A Tale of Four Cities


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness…

This week’s post is not a deep dive into a Dickensian classic but the story that has inspired it feels like a work of fiction. A talented 18 year old races from qualifiers to US Open champion without dropping a set just months after a heart breaking withdrawal from the 4th round at Wimbledon. It is a script that I am sure will at some point be turned into a Netflix movie, but if it wasn’t based on truth, we’d say the whole premise was bordering on ludicrous.

Emma Raducanu, US Open Champion (Image: The London Economic)

However, this isn’t just a story about steely determination, years of dedication, focus, raw talent and self belief. It is also a tale of identity and, ever since that winning ace flashed past Leylah Fernandez on Saturday night, the narrative has been split between a fairy tale victory and British multiculturalism. The catalyst to the debate was probably Emma Raducanu’s meteoric rise to stardom being greeted with adulation and superlatives from ‘unexpected’ quarters. Chief among them all was Nigel “I wouldn’t want to live next door to a Romanian” Farage sending his congratulations to the newly crowned Queen of the US hard court. Many people have leapt onto the offensive to remind the former UKIP leader of his disparaging historical remarks about Romanian migrants and the hypocrisy at his change of heart given that Raducanu has a Romanian father, a Chinese mother, was born in Canada and moved to Bromley at the age of two.

Raducanu’s fluent thank you message in Mandarin

Unsurprisingly, to some she is multilingual and in a brilliant PR move she thanked her Chinese supporters in fluent Mandarin. I am a massive fan of David Baddiel but his tweet in relation to this message surprised me somewhat. While it is certainly not the norm to speak more than language in the UK and as a nation we are lagging behind the rest of world (I am sad to report I’m a negative stat in this regard). We still have four out of ten people in the UK (38%) who can speak more than one language. The challenge is we don’t really celebrate that quality in ‘ordinary people’, some times it can even be viewed as a negative and treated with hostility. So when we get incredibly giddy about it in a high profile individual, especially when it is a language clearly shared with them from birth by a parent, it leaves me a little bemused.

Like many I was up late on Saturday, chewing furiously on my finger nails, as she sealed her victory. In my mind at that point was that fact that in January she was innocently tweeting about whether she would sit her A levels and the next making an unexpected run into week 2 at Wimbledon. Thoughts about her heritage hasdn’t really crossed my mind, so I’ll admit to being a bit caught out by the spark of debate and discussion that started almost instantaneously. Good Morning Britain presenter Adil Ray caused a stir celebrating her heritage as a symbol of modern Britain but also highlighting the issue that for many you are only really adopted as British when you are successful. Like Ray I love the fact that her Twitter bio simply says London, Toronto, Shenyang, Bucharest and agree with the questions that he raises in this article.

As the dust settles, I agree that this is an important discussion for us to have as a nation and the best I have read on the topic is this one by Alexandra Topping in The Guardian on the topic of multiculturalism in the UK. I hope that one day the success of a hugely talented teenage tennis player isn’t over shadowed by a debate on immigration. I couldn’t agree more with Wanda Wyporska’s summation who “as a half-Bajan, quarter-Polish, quarter-English” British woman reflected that while she delighted in celebrating Raducanu’s success and talent, she was wary of holding her up as an example of successful immigrant integration.’

The more that people get used to the idea that Britishness is a very varied thing has to be positive, but my concern is that valuing immigrants and refugees in the UK is sort of predicated on being successful and giving back a contribution rather than just being human. That’s not good for us either.”

Walking the walk

It is far easier to declare that you stand in solidarity with a cause or an issue than it is to actually take action, stand up and be counted. That was certainly felt at TalkSPORT HQ this week when a caller made a racist remark and neither of the presenters properly called it out or challenged it. The moment illustrated for me why it is critically important that if you intend to be an ally that you invest the time, effort and energy into self development so you are ready when the moment you need to challenge discriminatory behaviour arrives. What troubles me about the incident is that surely one of the key areas of development for the presenters has to be how to recognise a discriminatory comment and how to respond. It is startling that a radio station, that regularly invites callers to dial in, hadn’t done their homework.

