I don’t think I realised Asian hate was such a huge part of the UK society, until I was reflecting on my childhood. I grew up in a predominantly white neighbourhood, and with this came a huge lack of Asian representation in schools. In fact, I could count on my hand the number of Asian students in my primary and secondary school classes.
And in a class of reception students, all of at that time were white, we heard news that we were getting a new classmate. And when she arrived, everyone was whispering. In fact, everyone was whispering because she had a different skin colour. My mum worked in the centre of our town, I was brought up with people of all ethnicities, without any judgement or prejudice. But everyone else was gawping and it was the only big news of the day.
The second school I went to, something similar happened. There was a new boy who had come to the school, and the teachers had named him ‘New.’ This was because his real name was too difficult to pronounce or spell for that matter. But the problem wasn’t that his name was too difficult, it was white washing in the system to make his name more accessible to the majority.
High school really wasn’t so different. Maybe it was because English schools are predominantly religious, but our RE teacher brought into our classroom the only Muslim boy who attended in the entire school. As if it was show and tell. Even at this time, I knew this was wrong, but standing up to authority had gotten me into trouble after I’d called that teacher out for homophobia. He seemed almost proud that the school had let in a student who wasn’t catholic. Even at this high school, in my year there were only around six people who weren’t white.
And with recent events, with Asian people coming out to talk about their own experiences with the ongoing pandemic, it had me thinking about times where racism had run deep down throughout our villages and been a part of the system we live in. Asian hate crimes have been rising with the idea that the pandemic came from China. People have seen their shops burnt down, their businesses have suffered, and people are getting attacked in the streets. But this isn’t just a new thing.
We’ve allowed for the discrimination on our television, Piers Morgan spoke outwardly on Good Morning Britain, mocking the language. We’ve had jokes made about food, been sent videos of live animals being eaten, You’ll have generations of young children who are ashamed of the colour of their skin, afraid of proudly showing their heritage and culture in the hopes that they will no longer feel the brunt of a white washed country.
And this isn’t even mentioning the Prime Minister’s own remarks on people of Asian descent and the support of Brexit motivated in part by the older generation based on racism towards these so-called foreigners. There is this overwhelming idea that Britain should stay how it is, and in all honesty, Britain as it is, happens to be as bad as America.
I’ve heard slurs being used before, using derogatory language against people based on their religion or cultures, simply because it’s different. There will always be these ideas, as long as people aren’t educated, and religious schools remain prevalent. Why is it that the schools that are best in the local areas and receive the highest education, also are the schools where their religion is primarily white based?
In a world where you are taught to be cruel, teach yourself to be kind. In a world where you are taught to stick to your own, branch and create with others. In a world where you are subtly taught racism, teach yourself how to effectively combat this internal fear of the unknown. And we can all learn how to spread a bit of kindness into the lives of others, and most of all #stopasianhate.