Chip on the Shoulder

10300228_331908453624052_217828660417064844_nMinutes after this photograph was taken in the small park at the centre of leafy  De Beauvoir  (East London) a man  lolloped by on that pathway shouting “Black monkey” repeatedly.  I was the only black man in the small park which was packed with sun bathers. Everyone heard the man shouting. Nobody said a word.A few days later I’m in the fine city of Londonderry filming in The Diamond. It's  a roundabout with a statue slightly smaller than De Beauvior. Minutes after this photograph, the one below, was taken  a car passed by with three men inside.  One  them  shouted  “You black baIMG_5661stard.” Everyone heard it.The interviewer (not pictured) turned and memorized the registration number. Another car pulled over. The driver wound his window down. “I’m sorry” he said.And  I replied “I know they’re not representative of the people”. His passenger leaned over  and said “I’m afraid they are. But it’s a small percentage and it’s not us.”.Back in London I’m in a private club for creatives. Make of that what you will. I was recounting a story about  racism because these things, these events,  have an effect on my life in spite of me.    My friend, a white English person, said   “You’ve got a chip on your shoulder”. Then it must be so. It figures that the raped woman who recounts stories of sexism with a new understanding of the male has the same chip.  And the abused child who tracks  stories of abusers wiht a new understanding of adults has the same chip.  We must all have chips on our shoulders.  The nature of racism, in any culture, is startlingly visible by denial. We who see it  build sophisticated lenses to filter it. We switch on these lenses as much as we can. Toni Morrison counters the denial and enlightens “”All paradises, all utopias are designed by who is not there, by the people who are not allowed in.”

Back in London I’m in a private club for creatives. Make of that what you will. I was recounting a story about  racism because these things, these events,  have an effect on my life in spite of me.    My friend, a white English person, said   “You’ve got a chip on your shoulder”. Then it must be so. It figures that the raped woman who recounts stories of sexism with a new understanding of the male has the same chip.  And the abused child who tracks  stories of abusers with an understanding of adults has the same chip. And the  child brought up in care with a new understanding of beaurocracy has the same chip.  We must all have chips on our shoulders.  The nature of racism, in any culture, is startlingly visible by denial. We   build sophisticated lenses to filter it and we switch them on as much as we can. I should end on Toni Morrison    “”All paradises, all utopias are designed by who is not there, by the people who are not allowed in.” Toni Morrison. - See more at: http://blog.lemnsissay.com/2014/06/22/chip-shoulder/?preview=true&preview_id=5968&preview_nonce=69d21bb38f&post_format=standard#sthash.C7FvQmjT.dpuf

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