My Tram Experience: engage before it’s too late

The recent internet explosion surrounding the upload of the YouTube clip “My Tram Experience” on the 27th November has sparked heated, and in places abusive, debate on the internet worldwide. Considering racism is a ‘hot button’ topic in the UK, British emphasis on political correctness, and the (stereotypical) image of the polite chap in a bowler hat, I found reading some of the comments on this video harrowing. In places, their content made for more shocking viewing than the video itself.

In the video, a woman on a London tram complains loudly about ethnic minorities in Britain, claiming that “my Britain is f*** all now”. She challenges fellow passengers, saying “you ain’t British, you’re black […] go back to where you come from”.

Unfortunately, the public expression of racist views is not an alien concept to many British people. The high public profile of the British National Party (BNP), a party which calls the presence of ethnic minorities in Britain an “immigration invasion of our country”, means that the British public have been exposed to freely expressed opinion of this nature before.

But the number of comments on the video posted by individuals echoing the views vocalised by the woman in the clip is staggering.

In June 2009, leader of the BNP Nick Griffin was elected to the European Parliament, amid shock and fury from anti-fascist protestors and other candidates. Could it be possible that an ominous age of more outspoken racism is approaching Britain? The evidence suggests that it is possible.

However, two days after the video had been posted, the woman in the video named as Emma West was charged with a racially aggravated public order offence. If the law can be taken as a representation of the views of a country, this suggests that by the standards of the British community, outspoken and abusive racism is not tolerated. 57,566 ‘dislikes’ versus 16, 579 ‘likes’ on the clip is also a reassuring indication that the majority still deem racism in Britain to be unacceptable. Although this still leaves 16, 579 people who are not afraid to openly express their intolerance of other races.

I find it comforting that the British courts will not tolerate this kind of behaviour but those of us who are horrified by these attitudes need to heed the warning that there are many people who share Emma West’s views.

When racist and provocative views are being expressed over the Internet, on public transport and even within the country’s politics, is it time to address provision of education in racial awareness more actively? If a significant minority of people hold bigoted views which are offensive to the majority, there is a danger that the debate could turn nasty, as evidenced by the fact that Emma West had to be held in custody for her own protection.

Those of us who want to see a peaceful society must work to ensure that racial tolerance is the norm from school to workplace to London tube. We need to understand how the views of people like Emma West have been formed and ensure that such attitudes are challenged at their root. If we fail to engage then the mental division in attitudes could become physical.

7 comments

  1. A good proportion of those likes are people who approve of the person videoing the whole thing, and wishing to increase its exposure. You’re not supposed to like or dislike based on the conduct of people in the video, only on the overall quality of the video itself.

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  2. (I intended to add a “probably” between “are” and “people”.)

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  3. It sounds like your dangerously close to calling for people who are opposed to the destruction of their country by mass immigration to be sent for re-programming.
    It’s a pity you didn’t get so worked up by the racist attack by four Somali women on a white girl in Leicester, who by the way walked free from court – but then I guess that doesn’t suit your self-loathing agenda

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  4. Emma West never said anything ” racist “.. she was speaking an opinion.. and seeing as Britain has recently helped over-throw dictators to take freedom and democracy to lands oversea.. how is imprisoning a woman for voicing an opinion, that many British people share, any different to what the dictators we helped overthrow would have done ??? When people get imprisoned for an opinion that is not politically correct we are living under a dictatorship.. It seems we are only free to do and say what we are told is ” right ” to do or say… that is dictatorship.

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  5. Britain has occupied other countries for centuries, having an overall negative effect in some. If Britain ever thought it had the right to do so, surely they cannot be against migrants hoping for a better future in Britain. It is one thing being against immigration, but differentiating British from other nationalities by the colour of a person’s skin is despicable. We live in ONE world, ONE Global Society, what are we if we don’t want to share it with our own brothers and sisters ? colour, nationality, religion should not matter.

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  6. As a bruising FB, I would protect the right of this woman to express her views on immigration and the state of the nation.

    Texas Forever.

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  7. How was she not racist? What do you consider “racist” Ross? Seriously some people just cross the line and defend themselves by saying it’s freedom of speech. Freedom of speech should deserve a more accurate name then: freedom of hate.

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