For those of you that missed it, a caller discussing the potential transfer of Harry Kane from Tottenham, made an anti-semitic slur against the chairman Daniel Levy. The video below clearly indicates that the presenters were stunned by the comment but rather than call it out they moved the conversation on. I am certain that if the caller had made a racist remark about a Black or Brown footballer, manager or owner they would have responded in the moment. TalkSPORT have since apologised to Tottenham and Daniel Levy and I genuinely hope this will lead to in depth training of the on air team.

What is really sad is that it doesn’t take too much to work to prepare yourself for these kinds of situations. On radio especially, you have the ability to challenge the caller and then end the call if they do not retract / apologise for the remark. I have mentioned in previous blogs preparing a stock response you can have ready for when you are in this kind of situation. It would have been very simple for either Perry Groves or Jordan Jarrett Bryan to end the call and say “That type of racist comment is unacceptable on our show and I’d like to apologise to any listeners who have been offended by that”.

TalkSPORT have highlighted that they were able to cut the slur from radio broadcast but it made it through on the live stream online. Whilst this is a potentially positive step to prevent hateful comments from broadcast I sincerely hope it doesn’t mean that staff development gets ignored. The cynic in me wonders whether the edit was driven more by the comment or the lack of action by the presenters? If we are really going to make progress on anti-racism censorship is not enough. In fact, I think more positive impact would have been made by the presenters calling it out in the moment than by edits and apologies. #ImNotTired

Tottenham Chairman Daniel Levy

In losing, did we actually win?

I know this feels like a strange title but please bear with me. In the aftermath of the post European Championship final racism we have seen the power of active allyship. People have been reporting individuals to aid police investigations, there has been widespread condemnation for the bigoted views that have been shared, a petition to permanently ban racists from football matches has reached over 1 million signatures and a defaced mural of Marcus Rashford in Withington has not only been repaired but covered in messages of support.

The messages of support are to be preserved on the Marcus Rashford mural (Source: PA Media)

Yesterday I was honoured to participate in a d&i leaders conversation about conscious inclusion with Chris MacRae and Anu Mandapati. In preparing for the session my mind was immediately drawn to how the nation has rallied in condemning the actions of the few who hurled abuse at Rashford, Sancho and Saka. This week’s blog is a blend of my notes from that session and reflections on what may be a watershed moment in the anti-racism movement in the UK.

  1. Words matter. Think about Inclusion (creating an environment that enables everyone to have access to resources and support) ahead of Diversity (the mix of people involved). Prioritise Equity (treating people differently to achieve an equality of outcome) rather than Equality (treating everyone the same). Using the England Team as an example we have a diverse team 8 of the 11 who started the final have a parent or grandparent who migrated to the UK but we have seen that they do not play in an inclusive environment.
  2. Actions matter. You have a choice when presented with discriminatory behaviour. Will you be a colluder joining in the actions or practice? Will you be a bystander standing by quietly while the abuse happens right in front of your eyes? Or will you be a challenger? Will you stand up for others? If you want to be a challenger but lack the confidence often the biggest hurdle is a fear of sparking confrontation. It is useful to have something pre prepared, maybe that you even practice in the mirror, so when you hear something that doesn’t sound right you can turn to that phrase to initiate a challenge. Your comment could be anything from “Sorry, but that’s out of order” to “What exactly do you mean by that?”. Remember it is not enough to think or believe I’m not racist, or homophobic, or ableist, or sexist. For starters it’s a flawed perception but principally if you are really serious about this you have to be actively anti.
  3. Invisible difference matters. Too often we focus on visible differences. The illustration below highlights how so much of our identity is invisible. Rashford is a case in point because while he is Black his major contribution over the past 12 months has been his exceptional lobbying on child poverty. He speaks eloquently and passionately from his own lived experience and has captured the attention, respect and support of a nation. However, if he had not been brave and open enough to share we would not know this about his background. It is important reminder that identity is broad, complex and often hidden.

