Respect

The post Brexit world is upon us. We live in a nation divided like never before. Where one half of the country is requesting that the other half respects their vote and accepts the result. I’ve given the request some thought, placed it within my own perspective and would like to offer my response.

Not everyone liked the post war order that laid down plans for a caring and unified society. A certain small section of the right wing establishment particularly did not like Continue reading “Respect”

Unintended Consequences

There are just six days left till the UK population casts its vote and answers the big question of 2016. To Brexit? Or not to Brexit? Everyone has had a lot to say on the issue. Each side have made threats as to what the future holds. On the Remain side, these have been thinly veiled threats. On the Leave side, these have been largely made up threats. But it’s all a matter of perspective, I guess. Continue reading “Unintended Consequences”

Racism International Inc

How is Mexico better than the UK, asked no one ever. Well, there’s the weather. And the food. And the chicas. And the friendly faces. And especially the weather. And the fresh fruits. And the racists, too. Let’s big it up for the Mexican racists. They don’t, quite frankly, get the credit that they deserve. How so are Mexican racists better than UK racists, you might wonder. Well, I have no scientific proof, empirical evidence or hearsay to offer. Just personal experience.

I have been the ‘victim’ of racial abuse twice. The most recent episode happened just a couple of hundred metres from home, a week or so ago. I had seen the chap loitering about Westbourne, earlier. White, shaven headed, casual attire, chunky set of headphones stuck on his head. He looked a bit spaced out. Looks can be deceiving. Our conversation was more than simply ‘spaced out’.

Are you English?

Errr…(wondering where this is going)..yes.

No, you’re not.

I’m pretty sure I am.

No you’re f*****g not, are you!

Ok. But actually I am.

There was a strange pause. Where does the conversation go from here? I shrugged and decided to let him finish it with himself, and carried on walking. A moment later I heard him launch into a tirade of colourful language, with the gist being that I should go home to my own country. It was utterly surreal. For those who might be passing this way for the first time, I should qualify, or rather disqualify, his ham fisted attempt at racial profiling. I am white, 6 foot tall, blue/grey eyes, fair haired and when my skin does have any colour to it, after a little too much sun, you would most definitely associate the tone with English Lobster Red. I was born in London to parents born in London to grandparent born in London and so on. I have an unmistakeably English accent.

How did my racist friend get it so wrong? One can only assume that he’d made up his mind that I was a Polish or other European immigrant and felt it unnecessary to remove those bulky headphones in order to confirm his initial prejudice by actually listening to my responses. In the industry of racial ignorance and hatred, the bar for membership is already set pretty low. This guy dropped it on the floor. Dang, he buried it.

Once upon a time in Mexico, I was asked by a homeless chap for some pesos. I had none. After I had walked a safe distance past he started yelling. ‘Pinch ingles!!’ Over and over. Well, at least three times. Was I offended? No, I was thoroughly impressed. He had managed to identify my nationality correctly, and had not gone for the more likely and obvious Yankee critique. See, Mexican racists are better than British racists. They’re smarter, more thoughtful and more considerate. One nil to Mexico.

Racial prejudice is alive and well, everywhere. Sometimes it’s overt. Often it’s disguised by those who attempt to disguise their prejudice as ‘refreshing candor’. You know the sort. The sentence starts with, ‘I’m not racist, but…‘. And then there are those who are simply unthinkingly ignorant. The latter bunch are not necessarily a bad sort. Just poorly informed, or maybe inclined to speak then think, or perhaps just expressing negative experiences of their own.

The ethnic demographic did change noticeably during my time in Mexico. There are now tons of Polish people in the UK. I like them. They are easy to spot. They are the guys who are usually working that bit harder than the others. My racist friend should take note of that when next choosing a recipient for his ignorance. And amend his spiel – go back and work hard and be productive in your own country while I despoil the local environment and waste perfectly good air by my continuing refusal to cease breathing. Personally, I think we could do with a few more Poles and a few less Brits.

There is a downside to all this immigration though. I thought upon returning to England that I’d be safe to use my real name again when out and about.  Hugh Juan could be retired. Alas, it was not to pass. This was a better attempt that some, but it’s not the right spelling. And I do hope Mrs P didn’t notice her new name…

IMG_20140622_155703

Race And Sex In Latin America

This is an oft touched on subject, particularly with those who spend more than just a weeks holiday in Mexico. The subject of race, and racism in particular. I remember one of my earliest conversations, with a student. I mentioned that I hadn’t in the months I’d been in the city, once felt that my skin colour had been a disadvantage. She looked up, and with no look of surprise on her face, simply stated that ‘there is no racism’ in Mexico.

Actually there is, and I’ve mentioned it before, more than once. I am often discriminated against because of my skin colour. All the time. Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for millions of Mexicans, it is usually a form of positive discrimination. Although there are occasions, in touristy areas, where the opposite is true, and a street vendor will think he can charge me more than the going rate for a cigarro suelto or whatever.

You need only look at the political hierarchy of Mexico. The top echelons of businesses in Mexico. Even when I walk into a blue chip firm to give classes I am confronted by them. White faces. Sometimes, exclusively. Particularly with females I’ve noticed. So it’s easy to declare, without fear of contradiction, that racism is at play. In its near two hundred years of existence, there has only once been an indigenous looking president. The next one won’t be the second. The likely suspects are in the image at the bottom of the post.

And yet. And yet. White Mexicans look down on light brown Mexicans. Light brown Mexicans look down on dark brown Mexicans. But US Mexicans of all shades look down on all Mexico Mexicans. These are generalisations, I know, but it occurs often enough to have some validity. How does it all work? Go figure. Perhaps all this has more to do with being percieved as being as ‘non Mexican’ as possible, which is not dependent on skin colour, but can obviously be influenced by what skin colour ‘represents’.

I could be here another five years and still not really have a full grasp on the Mexican psyche. But anyway. Here’s another point of view or three. A segment of a BBC Thinking Aloud podcast, which deals with the subject, with main focus on Mexico and Brazil.