Maybe

I’m sure there are folk that get REALLY tired and annoyed with me, going on and on (and on) about these ‘phobias’ and ‘isms’ and all the other stuff. I bet there are those who’d like me to get back to telling Goon Show jokes, making caustic comment about TV, or taking selfies.

“What a jolly life it is, and why is Bea such a BORE all the time!”

Maybe you get embarrassed because I take an occasional swing at your favourite ideology or cause? Maybe I come over sounding anti-feminist, when in reality I’m just anti-bigotry? Maybe you would prefer I stopped rocking the boat and toed the Party line (whatever line that happens to be at the moment)? Maybe you think I have no right to speak, because you assume I’m a middle-class teacher who likes to pontificate about things ‘she’ (but you really mean ‘he’) knows nothing about?

I can sense all this in the wind.

Maybe you live in a nice neighbourhood, and have a nicely secure job that brings in enough money for you to do as you will, buy what you want, and go where you please? You get sad at the idea of people who don’t have these privileges, but when push comes to shove you drop back to your religious or ideological beliefs, say a prayer, or organise a committee who will issue a report. And life goes on as it always has. Nothing changes, because at heart you don’t really want it to change. That’s good of course, because your life and privileges stay the same.

Maybe you’re a member of a Leftist party, and have spent many a day sitting in committees and groups arguing enthusiastically for minority rights, and writing papers galore on the subject. You go on marches, say all the right things, and wait for the next election to put things right. But when you leadership fails to speak out about injustice and seems mealy-mouthed about engaging with public bigotry, you get all defensive when those most affected speak out in criticism.

Maybe you’ve had people preach to you about meritocracy? They tell you how success is all about work and determination. Of course they don’t mention the luck that gave them their opportunities, or the fact that they look and sound like everyone else in their ‘elite’ social circle.

Maybe you’ve never had hate graffiti sprayed on your walls? Maybe you’ve never had an anxiety about your appearance before you go out? Maybe you’ve never had to worry endlessly about where the next pound coin is coming from? Maybe you have had to bite your tongue when a boss makes an insulting joke, but you know you could be victimised if you speak out? Maybe you’ve never had a bunch of kids ridicule you in public? Maybe you’ve never had the frustration of having those with influence simply mouth platitudes in response to everything you have to say? Maybe you’ve never felt lost, alone, and betrayed because the people you loved have failed to stand up and support you when your world is caving in?

Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

If all this sounds like racism, then be surprised: I’ve experienced all of it.