There’s a racist line in my upcoming book Orphan Sisters set in 1950’s London; ‘Go back to where you came from!’ and today in 2017 I got told the same thing.
It took a while for the words of this stranger to register and when they did, I decided to confront her. This was very out of character for me, but then again, it’s not everyday someone shouts such bile in my direction.
I am under no elusions. I believe there to be a vast number of people who after looking at me, have thought such things in their mind. Let’s face it, we don’t actually live in a candy floss sprinkled world. You know, a world where every human being is seen as an equal regardless of skin colour or who they pray to.
We. Do. Not.
If you still think we do and ‘It aint that bad’ then the battering over the head with the recent US elections, Brexit and the rise of far right groups in various European countries has not been enough of a rude awakening for you. And if so, feel free to snuggle up to your teddy bear, close your eyes and sleep this one out.
I was told not to take it personally, ‘It’s okay, it’s just what idiots say.’ Well of course I’m not taking it personally. This cretin did not know me as a person. But in no way does she get a free pass. No. She needs to know that this is not okay.
She will hopefully think twice about singling out an innocent person in the street again.
Or maybe she wont.
I’m all for relating to the characters I write about and before this incident really felt I did. But the thought of being constantly told to ‘Go back to where you come from!’ and gazing at signs written on paper stuck to windows that read, ‘No Dogs, No Blacks, No Irish,’ can eventually take its toll on the psyche. It has to in varying degrees. I guess that’s why I wrote Orphan Sisters. I wanted to highlight the links between racism and mental health issues. After all, I am a mental health professional as well as a writer. I have seen the detrimental effects of racism on the psyche far too many times.
I salute my parents, aunties, uncles and every one of those from the ‘British colonies’ who in the 1950’s dared to come to this country and make a way. My heart goes out to anyone who in 2017 feels that HAVE to.
So have recent world events (see above) merely blanketed the average racist with an extra coat of bravery?Yes. No. Who knows? Does it matter? Yes.
I also believe that what ‘she’ said, what various right wing publications say and what certain politicians say in 2017 is NOT OK.