Friday, 5 September 2014

Holiday Snaps: Nowhere near a post-racial Europe

Mythical curiosity
Maybe to my mind that is the case, but there are possibilities that I have been in places where I am probably the only ethnic minority for miles.
Now, it does not bother me, though there seems to be an exotic and sometimes erotic quality to my presence as curiosity and myth collude in a bizarre setting of becoming the cynosure and object of interest.
This can be comfortable as in where over 40 Turkish school children gathered round me for a photograph in the amphitheatre of antiquity amongst the ruins of Ephesus to where some young men with other interests appeared to sit with me for a picture but had their hands in all my empty pockets.
Keep your valuables in your hotel
I am the wiser to know that when going out at night never to take anything of value with me, the list of those things includes passport, wallet, lots of money and most particularly my mobile phone.
The mobile phone which can be replaced is a lot more valuable than we realise, it contains address books of contact details and information that cannot be easily retrieved as pictures and certain utilities or application settings too important to be without as banking apps, navigation tools and so on.
This became evident last night when a lady, I used that word loosely, got herself so inebriated that she became a victim of opportunistic crime. She lost both her money and her mobile phone to one of the many who look for the vulnerable to exploit. Spurting out expletive after expletive would not have changed the situation and the more she railed, the less it made it to help her, I was saddened for her sake.
No one should be a victim of crime, whether vulnerable or not, yet, one cannot absolve the victim totally from blame if a few precautions were taken as leaving valuables in the hotel and drinking sensibly. The phone had much treasure pictures of her daughter, but thieves are not people who place any value on anything we hold dear. The phone would be pawned off for a pittance just because, I’ll leave it at that.
Impressions about black people
Back to what I began with and I have not written about this before, the fact that regardless of how open and free Europe appears to be, we are nowhere near a post-racial society where stereotypes, prejudices and ascribed attitudes define how people are viewed.
I cannot count the number of times I have been approached by people who assume I have hard drugs to peddle. The idea being that mainly what black people do, they do not have conventional careers or professions but live on the edges of society fully involved in some sort of criminality.
Where you wonder do you begin to tackle this rotten misconception and image of people of my race, many of us, honest, decent, upright and hopefully respectable members of society and the communities with which we work and live?
Fuck Off!
So, this Swedish couple approached me, the man sat beside me and then asked if I had smokes to sell. When I responded in the negative, not only was he displeased, he intoned, “Not good.” Basically, he genuinely expected me to be peddling drugs and never expected me to be doing anything otherwise, it was obvious he approached me because of my race rather than any other factor.
Somewhere in his preconceptions, that is what we did. The slight and gravity of disrespect seething with insidious racism was compounded by the fact not an apology was offered for this effrontery of atrocious stereotyping.
I was half-angered and I am minded to blurt out an uncharacteristic – Fuck Off! – When next I am approached for drugs. Not my kind of expression, but it would be more than effective in helping such idiots realise than we should be approached with great caution, if the intention is to belittle us with association with criminality rather than quality of character and better assumptions of status and achievement.
We are nowhere near a post-racial Europe, even for those of us with a very high self-esteem and well-developed sense of self.

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