Unsuitable Girl

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'tolerated but not accepted'

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This phrase leapt out at me from a documentary last night, on American attitudes reflected in  various sitcoms and cartoons,  over the past few decades.

It seems that after 'The Cosbies'  (black middle class family... high aspirations 1980-90s) which appealed widely across all racial groups, the appearance of sitcoms like 'Friends' which had no ethnic minority characters and no references at all to any other world than a white middle class one, and the advent of cable TV  ( where black actors only portray black story lines in an all black context) has caused, or is a reflection of the sad fact that, as quoted above:

'any scene with a black guy kissing a white girl is perceived as less acceptable than say, for example a same sex relationship kiss.  Mixing races is tolerated but not accepted here..' 

My mind grasped that phrase and Abbots Langley living leapt into focus!

WE are tolerated but not accepted, even by some  people who purport to be commited Christians.  We were invited to join our efforts, working for Fairtrade publicity in our area, by a member of the local Anglican church, who was running her church Fairtrade group.  They wanted to extend the reach beyond just the church group.  She did warn us that some members did not want to extend in this way, but that she did. So we said we would be glad to join together with them.  

The steering group members, sat in our house for meetings, drank our tea, ate our biscuits and discussed the Fairtrade campaign we were helping with.  However  when we met them in the High Street, in the Post Office, they would literally look the other way or at the pavement, rather than crack a smile across their faces!

People who we welcomed as new neighbours, have resolutely 'kept themselves to themselves' even to the extent of that very recognisable ploy of looking at the pavement when we pass by.  Strange how attractive the pavement is here. It's easier to look down at it,  than to look at us and smile!

In 1973 when we moved into this house, our neighbour quietly told us that here had been petition along the street to protest against the house being sold to us! Fortunately, the owners were urgenty needing a buyer at the time.

A  few weeks after moving in, the man across the road came over, asking Pratap what colour he was going to paint the house window frames...he obviously had been lying awake at night worrying that we'd paint it shocking pink..(foreigners have no taste) This was a professional man, not a yob, and he had some nerve to come over and ask such a question.  He came smiling,  bearing his huge amaryllis plant in magnificent pink flower...because, as he said, 'I noticed your one in the window.'  After general chat around the lilies, mine having a supeior provenance since my father had developed it from seed, he then asked the question about the paint colour.  

I had foolishly thought that all this weird suspicion and alienation had disappeared after forty years, but no, this year, 2012, the very new next door neighbours are 'keeping themselves to themselves' assiduously, never looking up for a glance when loading/unloading the car, doing the hedge...etc 

Are they just being 'English' and very reserved, or is it the race thing???

Why do I care?

I don't know to be honest.  All I know is that , that phrase, the title of this post, touched a nerve which I thought had long since been root canalled out.

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  1. yildiz (yildiz.arikan@bahcesehir.edu.tr)

    If they are being "English" or racist does not matter. Just ignore them. They do not deserve your and Pratap's friendship and they do not know how much they miss. Yes, that's what we do. We learned over the years... I think that seeing all the mixed race young couples around now, happily, I felt fooled into thinking that we are accepted now, probably we are really , but that phrase seemed to exactly describe the feeling of living in this village! But it's maybe too much expectations on our part! Thanks for responding Yildiz, dear friend.

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  2. Yildiz (yildiz.arikan@bahcesehir.edu.tr)

    ? hope that your neigbours are just being British by watching the pavements. ?f not thet do not realize what great friendship and cultural richness they are missing by their attidute Just ignore them !

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  3. Magnus (Magnus_mehta@yahoo.com)

    You should go and ask your neighbours are they a) unfriendly or b) gently racist ?? ....... See how they react ....yes good idea...but how can you be gently racist? :-)

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  4. (pratapmehta@live.co.uk)

    Just to say I like your blog today!

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