Have you ever been a witness to or encountered racism?
I was 15 years old and really cared about ‘fitting in’.
At the school I attended the cool kids happened to be white male - in their entirety. They travelled in a group of around 10-12 people. ‘Lads’ as we aptly call them in England.
But in this I’d say ‘idio*s obsessed with their own delusions of grandeur’. Of course I wanted ‘IN’ on that grandeur so I was complicit in the idiocy.
At that age, ‘reputation’ for the most ridiculous things brought Social Equity. And that means a lot when you’re in a poor school that’s 85% white lower working class as a British Indian; and just 15 years old in general.
For the story of my life head here
I didn’t really fit in at the best of times:
Huge eyebrows. A tee-pee haircut. A suit too big for me. And this is me AT 16. At 14 I also had braces. Was skinnier still. And I had a nicely developed ‘moustache’ that gave cause for classmates to push back against me even more.
I didn’t really fit in.
My gateway was football/soccer. I captained the school football team and had a gift for sport. I was in the rubgy, hockey and rounders team; which I also captained. This bought me tolerance/acceptance.
And being someone who forever had struggled to fit in - all I sought was acceptance. So what a shameful thing I’d like to admit here then.
We were upon a bus. 12 of us lads. Me being the only boy of colour. There was a gentle Sikh man wearing a turban upon the bus. One of the rowdier members of the group, standing at 190cm already at 15 years old was Griffin.
’Oi mate…! Oi mate?! - how’s it hanging?'
The man looked across at Griffin and then flicked his eyes at me in confusion and a search for understanding. All the guys were laughing whilst I sat there silently. My heart sank.
’You know - all that hair’.
He turned back quietly to his seated forward facing position and Griffin let out a final comment. 'Go on - look away then!'
Griffin turned at me and patted me on the back and said 'Deeps - I don’t like Paki’s, Singh’s, Sikh’s or Punjab’s or any of your kind. But you’re alright!'
I smiled ever so slightly to appease him.
I had said nothing and felt so ashamed of myself. I cried at home that night. I had deeply disappointed myself. 14 years later and there is only one from that group I remain in touch with.
But the memory still haunts me sometimes.
For more of my musings upon life head here
transcribed from witness to racism