4. Safe spaces matter. Sharing your lived experience, calling out discrimination and maintaining your dignity in the face of hostility are all significant drains on resilience. This level of emotional labour cannot be underestimated. It is therefore critical to create safe environments that enable under represented colleagues to share their experiences and speak truth to power. The optimum approach is to get these externally facilitated.

This feels like a moment. I was devastated when we lost the final. I was disgusted (but not surprised) by the fallout. But I have been energised by the public response, the support, the allyship and the conversations we are now starting to have. Tyrone Mings calling out the Home Secretary is my standout moment. Will this moment sprout wings and fly us to a new level? I don’t know but I am hopeful.

What’s coming home?

Before I get started this week I want to state that I am as deliriously excited as other England fans. My first memory of a major tournament was Mexico 86 – Gary Lineker scoring that hat trick against Poland with his bandaged hand and Diego Maradona dumping us out of the World Cup with his ‘hand of god’. Since then I’ve had the pain of Italia 90, heartache of Euro 96 and the despair of penalty shootouts (especially ’98 and ’04), Ronaldinho from the half way line and that Lampard ‘ghost goal’ in 2010. I am ecstactic the team have surpassed my wildest dreams and even if we don’t get over the line on Sunday I am grateful to them for making the ride go right the way to the end of the line. But what I value most about this team is their united stance against discrimination from taking the knee before matches to wearing a rainbow armband or laces during them.

Raheem Sterling & Kalvin Phillips take the knee before a pre tournament friendly at the Riverside Stadium. Photo: Sky

However, before a ball was kicked in anger at this tournament, there was anger, a lot of it and it was all aimed at our England team for their stance on racism. Our own supporters, many of whom I guess were probably bellowing out Three Lions on Wednesday night, were booing our team for their stance (see a mind boggling conversation with James O’Brien below). There was criticism from MPs with Tory Lee Anderson going as far as saying he would boycott the matches because players were taking the knee, he must be regretting that statement now. As the tournament has progressed some England fans have continued to boo the knee as well as the opposition’s national anthem. But all of this against an increasingly euphoric backdrop of fever pitch excitement, celebration and choruses of ‘it’s coming home’.

Which leads me to my question. What is coming home? Is it a trophy or could it be much more than that? Football is also known as the beautiful game and one of the most precious things about it is that it is a universal language that succeeded where esperanto failed. Sir Mo Farah recalls a story about when he came to Britain at the age of 8 (for the record he did not need to claim asylum as his father was a UK born citizen) that he could not speak much English but he integrated into primary school and made friends through playing football. In contrast, there are quite significant pockets of our nation that have criticised the national team for their anti-racism stance. Our supporters have consistently booed other national anthems and there is yet another fine on its way to the FA for the fans boorish efforts in the Danish match (which also included focussing a laser on Kasper Schmeichel’s face before Harry Kane’s penalty). Our newspapers have harangued our Black footballers, especially Raheem Sterling, who is often the focus of their ire (and ironically the best England player in this tournament), and this discriminatory practice emboldens racists and fuels social media harassment of players.

On the eve of the Euros, manager Gareth Southgate wrote an eloquent letter to out nation and I wonder when the competition is over whether this team can continue and amplify the conversation about inclusion that they have started? In his letter, Southgate writes

“Our players are role models. And, beyond the confines of the pitch, we must recognise the impact they can have on society. We must give them the confidence to stand up for their teammates and the things that matter to them as people. I have never believed that we should just stick to football.

This role modelling extends beyond matters of racism. In addition to taking the knee, we saw Harry Kane don a rainbow captain’s armband in the match against Germany in recognition of Pride month and Jordan Henderson score his first England goal in the quarter final against Ukraine whilst wearing rainbow laces. This is not just a football story but one about inclusion, solidarity and allyship. It disturbs me to read articles criticising the brave and positive steps taken by this team and their exemplary manager. The claim by Financial Times, commentator Gideon Rachman that the letter was ‘suspiciously well written’ smacks of an elitist view that being a successful footballer and being able to string together a coherent piece of prose are incompatible skill sets. The team has not been hijacked, they are a group of young men who believe as a nation we can be better, as a society we can be more inclusive and that treating people with fairness, decency and respect should be fundamental pillars of our culture.

