We Stand with You, Home Secretary

Racial discrimination which does not match your description or your experiences. Dissipating the expression of unfairness that others have felt because it does not pander to your association bias. Cognitive dissonance, because others stories don't fit your scripts – this does not in any way make their experiences less real than yours.

This week the Home Secretary stood in front of a crowd of overtly judgmental opponents who pounced to invalidate her feelings of when she was called a ‘paki’, racially abused on the streets in the country she calls home, when she was compared to a fat cow. The left are hardly rational and pragmatic when it comes to running a country but undermining the very cause they claim to own is just plain ludicrous.

My own experience of racism is surreal and in no way the same as Priti's. I was born and raised in Delhi, moved to the UK only about ten years ago. Growing up in India as the comfortable middle class surrounded by similar folk, the concept of racism doesn’t really hold any meaning. Or at least for us it didn’t. India operates on a class system more than race (although the race issue does seem to be coming back).

Moving to England was exciting and adventurous at the same time. Having a job in the City and getting our first home in Kensington in London was comfortable and rose tinted. Surrounded by like-minded people mostly, meeting people in the City, talking about children and general plans about life was the perfect start to a thriving first world life.

Till one day while playing in a park with my children an elderly lady shouted at my children - asking them to go back home. My husband was furious and without thinking much reacted with indignation but also with resignation, as if he’d heard this type of comment hundreds of times before (my husband is London-born, of Indian descent).

Baffled at the drama that unfolded and the readiness with which my husband responded was something I wasn’t used to. Neither were my daughter, who had just moved from Bombay and had lived a life surrounded by drivers and ‘ayas'. Taking this as a one off isolated incidence we carried on with our lives.

A few months later at a dinner with supposedly well-read and well-traveled acquaintances we sat down to eat when after a few glasses of wine and some light-hearted conversations one of the men told me to “go back home." I was lost for words as the concept of racism, discrimination directed at me was still alien. I just thought the man was utterly uncouth and rude and left it at that. The rest of the evening was filled with awkward silences but no one tackled what had unfolded earlier.

It’s been over ten years now since I arrived in the UK and we have moved to the countryside, having the quintessential British lifestyle. But slowly the whole concept of unconscious bias, subtle remarks and sometimes straightforward racist behaviour has become an uncomfortable reality. In my opinion these people who suggest and insinuate any form of racism to feel better have a personality complex. They might even fall into Alfred Binet's test on the lower quartile.

They do not engage me, in fact I feel sorry for them. Their behaviour does need to be called out.

Now, the fact is I have been lucky; that I haven’t been called a ‘paki’ or worse on the streets, my children haven’t come back home crying or complaining (well if that happens, hell hath no fury on the person who touches an Indian mother’s children). But this gives absolutely no-one the right to say that my experiences are not sobering, they haven’t scarred me, haven’t made me think about the utter naivety of human beings. I was hurt, probably just as much as anyone else who faced discrimination.

I will not judge other people’s experiences and neither will I let anyone, including the lefties, judge me. I won’t vandalize statues, throw bottles at the police, or rant at people.

Next time I see a racist acting as such, I will walk away as I always do. Because they don’t matter. And next time I speak of my experiences. I want the left to listen.

Kanwal Gill, Diversity and Inclusion Expert

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