Tag Archives: UK

Young and black in Babylondon: part three

“You from Trinidad! But you not half-caste!”

“I’m sorry?”

Walking out of Brixton tube station and into the rain, my forlorn pink umbrella, long conquered by the wind, hanging uselessly by my side.

“Excuse me miss!”

The voice, polite and distinctly not English, cut through the insistent chorus of skunkweedtravelcardsgetyourhighgrade.

I paused. An older man, in his 60s, and dressed in the fashion of the dapper older man, smiled at me, umbrella extended in greeting. “No sense in getting the locs wet. Come, I walk you to the bus stop.”

“You are very kind,” I said, awkwardly, guiltily thrusting one hand into my pocket to check that my wallet was still there.

“You from Trinidad! But you not half-caste!”

“I’m sorry?” I said, deafened by the wind and the rain and Brixtonian confusion.

“You not half-caste – you know, dougla, mixed!”

“Oh! Oh, yes, haha!”

There was my bus, there was I stammering out the usual explanation, taken aback by the phrase, wondering at the implications.

“Thank you, that was very kind.”

I ran.

Continue reading Young and black in Babylondon: part three

Young and black in Babylondon: part deux

“I’m sorry, did you say you worked for the…?”

An arched eyebrow, a quizzical look, a quick reappraisal of the dreadlocks, the accent (could she be American? perhaps Welsh?), the attitude, the general foreign-ness.

“Oh! Well!”

And so on, and such like.

It’s not that I’m the only black person in the building, at these conferences I attend, or the events I often cover. It’s just that I’m often the only one not waiting tables, or collecting coats, or generally clearing up the detritus of the Establishment.

Surprise surprise, for I am unaccountably articulate, and bright and clean, and I work in the very heart of a City where “diversity” does not quite look like me.

“So are you going home to Jamaica for the holiday?”

“I’ve never been to Jamaica, but I am looking forward to going back to Trinidad.”

Smile brightly, look them right in the eye.

“So, what do you speak in the Caribbean? African?”

But sometimes you have to blink.

Stiff Upper Lip

Or, why even in spite of Blair, I back the Brits.

I quote AndrewSullivan:

A carefully drafted civil registration scheme could command support from people of all political affiliations and of none. By instinct, Tories are, rightly, wary of change – especially change based on abstract egalitarian theorising. But we accept changes that remove justified grievances, that tackle particular problems affecting people in their daily lives. So I appeal to my fellow Conservatives, inside and outside Parliament, to see the case for civil partnership. Changing the law, in this case, is not about political correctness. It is about personal decency. A law that effectively pretends gay couples don’t exist is indefensible. As we do at our best, let us accept the need for change and concentrate on the detail of a Bill to improve the lot of a sizeable minority of our fellow citizens.

That strikes me as a genuinely conservative statement. The Brits, with their usual pragmatism, will avoid the stark moral arguments of Americans – pro and con – and go about fixing an obvious legal anomaly. It seems inevitable that Britain will have gay marriage in effect by the fall. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart makes the same pragmatic step. Are we reaching a “tipping point”?

It is about personal decency

Yes. Yes. Exactly.