As a fan I will be willing them on with every fibre of my being, but in my eyes they are already winners. I hope their true victory lies in helping us to heal as a nation and encouraging more people to think, act and behave differently. The Italian national anthem is an absolute belter, in my mind probably the best of all anthems. Here’s hoping it is fully respected by those fans lucky enough to be in the stadium and that come the weekend we will all witness a new bit of football history and the start of a new social era. #ImNotTired


Well the world of sport keeps on giving in terms of inclusion story lines. This week I had the option of the England Men’s national football team, ongoing booing of players taking the knee, Gareth Southgate’s open letter to the Nation and James O’Brien’s enthralling yet bizarre conversation with an England fan who fessed up to booing the national team at the Riverside Stadium before their match against Romania.

However, that blockbuster plot has been gazumped by the tale of Ollie Robinson, a bold response by the ECB, a series of historic tweets being revealed and the Secretary of State jumping in to say the reaction from the cricket governing body was “over the top”. I am on tenterhooks as to what happens next as the choice of suspending Robinson before an investigation was a relatively straightforward one despite impressive debut figures of 7-101 with the ball and 42 with the bat (for non cricket fans that is a great performance). With the likes of James Anderson (the world record holder for most Test wickets by a seam bowler), Jos Buttler and Eoin Morgan (Vice Captain and Captain of the limited overs team) being brought into the frame the situation has changed.


The second test against New Zealand is now underway and time will tell how the ECB, captain Joe Root and Head Coach Chris Silverwood will deal with the revelations. Robinson has taken a short break from cricket but personally the most critical part of the story came in the shape of political comment on the situation. I do not believe any Government should be attempting to intervene on matters like this, let alone to suggest the ECB have over reacted, Let’s be clear it is to be commended that in the middle of this the ECB centred the feelings of those people who were the targets of Robinson’s tweets. His immediate contrition is a positive step but this could so easily have been dismissed and brushed under the carpet. Former England batsman Mark Ramprakash summed it up best when he reflected “I’ve heard people express sort of sympathy with Ollie Robinson, and say ‘hasn’t he shown a lot of character?’, but I haven’t heard enough about the victims or the people that these tweets are aimed at”.

However, my main point this week is the potential negative power of and perils of social media. Ramprakash’s point is important because comments like this can cause real harm. It has made me wonder if in my youth I have posted a comment or shared something that I would now regret. Whether I have caused harm and upset to others through my thoughtless actions. My lesson from the Robinson case is a personal one. To be mindful of what I say, write and share. Not because of the potential for it to come back to haunt me but because of the negative harm it can cause others. Being inclusive and making other people feel welcome requires conscious mindful practice. I hope this case serves as a wake up call to all of us. Comments like this are not banter they are one aspect of a wider damaging and pervasive culture. An environment built on micro aggressions – the impact of which is articulately explained by Melinda Epler in the video below.

Is there a dark side to firsts?

Sporting firsts are often held up and heralded as major breakthroughs. Last weekend we had a triple helping of that at both the beginning and end of The Masters and sandwiched in the middle of that the Grand National. Lee Elder who was the first Black golfer to compete in The Masters was added to the line up of honorary starters for a tournament steeped in tradition but with a history riddled with inequality. It felt fitting though that the tournament was won by Hideki Matsuyama the first Japanese golfer to triumph on Augusta’s lightning fast greens and undulating fairways. The respectful act of his caddie Shota Hayafuji replacing the flagstick on the 18th, removing his cap and bowing to the course has got people talking all over the world.

