must also recognise that the foundations of society as we know it, including services such as the NHS, have survived only with the crutches of influx from abroad. This stereotype needs to stop: I’m sorry mate, but my relatives didn’t immigrate to this country under the premise of wanting to steal your jobs or your women. In fact, they came over (with their own women) and with invaluable skills such as teaching only to be demoted to working industrial jobs that supported the British economy. And did they complain? No. They worked their measly hours and supported their families. As a result, I grew up with the privilege of an extensive education with a policeman for a dad and social worker for a mum: I grew up in the company of people from a plethora of cultures and religious beliefs. If we’d have stood side-by-side at high school, we’d have had more skin swatches than Loreal’s new foundation range. I am proud to know so many wonderful people who transcend any ethnicity/religious belief/sexuality boxes on an application form. I hail from one of the most diverse cities in the country and I will not see it be ruined by the likes of you, Alan. I am just as entitled to belong here as you are.
  • According to Alan, Muslims are the poster-boys and girls for terrorism. I don’t think Alan is well read as he seems to be oblivious to the KKK, IRA, Westboro Baptist Church, Holocaust, Rhineland Massacres and British Imperialism (to name but a few) which have caused death tolls in the millions all in the name of some omniscient god or power-crazy leader. I am willing to bet the rest of my student overdraft on the fact that Alan obtains his views directly from The Sun. I can hear the faint echo of Rupert Murdoch’s bitches, those fictional writers with not a scrap of dignity to their names, in his sentiments and it sort of makes me feel violently sick. The Islamic faith should not be tarnished by the actions of some barbaric, disenfranchised sub-humans. I think the repulsion towards Daesh has been explicitly evidenced: Muslim leaders have refused to grant London attackers religious funerals, thousands of Muslims have marched across Britain in condemnation of the acts and the entirety of Manchester were united in a synchronised ‘fuck you’ stance that was comprised of people from all backgrounds.

Alan, you’re wrong. And I know that deep down inside you will realise someday that your toxic beliefs are deadly for everyone, including yourself.

I also know that you will not be the last.

Many people have repeatedly stated that love will prevail and do you know what? I really think it will. I will not be spending the rest of my days trembling in fear. I will not be granting the Alans of the world the satisfaction of giving in but I won’t be chasing trouble, either. Those who want to dehumanise me will inevitably be drawn like flies to shit- my skin colour is enough for a really small minority of people to feel like they’re entitled to swoop in and spout their nonsense. I’m going to make an active effort to welcome that nonsense with calmness and composure, when it’s possible. I don’t have the time to feel this angry and this tired, anymore. So instead, I’m going to use the dregs of these negative emotions as the fuel for everything I do from here.

There is hope so long as there is potential for change and right now, this country is on the precipice. There is no going back- we are mixed together and despite our differences, we must persist and remain vigilant as whole communities. There is beauty in difference and I’m blessed to be surrounded by compassionate friends and family who embrace this. We’ve strived to derive as much positivity from the responses to the awful events recently because it’s the only way to move forward and the only way to overcome.


3 thoughts on “How it Feels to Be Brown in Britain

  1. I really enjoyed reading this. Thank you for sharing. I hope if I pass you in the street and you catch me looking at your tats with curiosity, I remember to smile. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the kind words 🙂 I posted impulsively and really didn’t expect to receive so much attention so, as you can imagine, people taking the time to read and respond to this post is pretty humbling… As for the passing in me in the street scenario, I’d be sure to smile right back!


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