When I decided to write this article, I thought I would have nothing to say. Unlike my mum, I’ve rarely, if ever, had anyone be obviously racist to me. I have never been chased down a street or been subject to racially motivated violence, and I initially thought that this meant racism had bypassed me completely. However, that is not the case. The reality is that racism is actually an inherent part of my daily life, to the point that I don’t even realise it. If you’ve never experienced racism, it can be hard to fully appreciate how it may affect people, especially as it will affect people differently, but I’m hoping that this will, at least, make my reality clearer.

Looking back over the past 60 years, it could appear that racism is a lot less common than it used to be, however, I would argue that it is just as prevalent. These days blatant racism is generally frowned upon, but ‘banter’ and microaggressions, seemingly, aren’t. When you search the definition of racism, you’ll find that it’s to do with prejudice and discrimination stemming from the belief that your race is superior. You may not believe that touching my hair without asking is racist. You may not think that shortening my, already short, name into something more manageable, or persistently confusing me with the only other black person in the room is racist, but I’m here to tell you that it is. Even though you may not consciously think that you’re superior, the lack of thought into how your actions may affect people signifies a lack of respect, and that you believe I’m lesser than you.

“I’m British but that’s not the response you want when you ask where I’m from.”

When I say ‘you’, I’m not just addressing individuals. Racism is a societal issue that is present in so many institutions. As a black person, I am 4 times more likely to end up in prison than my white counterparts and I am 4 times more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act. BAME people account for over 50% of all stop and searches despite accounting for less than 15% of the population. Though, statistically, I am more likely to access higher education than my white British peers, I’m still far more likely to be unemployed. Whether it’s due to racial bias, pack mentality or anything else, our institutions seem like they’re built to keep me ‘in my place’.

The media is a massive indicator of this - we can’t forget that the media only shows us what we, as a society, want to see. The treatment of the royals in the media is a clear example. The Sun praised Kate Middleton and Prince William for their openness, yet Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were called ‘fragile’ for doing the same and told to check their privilege. Of course, they are extremely privileged, but the treatment of this interracial couple by the media suggests that they are still viewed as inferior.

Of course, I couldn’t talk about racism with mentioning Donald Trump or Boris Johnson. Naga Munchetty is right; Donald Trump is racist. While I don’t think wanting to limit immigration is necessarily racist – though I don’t agree with it - telling someone to ‘go back’ to the ‘crime-infested places’ that they come from definitely is. Donald Trump is a racist. Boris Johnson is also racist, but my opinion isn’t based on the problematic things he has said, but on his response when he’s questioned about them. Refusing to apologise for his comments only shows that he stands by them and, to clarify, apologising for any ‘hurt’ caused is not an apology as it places the blame on the people affected by his comments.

“My achievements are never just for me, they are a way of proving to society that the colour of my skin does not mean I’m inferior.”

‘I’m not racist but…’ is a phrase that is almost definitely going to be followed by something racist. I have no issue with people asking questions, but you need to be able to accept that the question you’re asking could be problematic. As someone from an ethnic minority, I understand that you won’t understand everything, but so long as there is an open, non-combative dialogue, I won’t be offended. Another thing you probably shouldn’t say is that you ‘don’t see colour’ as that’s a privilege that I can’t afford. The colour of my skin affects my day to day life, and it means I am constantly aware of it. I apparently ‘sound white’ but also get followed around in shops. I’ve been described as an ‘Oreo’ as I’m ‘white on the inside’ but once I exhibit any anger or frustration, I’m just an ’angry black woman/person’. I’m British but that’s not the response you want when you ask where I’m from.


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As a black Cambridge student, I get worried when I visit other colleges and, sometimes, even my own. Getting stopped from entering my own college is humiliating, especially when it’s apparent that it wouldn’t have happened if my skin was a different colour. Imposter syndrome is amplified as I worry that I’m not smart enough to be here and that I was only chosen to fill a quota or to be the token BAME person in pictures for the university prospectus. I put increasing amounts of pressure on myself to prove to everyone, and myself, that I deserve to be here. My achievements are never just for me, they are a way of proving to society that the colour of my skin does not mean I’m inferior.

We need to talk about racism in a collaborative way. Accusing someone of racism without explanation creates a hostile environment. Accusing someone of using ‘the race card’ shows you’re happy with your ignorance. Talking about racism will often be met with resistance, but I hope, to some extent, it will help us towards a future where I won’t have to prove that we’re equal.