In between Hideki’s stunning performance and Lee’s understated appearance came Rachael Blackmore’s historic triumph as the first female jockey to win the Grand National on Minella Times. We also had the Boat Races with Cambridge Men and Women both victorious. But I think it is important in celebrating these moments to also acknowledge how long it has taken for progress to happen. Lee Elder was the first Black player to compete at The Masters in 1975 even though the tournament began in 1934. It wasn’t until 1977 that women were allowed to compete in horse racing and it has taken over 40 years to produce our first female champion of the jump season’s biggest race. The Oxford & Cambridge Boat Race started in 1829 (Oxford won that year in case you were wondering) It was almost 100 years before the Women’s race was introduced in 1927 and not till 1935 it became a side by side race (Oxford won the first Women’s side by side race as well). It wasn’t until 2015 that the Women’s race was moved to the Thames to take place on the same day as the Men’s race and a further three years for both crews to get equal billing.

Rachael Blackmore celebrates winning with Minella Times CREDIT: PA

The purpose of today’s post is not to undermine or pick holes in these achievements. I am a big fan when we break new ground in terms of equality. My question this week is whilst we are celebrating these achievements are we sufficiently impatient in wanting more progress? Are we prepared to not be satisfied with a single triumph and continue to ask more challenging questions? When will we have a Women’s Masters tournament at Augusta? They welcomed their first two female members in 2012 but since then only four more women have been able to join. The coverage of the Boat Races is improving but it still feels more weighted toward the Men’s event. There is also clearly more work to be done in levelling the ‘riding field’ in horse racing, a topic expertly handled on this link exploring comparable performance in flat racing. This article builds on the work of Vanessa Cashmore, a Liverpool University MBA student, who published a study into the performance of female jockeys in comparison with their male counterparts from 2003 – 2016.

So let’s celebrate milestones and breakthroughs. Let’s fling kudos and admiration at those people that beat the odds to achieve career ambitions. But at the same time let’s ask questions about the progress that we are making in terms of equality of opportunity and participation.

Queen’s Gambit declined

I loved chess when I was younger, drifted away from it until the Netflix series The Queen’s Gambit drew me back in. The Queen’s Gambit is an opening where white tries to entice black to accept what appears to be a free pawn. The purpose of the sacrifice is to open up the centre for white to control. As with all chess openings there are a myriad of variations one of which is known as the Queens Gambit declined where black opts to ignore the ‘pawn’ and carry on with their plans and development of pieces…

This week’s blog was going to be a low key affair. I am taking two weeks much needed annual leave and had partially crafted a post ready to upload. Then the Sewell Report dropped midweek, and my jaw hit the floor. It has led me to focus on that but I must confess to not really having the words or craft to pull together something cpnscise and coherent. So if you are looking for an articulate, reflective piece I’d highly recommend this wonderful article by Kalwant Bhopal instead. I can’t match her skill and the past 24 hours have left me numb, filled with despair and despondency. It’s not really what I had planned for my fortnight break but here we are and I needed to say something. In thinking about what I wanted to write I took a break played a game of chess, and it was there that my thoughts turned to the Queen’s Gambit declined…

I feel that the Sewell report is designed to lock me in a box. I feel that my experiences, and those of the millions of Black and Brown British citizens have been gaslit by our own Government. However, according to the report, to say so means that I am living in a bygone age and am suffering from ‘victimhood’. It is a shallow attempt to simultaneously discredit the notion of systemic racism and damn anyone who disagrees.

My thoughts are that fixating on the report is the equivalent of accepting the Queens’ Gambit. It is a pawn I do not want and a conversation I will not have. Rather than attempting to continue the debate I am instead resolved to continue working to address inequality wherever I find it and simply ignore the document. So what therefore is the purpose and point of today’s blog post?

This is really for the ally readers. I have two simple questions for you. Do you agree with the conclusions of the Sewell Report? If not, what action have you taken to reflect that through your circles and spheres of influence? Have you reached out to any Black or Brown colleagues to see how they are feeling and offer your support? The voices I have heard speaking out have been predominantly Black or Brown. From David Lammy to Pete Olusoga to Shereen Daniels and countless others… It would be nice to see a ‘lighter palette’ of those vocalising disagreement and concern.

