What does it mean to be black in the UK? When does the colour of our skin speak for us and when do our actions speak louder?
Racism in the UK is very real and apparent. We cannot continue to deny it any further. Black people are often portrayed negatively by the media in comparison to their white counterparts. For example, the emphasis of the colour of their skin related to a crime or death in comparison to when a white person has committed a crime or death. Almost always their blackness is associated with negativity and discomfort rather than positivity and safety. Alternatively, this emphasis is rarely there when relating to positive news such as representing the country for a sport or making a breakthrough discovery. Suddenly they’re just “British” or “part of the team”. Their blackness is undermined in this sense.
Ever since the Euros finals with England vs Italy, I have been asking myself more questions about the double standards or racism that black people face. The fear that was installed into black people due to the aftermath of results that night is not the first time we’ve felt that way in the UK. Why are these young black boys now criminalised upon failure, when they supported the team in reaching the finals in the first place? Why is this frustration now taken out on other innocent black people who just wanted to enjoy a good football game or just wanted to get on with their lives?
Many of these racially driven attacks happened around me and it was completely uncalled for. I was unable to go anywhere for a week out of fear for my safety, and I was also contacting my black friends and family to continue checking on their safety. I should never have to be afraid to leave my house, talk my piece and live comfortably in my skin, but I was. I was afraid because racists disguised as football fans use this opportunity to maximise their racial attacks. As a black person, I shouldn't have to overachieve or go above and beyond just so my position as a human is validated. That should already be a given.
Therefore, this should be challenged more frequently. There are many ways that we can begin to break down the double standards that hold back the unity of this country and the success of black people.
The main two ways include calling out and reporting racist behaviour. This blatant racism should not be allowed to continue any further. Discrimination is a criminal offence and those who partake in it should be aware of the consequences. Therefore, if you can, call out this behaviour, report it to their workplace and see how the workplace will tackle this. Another method is looking at the media through a critical eye. If their blackness is highlighted whilst addressing something negative, look into the story more. Understand the language that is used to deform their character, and correct that as if you weren’t aware of their skin colour. On the contrary, if their blackness is overlooked with regards to positive news, celebrate their blackness, recognise that they are black and be proud of that fact. Flip the way the media presents this news. Lastly, support those black people who have been victims of these racist attacks. They need nothing more than the support of their peers and knowing that they are not alone.
It’s seen time and time again that the colour of our skin is only highlighted when paired with something negative. When positive, it is ignored and replaced with British nationality. Why should the colour of someone’s skin determine their worth? There should never be double standards and black people shouldn’t have to question their identity because of it. If you see this happening to anyone around you or online, be sure to report it or call it out. We should be celebrated as a union and as individuals.
Teenagers With Experience is an organisation created to provide teenagers worldwide with an online platform to share their own experiences to be able to help, inform and educate others on a variety of different topics. We aim to provide a safe space to all young people. You can contact us via email, social media or our contact form found on our home page.