On ‘Wear Red Day 2018’ to ‘Show Racism the Red Card’, local campaigner Mini Mangat shares her thoughts on how to create a more inclusive society. 

Is our country racist, is there racism in our local communities and neighbourhoods?

The language may have changed somewhat but the sentiments remain. Overt explicit statements of racism may not be as widely used as they once were, but statements such as ‘All the foreigners need to leave, we are an island and we will sink if this doesn’t stop’ is clear covert racism.

Sadly, I have personally been subjected to three separate incidents of direct racism within the last 12 months, unfortunately statistics show that racism is on the rise! The 3 incidents were in areas in the North and South of the country and a recent incident right here in my hometown of Leamington Spa, where I was born and have resided for most of my life.

Although I did experience racism in the early 90’s, I did think we had come a long way since then and that equality and equity had flourished and grown with me but it’s now clear that we still have a lot of work to do! It seems that suddenly ‘hate’ has come back round harder than ever..  It is hard not to note from the statistics, the particular rise in numbers of hate crime in 2016. The EU referendum was highly divisive and as is well-documented, was followed in some areas by very unpleasant racial and religious hate incidents. The continuing rise into 2017/18 may also reflect the tensions caused by the terrorist attacks last year.

For years racism has been defined as far right extremism but a more insidious kind of prejudice can be found where many least expect it, at the heart of respectable society, right here in our local communities.

"My message is simple, help me to be brave and show racism the red card!" Mini Mangat, local campaigner
Mini Mangat, local campaigner

Each incident I experienced shocked me but in particular the one in my neighbourhood, I felt very vulnerable and it left me feeling very sad.  What outraged me the most was that its 2018, and in my neighbourhood that I perceive as a ‘hate free zone’, I had experienced such atrocity.  It really hurts to know that my mere existence offends someone! On reflection I wish I had dealt with the racial incidents I have experienced by challenging the perpetrators as well as shouting out about racism, and not by thinking it is something I should tolerate.

Every person should feel safe,and not be made to feel vulnerable in any situation.  Hindsight is always a teacher and the learnings I take from these incidents is to call it out and shout out against racism.  Racism hurts so why keep quiet! Microaggressions can effect self-esteem and it’s up to us to make sure this doesn’t happen to the future generation.  We can and must take down and dismantle all the social, cultural and racial barriers that our times are suffering.

We have to do whatever we can as a community and a nation to eradicate this insidious societal disease. Each of us need to do our own part, if we see instances of racism, shout out against racism! We have laws in this country against racism. I encourage people to not whisper but make a song and dance, shout out against any type or form of racism.

Perhaps the vast majority of the population is resolutely anti-racist, valuing our vibrant, rich and diverse society, however, if all communities and neighbourhoods stood in unity to shout out against racism and ‘show racism the red card’ personally for me that would be utopia! Every race should feel safe in our neighbourhoods, communities, towns and cities. This is why we need to shout out against racism!

My message is simple, help me to be brave and shout out against racism!

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