I wrote in January about my fear that the Government’s strategy was one of division – to pit the black, brown and white working class against each other. I’ll leave you with this eloquent and accurate summation from Rehana Azam General Secretary of the GMB Union that shares that concern. “Only this Government could produce a report on race in the 21st century that actually gaslights Black, Asian, Minority and Ethnic people and communities. This feels like a deeply cynical report that not only ignores black and ethnic minority worker’s worries and concerns. But is part of an election strategy to divide working class people and voters. It’s completely irresponsible and immoral”.

We cannot afford to be tired!!!


Stand up, be counted…

Wilfrid Zaha has had enough. I don’t blame him. He has suffered years of constant abuse both online and from the terraces. Last weekend before Crystal Palace’s match against West Brom he became the the first Premier League player not to take the knee. His hope is that his actions will highlight that more needs to be done to fight racism, stating that he “will continue to stand tall”.

Wilfrid Zaha takes a stand before the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and West Ham

When football resumed last summer and players, officials and backroom teams started taking a knee before kick off I wondered where the actions and gestures would lead. Would things start to change or was this going to end up the sporting equivalent of Sir Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner taking the knee in an empty parliamentary meeting room. Empty is an important word here, Zaha’s stance is asking a fair and reasonable question, are the promises leading to action or are they as empty the stadia that matches are currently taking place in?

However, what I really want to write about today is the reaction. The debate in many areas is inexplicably focussing on whether Zaha is right to stand. No I’m sorry that is so misplaced and an indicator of the bigger issue. The debate should be centred on the fact that we have a Black footballer that feels so let down by the lack of progress, hollow gestures and absence of meaningful change or action. The key question should be “we are failing, we must do more, how do we stand up and make a difference”.

A colleague of mine shared a great talk by Ibram X Kendi this week on the difference between being “not racist” and antiracist. We are both big fans of his perspective “that racist is NOT an identity, rather it’s a description of your behaviour in the moment” meaning you can exhibit racist behaviour one minute and be antiracist the next. It has a chunky run time (50mins) but I’d encourage you to carve out the time to have a listen, especially useful for any allies that are reading.

I’d also encourage you to sign up to and join a free live event being hosted by Green Park next week. The event has a great panel of speakers holding an important conversation ‘Let’s not go back to normal’. The line up is shared below and I hope you will be able to listen in to what promises to be an insightful session. This is my 20th post, #ImStillNotTired about campaigning for equity but, like Zaha, I am growing tired of endless discussion, empty promises and lack of change. It’s time for all of us to stand up and be counted…

Race Equality Week

Here’s a chilling statistic for you. It is normal for 75% of ethnic minorities to experience racism in the workplace. Just let that sink in for a minute. For three quarters of our Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic population discrimination at work is a normal experience. This is one of the outputs of research conducted by Green Park and The Collaboratory and has led to their creation of the UK’s first racial Equality Week due to get started on Monday 1st February.

It comes at a time of hope following the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the US. For those of you who missed it please take six minutes with a cuppa to listen to Amanda Gorman’s poem from last week’s ceremony.

The Hill I Climb, Amanda Gorman (transcript available here)

Race Equality Week has a simple message – let’s not go back to normal. This sentiment dovetails beautifully with the thrust of the ‘Hill I Climb’ poem, which also includes the line “we seek harm to none and harmony for all”. Next week across the country senior leaders will meet with staff to build their understanding of the challenges, barriers and issues in a series of ‘safe space’ conversations. These will culminate in a collection of Big Promises made between employers and employees about the changes they will make. I will be watching keenly to see whether these words turn into actions and if your employer is taking part I encourage you to do so as well.

For those of you whose employer may have missed the boat worry not. The intention is for this to become an annual cycle of conversations and commitment so ask your organisation ‘why are we not taking part in this’. It is an especially powerful challenge if it is raised by allies rather than People of Colour.

As someone who has experienced racism from childhood, I can assure you that the many statistics you have read and comments you have heard are not only very likely to be true they are most probably understated. The goal of most campaigners on this agenda is not to tip the balance of the scales but merely to achieve equilibrium.

