“In the UK, we’re not less racist. It’s just more of a ‘swept-under-the-carpet’ racist.”
Lucy Flight has dedicated several videos on her channel to discussing hard-hitting topics, the latest being no exception. After the death of George Floyd in the US, creators across the platform dedicated their videos and live streams to raising awareness and money for various causes related to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Lucy’s video acts as a safe space, where racial discrimination and white privilege can be openly and honestly discussed. Joined by fellow creator, Marc Cuban, the pair do not shy away from the topic. Racism is often seen as a touchy subject, but both excel in keeping the conversation light, whilst emphasising that, in order for change to occur, we need to talk about these things.
Diving straight in at the deep end, Lucy asks Marc, who is of Nigerian decent but grew up in the UK, what it’s like being a Black individual living in the UK. “It’s like having to constantly look over your shoulder and always being wary that something’s going to happen,” he replies. Later in the video, he describes the funny looks you get from white people when just walking down the street. He explains the tension you feel, like they’re expecting something bad to happen.
To highlight white privilege, something white people are often oblivious to, Marc explains the personal experience of having to buy a certain car over another for fear of giving off the impression of being a drug dealer. “This is something a white person would never have to think about,” he says.
Another aspect of white privilege is not living in fear of the police. The murder of George Floyd sparked worldwide protests against racially-motivated police brutality, which highlighted what a deeply engrained issue this is within the American justice system.
In contrast, racism in the UK appears to be a lot less “in your face” than in America. However, this does not mean systematic racism does not exist at all – it’s just more institutionalised and often less overt. This provides people with the false narrative that racism no longer exists in the UK, or that it’s not as bad as in the United States, as Lucy explains.
“I face institutional racism everyday,” Marc states. “I used to work for a company that hired a small percentage of ethnic minorities just to make up the diversity and show they aren’t a racist company.”
Marc relays several stories throughout the video of times he’s experienced racism, whether that be growing up as a child or in his adult life. “Every Black parent in this country has been through hell,” he states.
He goes on to tell the harrowing story of when he was in primary school and the school nurse called social services, thinking his parents were burning him with cigarettes. “I just had bad skin. They took me away from my mum for about a week.” Probably the most uncomfortable part of the anecdote came when he said the social worker dealing with the case said, “This is not something we tolerate in England.”
Lucy highlights that, most of the time, it comes down to ignorance and a lack of education. Not everyone takes the time to listen or to educate themselves because they simply don’t care. It doesn’t involve their day-to-day life, so it isn’t on their agenda. The issues that affect people of colour on a daily basis are not experienced by white people, so are often overlooked or not even acknowledged in the first place due to lack of education on racism.
Marc goes on to emphasise how false stereotypes, such as all Black people are thieves, robbers, lazy or scum, create a sense of fear. White people feel automatically vulnerable because of the stereotypes often associated with violence and aggression. Coupled with ignorance, these stereotypes are perpetuated and the continuation of racial discrimination is upheld.
“It’s about challenging our own way of thinking,” Lucy says, which is why encouraging open discussion about racism is so important. It encourages learning and growth, so that one day we won’t need to protest because of the innocent lives lost at the hands of racially-motivated violence.