I wouldn’t normally work on a blog on a Thursday night as I’ve just done an 11 hour day and I’m knackered but an incident on the way home angered me, which prompted me to do this. Also, excuse the title of this blog and some of the language in it but it has a point…..
On the way home I was walking through Stokes Croft in Bristol and walking past yet another crowd of cloyingly dull middle class Hipsters hanging around braying loudly at each other in an attempt to be heard and seen. Harmless enough, if somewhat tedious.
Walking in front on me were two chaps in suits walking home from work. How do I know they were coming from work? Because I saw them walk from their office which was near mine, so we walked the same road from the centre of Bristol to Stokes Croft with me ambling away behind them.
Anyhow, as they walked past these Hipsters they started excitedly talking to each other which is where I walk by them to hear this snippet:
”yeah, yeah, two black guys in suits, must be pimps”
This made me snap round and flash them a look of ‘you fucking what??” , and I though the thought of ‘racist cunts’ had stayed in my brain but the look on their faces and the fact I felt my lips move told me I’d said it out loudly and scared the living fuck out of these kids as a large Scotsman is aggressively calling them racist cunts, which of course they were.
Now the point is I wasn’t so much angry at the sort of casual racism you often see, especially from privileged student Hipster types who probably haven’t lived in multicultural working class areas in their lives, but the fact that my calling them ‘kids’ downplays the facts that at 18 or 19 you should bloody well know better, regardless where you’re from or your upbringing because it’s the 21st century.
This is where I make my own confession here that when I was younger I regularly used to use language I’d never imagine coming out my mouth. I used to call the corner shop the ”Paki shop’ as many a Glaswegian used to back in the 70’s. Then I started getting Asian friends and I realised quickly the work ‘Paki’ was being used as a horrible pejorative mainly by racists, but people casually using it was deeply bloody offensive.
I was 12 when I learned that. I even managed to get my mother to stop using the word (and she was very anti-bigotry) when she realised it was hurting people, as she’d been called a ”Tim” often enough in her life , so she stopped.
I used to throw around the word ‘poof’ like it was going out of business. I was even party to a horrible piece of vile homophobia disguised as a parody of American Flagg! called American Fagg! for a comic fanzine a bunch of us did in Glasgow about 1983 or so. All of us should have known better, and the artist went on to do better things and make a nice career out of comics so I won’t name them, but I know we’ve looked back at that and cringed like fuckity.
Then I started meeting gay people as one of the places people used to go who were a bit punky/goth/alternative in Glasgow in the 80’s was a club called Bennets, which was a very, very, very gay club. It was also astonishingly safe, and you didn’t end up with someone trying to beat you up with a lump of scaffolding because you’re trying to be Christopher Lambert from Subway, and you look a bit weird.
Bennets was a learning curve. The regulars were very nice to us straights who would go in, and when the lads from AKA and SF Bookshop (Edinburgh’s book and comic shop) used to go out we always had a fun night out, and when even Pete Root (part owner of AKA and old married hippy) was propositioned by a young lad he took it as a compliment. In short, I grew the fuck up.
I was 17.
What I’m trying to say is we’ve moved on since then, and people shouldn’t take until they’re 17 to learn that calling people pejoratives or assuming bigoted things about people based upon their race, colour or nationality should really be a thing of the past as my excuse is I probably should have know better and I was a twat, but if you’re smart enough to go to uni, then you should be smart enough to realise that being black and wearing a suit doesn’t make someone a pimp and it’s actually fucking offensive. Especially in Bristol which has done to much to show that multiculturalism works.
My hope is that my calling these people racists in the street will shake them up in the same way I was, but I’ve got this horrible feeling it won’t and their sense of entitlement will only make them feel like martyrs as really, aren’t all black people wearing suits pimps anyhow?
Next time I really will crack on with the history of Glasgow’s comic shops in the 80’s, but this needed to be dumped off my chest……..