So if this short post has encouraged you to find out what more you can personally do I suggest a visit to the Race Equality Matters website. I’ll leave you with Amanda’s words:

“But one thing is certain: If we merge mercy with might, and might with right, then love becomes our legacy and change, our children’s birthright…
…In every known nook of our nation, in every corner called our country, our people, diverse and beautiful, will emerge, battered and beautiful. When day comes, we step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid. The new dawn blooms as we free it.
For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it.”

Where do you belong?

Welcome to the first guest blog on the site that has been kindly shared by Nikki Squelch (@squelchisms), thank you. As always please feel welcome to join the discussion using the comments box below.

I am a white immigrant. I know I am privileged. I have never had to escape a country because of my political or religious beliefs, my sexual orientation or even for economic reasons. But nonetheless I am an immigrant. 

At 28, I became an accidental immigrant. I have spent more time in the UK in my adult life then anywhere else, yet I often feel like my legitimacy for being here is questioned. I know that I am loved by many here, yet there are times when I feel like a visitor, or worse a trespasser.

Who doesn’t want to live on a big Island reputed for sunshine and surf? Who doesn’t want to live in the land of plenty? Why would anyone leave Australia, when so many want to live there?

Well, me.

Actually, I am torn. I miss family and friends. I don’t miss the heat or humidity. My heart sometimes aches to see folks back in Oz and to breathe in the vast horizons. To smell the sea and eucalyptus that is so uniquely ‘home’. But I come from a long line of migrants. The great grandparents travelled from Ireland, Scotland and England to the shores of the US and Australia.

I grew up believing that where I was, was the best country in the world. I had nothing to compare it to. And it is the best country for some. But it is not the best country for all people. I know what lays beneath the sun, sea and shine of the great sunburnt country. I have witnessed the ugliest forms of racism. All forms are ugly and unjust, but when informed by policy and law and acted upon by people, it is wrong and causes a pain that runs deep through the country.

As a person who loves to travel and enjoys meeting new people and has witnessed the beauty and richness that diverse cultures can bring to community life, I find racism perplexing, bewildering, confusing, on top of it all being plain wrong. It has an impact on how I feel about living in both Australia and the UK. I have the appetite to learn and try to understand more and what I can do about it.

But cultural difference and racism runs deep and is complex. That doesn’t mean we should do nothing. In fact, it is because it is uncomfortable and perplexing there is even more reason to act.

In the UK, I am often asked when am I going back to Australia. Why do I live here? Or even, how could I live here. I’ve experienced people mocking my colonial past. Correcting my pronunciation of certain words and joking about my written English. It has impacted on my sense of belonging. Feeling like an outsider.

It’s an odd space to occupy. A desire to be here, to have the life I choose. To know that I am privileged to have this choice. To know that many would choose differently. To have to explain why here and not there. To have it assumed that I must surely have a plan to go back.

It’s an odd space to occupy and it impacts on how much I feel I truly belong.

Now, I imagine what it would be like if my skin colour or my hair was different. My spine shivers and I also worry about my past behaviour and the unintended negative impact it may have had on colleagues and friends. I have experienced cultural micro-aggressions that have made me feel I don’t belong. I know that I have probably delivered micro-aggressions too. Sorry!

I know that having the desire to be anti-racist and an ally is not enough. I know that reading about it, is not enough. I got to a point where I have moved from asking ‘is it racist’ to the operating reality of asking ‘to what extent is racism at play here’.

I will take my personal experience to improve and avoid making assumptions about any culture.

My personal actions to show that #ImNotTired are:

  • To stay curious. Continue to read, learn and listen.
  • To be both humble and brave. If I witness something that seems wrong, then it probably is and I will speak up. If I am told that I got something wrong (and I will) I will say sorry and seek further understanding.

What else can I do to be a good ally?

What else can we all do to make sure that everyone feels like they belong?

If you want to read more from Nikki head over to nomadnikandson.wordpress.com