The Back of the Bus is Closer to Home

Since the summer’s riots/looting there has been a steady increase in tension within our society. With the ever engaging sub-plot of the financial crisis, this tension has grown in glibness and has given everything an opaque feel as if we are all actors in an early 20s silent film. Yet despite the generally grey nature of the scenes we are all involved in on a day to day basis (i.e. endless application forms with no end), some things have taken on a new sheen and glory in the throwback 20s set. More accurately, these objects are quite painful to look at. Everyone has averted their eyes, thrown on some shades and smothered-eyes-with-hands in an attempt to pretend that these issues either do not exist or are not actually issues in the first place.

To fully appreciate cinema many ‘experts’ argue, like in other entertainment genres, that one must be ready to soak everything in, the good, the bad and the peculiar. From this kind of approach the audience might benefit from an overall richer experience, nuances adding new spins to old topics with repeated viewing. There has to be a willingness to face the ugly within our society and react with empathy and with a weighty sense of justice.

Today, as many have seen, there is an altogether disturbing video circulating the internets. The video features a woman (late 20s/early 30s), seemingly out of the blue, spilling forth a monologue of unending racial hatred. The lady, as well as being a moron, has obviously been drinking deeply from a cultural (and often naturally occurring) hatred of the “invaders of MY Britain”. This line of thought, believe it or not has had thorny roots, even in London (the apparent scene of the crime?), for years and years. These ideals have been digging gradually deeper roots quietly in the background due to the overwhelming shift in our social landscape over the last 40 to 50 years. The combination of migrants from both Europe and ex-Colonies has resulted in a train of thought that is politically charged, and consequently, incredibly delicate to halt and reverse.

The issue is, like many, a multitude of issues, each feeding off of one another to create a big headache (or chess piece) within our society. In the past half century there have been humongous strides within our nation in regards to attitudes towards race. On numerous occasions the country has banded together (seemingly) and commenced a synchronised hand wringing to nations whose treatment of immigrants is still colonial in flavour today. Today’s ‘Tram-gate’ (as it almost inevitably will be coined by some awful writer) is another example of the apparent unity against racism within England. The reaction to this particular incident, and others recently (Blatter, John Terry etc.), have been nothing short of stellar.

The problem arises not in our national front (sorry, yet again), but lies with the local reaction and the problem of racism in and of itself. To really tackle this issue we could do without scenes like that in Tram-Gate where another white woman finally steps up to have a go at the racist lady at the centre of the hoopla…except she has a go over the volume. Needless to say this was a detail some may have glossed over due to the overriding shock of the video but it is a key one. The unity we see as a nation deceives like a well wrought billboard for a summer blockbuster. The reality is that there are personal grievances behind the cameras. This disaffected, racist British voice have either been manipulated, ignored or encouraged to what will eventually amount to devastating effect.

It is necessary to point out that the above incident took place in Croydon, south London, a very multiculturally diverse slice of London. This did not prevent the event from occurring, in fact, the woman seemed to draw strength from the apparent adversity in which she was in (though she did, quite cynically clutch onto her son, using him as a shield almost). London, let us not beat around the bush, is at the forefront of multicultural Britain. If the experiment fails in London it will likely topple across the country also. Pertinently, this experiment must succeed if not only for the prevalence of common sense, but it can only succeed with a concerted effort from all sides of society. I, like many ethnic Londoners, could tell you many a tale of incidents similar to that in Tram-gate in which I have been privy to or involved in directly. Racial divisions exist even in South East London where particular areas are still deemed by most as no go areas. Things are still changing for the better but there is clearly a struggle ensuing and if we do not push one way the other side will watch with glee as the team collapses.

The different sectors of society must begin to take responsibility for their actions (as they always should but very rarely do). Firstly, we must make an effort from the ground up to elevate the importance of History; statements made in ignorance exist needlessly. Secondly, we must remove the political stigma if we are to stop breeding (extended, extended metaphor ahoy) this atmosphere of hatred. Thirdly, we need to collectively say no to people who publicly offend in such a manner. If we do not struggle with them, they will become an unavoidable, Godzilla like behemoth in our opaque financial backdrop. Only with this can we fully enjoy the grand moving picture that is our country; not yours or his or hers, but ours.

Note: I did not actually tackle the racism itself because it is such a non argument and is one which I do not wish to stoop to.