‘Am I in England?’
My 98-year-old neighbour asked the question one morning upon waking up, and I thought nothing of it. She was quite unwell, and at her age, had probably taken a step backwards in her mind, to a time when England was predominantly white.
I understood where she was coming from, she’d been woken up for her meds by a Filipino nurse, the breakfast woman was Asian, and some of the nursing assistants were black. So her confusion was justified, or so I thought.
A day later, I heard another patient telling a different member of staff that she had a problem with the colour of her skin. The staff member responded by saying it was her duty to care for all patients, and their colour was immaterial to her. I asked her later if she was alright, and she said she was, she’d heard comments like that in the past, and they didn’t bother her.
I can understand British people in their late 90s being colour sensitive, however unjustified I think it may be. I read an article in the Evening Standard last week Thursday though, and it literally left me gob-smacked. A British couple had gone on vacation to Naples, Florida, and on checking into the Ritz-Carlton hotel, had requested that they did not want to be served by a black waiter. Allegedly, 10 staff members were then informed of the family’s wishes, they had also requested not to be served by anyone with an accent.
I am not appalled by the fact that their request was actually typed into the hotel’s computer system to alert senior staff. On the contrary, I am pleased that someone saw fit to do so, and in doing so has furnished the suing staff members with irrefutable evidence that the request had been taken seriously. For some people, it’s all about the money, and I guess the Haitian-born waiter would be laughing all the way to the bank at some point in the future when the law suit is determined.
The truth of the matter is that discrimination is very much alive and well even in today’s world, and it swings all ways. Some people are just more adept at hiding it than others. Relationships have broken up on the basis that the couple came from different regions, both these regions being within the same country. Jobs are notoriously given to less qualified candidates based on the old boy network. The rich are ushered to the front pews in churches whilst the more modestly dressed are accorded less prominent seats.
Some immigrants point fingers at and mock people of a certain ethnicity, instead of observing how they pull together to take over the commerce in any area they decide upon. These mockers only come together in unity when celebrating one lavish social function or the other, their only show of solidarity is in their flamboyant matching outfits and expensive jewellery.
My point? We have all been guilty of some form of discrimination at some time or the other. We need to get back to the basics, and learn to love our neighbours as ourselves however difficult it might be.