Getting a bit political

29 Apr

A few months ago, for the first time ever, I wrote an email to local Labour MP, Alex Cunningham. After working for a short time in a Social Club* I was getting a little frustrated by the level of racism I was hearing. We have a fairly noticeable Asian community in Stockton. I’ve noticed a few African people too, but it’s only because there is few of them that it even registers on my radar. I basically just asked this Mr Cunningham what he was doing to better integrate ethnic minorities in Stockton. He told me about a Culture Centre in Stockton and suggested I popped down. To be honest, the very idea of Stockton having a Culture Centre at all was a surprise to me.

Chilling like a bad ass by Norton duck pond.

Alex Cunningham chilling like a wrong’un by Norton duck pond.

Racism, for the most part, is accepted as being reasonable in Stockton. At least, that’s what I’ve found. I don’t imagine for a second that it’s unique to Stockton, most Northern towns will be similar. Words like ‘Paki’ and ‘Chink’ don’t raise many eyebrows. The phrase “…they come ‘ere and steal our jobs…” gets ignorantly banded around like a Caveman would a wooden club, whilst other mindless people stand by and nod along in agreement. Not everyone thinks this way of course. However, I’ve increasingly noticed hostility towards immigrants since I’ve been away. Maybe after living in Korea and spending most of my free time with open-minded people it has become more noticeable to me. It’s always irritated me but I’ve started to think it’s not enough to just disagree with it; I should do something, hence the email.

I don’t want to be too hard on Stockton. It’s not all bad, as this website shows.

As for the word ‘Paki’ or ‘Chink’, or any other term of that nature, I just feel as though I ought to get something off my chest. People argue in an attempt to justify these terms for Pakistani and Chinese people by saying that “Oh, well, it’s just a shortened term like ‘Brits’”. If it was the same, then why does nobody has ever shout ‘Brit’ at me in the street? If it was the same, then why isn’t “Brit bashing!” ever been a phrase used to intimidate British people? Because it’s not the same, that’s why! The word ‘Paki’ has a huge amount of very negative, hurtful connotations. Therefore, I can totally understand why it would be offensive. It’s nothing like saying ‘Brit’. That isn’t a substantial justification.


And the answers would be…yes, yes, yes and yes.

Anyway, I did pop down. I sat in the café, chatted to the Director and left my number with her, told her I’d done some TEFL teaching before, and if I could help – give me a call. She called me and I’ve been volunteering two afternoons a week since then. I teach adults English. The people who attend the class are a mixture of refugees and immigrants living in the area. There are Iranians, Congolese, Polish and other ethnicities. There’s even a lady from South Korea. I was actually very excited about that, what is more – she lived in the same province of Korea as me! She asked me if I knew any Korean so I proceeded to tell her all the Korean words I know. These consist of ‘Hello’, ‘Thank you’, ‘Stop that’, ‘One beer, please’ and some basic directions I learnt to help me describe where I lived to Taxi Drivers. Pretty poor really considering I’d lived there a year, but she politely gave the impression she was impressed.

It’s the second term of English lessons now and some of the students are getting quite good so I’ve moved on to teaching some English grammar. I’m really enjoying it and I hope it means that they are able to integrate better into British society, that’s the aim.

I also think as British people we could make more effort to be more accepting and friendly towards foreigners.  We ought to speak out against racism when we hear it too. Nobody moves thousands of miles from their home country and family without good reason. I took a better opportunity in South Korea so why shouldn’t anyone else? We shouldn’t make assumptions. Let’s exercise tolerance!

I found this article with a link to some anti-racist songs by popular artists.
Click the picture below to be taken to it.

Also, this is an interesting organisation. If you’re thinking of voting UKIP you might want to give some of their a quick read first. Click the picture below to be taken to their site. < This is a good documentary related to learning English as an immigrant. The couple from Redcar, which is not far from where I am, are hilarious! It’s worth watching just for that.

 The European elections are coming up soon. I’m thinking of voting Labour, but I might be persuaded otherwise with a convincing argument. 

*A Social Club, sometimes referred to as a Working Man’s Club, is basically a pub. However, you must be a member to go in and the alcohol is usually cheaper than that in an ordinary pub. Some Social Clubs to this day don’t allow women to have membership.


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