So I recently experienced my first bit of casual racism as a young adult. Due to my age I have never had to experience a great deal of direct racism which I am quite lucky to be able to say. The odd bit here and there of course, but nothing that really got to me a great deal, just stupid stuff really.
I was at the doctors, sitting in the upstairs waiting room which was empty apart from me, the surgery advert TV wasn’t on which meant it was also silent. I was about 10 minutes early for my appointment so I was just sitting there scrolling through my phone when two older women came in and joined me in the waiting room. They sat on two chairs across the room to the right of me so I could see them in my peripheral. They began a quiet conversation and I zoned back out as they settled into the room. Suddenly I heard something that caught my attention, the older woman (around 60) said something along the lines of “there’s a lot of Darkies at this surgery now”. I was so shocked, I couldn’t be sure if I’d heard right, then the younger woman (around 40) said “hmm yeah, seems like they’re taking over”. I sat there silently as I was so taken aback and I could feel them looking at me. It was just us up there so they knew I could hear them and they just didn’t care, they continued their conversation quite openly:
- Older Woman: “It’s alright though, I don’t really have to see them as much anymore”.
- Younger Woman: “Yes, that Doctor Patel* is a darkie but he’s okay, I saw him for my last appointment”
At this point I was deciding whether or not to say anything, if I say something then maybe I’ll give them the satisfaction of feeling that they were right to feel the way they do towards ‘darkies’, but if I don’t then they get away with it. I looked up and stared at them so they knew I had heard what they’d said. They stared back. The doctor called my name.
I was so shaken that when I told the doctor about it my voice wobbled. Not because I was sad or scared but because I was so angry. So many people think that racism isn’t a thing that happens anymore but it does, every day, in so many different ways. What shocked me the most was that they were so open about it, they knew I was there and yet they didn’t care. As someone who is mixed race people seem to think that racism doesn’t effect me too. In fact a friend of my mum’s was surprised because she thought it only happened to fully black people/people of colour.
I felt like it was important to share this so that more people were aware of the types of things that happen. It’s not always KKK, police brutality and hate crimes. Sometimes it’s more subtle but it still makes you feel uncomfortable when it happens to you.
*The doctor mentioned’s name wasn’t actually Dr Patel but it was an Indian name and there’s another doctor at my surgery called Dr Patel but I couldn’t remember the actual name so I had to improvise!