Morris on… Diversity


I grew up and spent my school life in a place where the vast majority of people were Caucasian. If my recollections are correct, there were two black people out of 160-ish in my school year, and not many more Asian. There were never any racist comments made, of course; it was also a place where people were generally quite proper, polite and PC.

But that was it; it was just PC. What made it worse was that our parents’ generation would have been at complete liberty to make racist comments, and I for one certainly knew it. And as for our grandparents – my Nan’s (not French Nan – one of my side-chick Nans) exclamation of ‘The whole world will be coffee coloured soon!’ upon finding out I had a Pakistani boyfriend settled that matter.

In any case, so far as I can remember, integration was never a problem, at least on the face of it all. Now I’m going to say something that may seem controversial, but it’s actually just a fact of life. At some point, probably during the eighties, and probably having something to do with the repercussions of the Jackson 5, being black became cool. Don’t argue with me, it’s just how it is. Nobody knows why, but it remains the same today. If a white man called Richard James strolled into a pub in a yellow suit, introduced himself and ordered somebody to hold his drink, bitch, odds are on he’d be carted off to the nearest mental institution before anybody could say unity. But Rick James did it, and Rick James is cool as fuck. End of.

The reason I said that is because that has a knock on effect on a Caucasian society. It’s threatening. Let’s go back to my quaint (lolz) little hometown; if it became known that a girl had slept with a black guy, she was automatically categorised as a ‘black c*ck lover’ (again, don’t any of you argue with me, you all know it’s true). I’ve had this conversation with a black friend of mine before, who comes from London – I explained to him that once the dark (no pun intended) deed is done, the girl becomes sort of ‘tainted’. He was shocked at my choice of adjective, but it’s true. There’s a sort of ‘you’re on that side now’ attitude.

The headline here is that there is most definitely still an underlying, unspoken and – thankfully – for the most part unexercised segregation alive and well today.

Now I have never, ever been racist. I think it might be because I’m half-French with dashes of Belgian, Welsh, Spanish (I don’t even think I’m English) myself, and I’ve always been immersed in French culture; either way, I’ve just been indifferent to skin colour, food preferences and all the rest of it, because… Well because frogs legs. But that doesn’t change the fact that my perspective on the issue was obliterated during my second year of Uni, when I fortuitously moved into a house that had more passports than clean pairs of pants. And by that I don’t mean we were stowing away Eastern European families in the utility room (did I mention I’m not racist? …). It was just that everyone was different. And I’d never, ever felt so at home. Iran, Italy, France, Belgium, Nigeria, Barbados, Brazil, the list went on: between seven of us, we probably could have held some sort of weekly global consortium. And that was just the people that actually held a licence agreement to a bedroom and communal areas – there were always friends of ours in the house that just added to the multitude of ethnicities.

It was also through this most wonderful group of people that I met my boyfriend, an Economics student at UoB, originally from London/Reading. And it was he that really opened my eyes to what I can only really label as the façade that forms an ominous cloud over Birmingham. It’s a well-known fact that B-town is “multicultural”. But what does that even mean? Well, it means that there are lots of people from different ethnic backgrounds that share a town of residence. What it does not mean is that those people live together harmoniously, which is what I had failed to see up until about 9 months ago.  He described feeling like a second-class citizen on a permanent basis, and the indirect racism he had been subjected to. I was very taken aback, and certainly embarrassed at my own ignorance and naiveté.

I intend to cover the topic of racism in at least one aspect of life in Birmingham some time in the very near future (Twitter homies will be thankful, as I’ll stop bombarding the TL with vox pop requisitions). But I wanted to write this as a sort of prelude, and with a focus on diversity as opposed to racism. Because diversity is a good thing. You will never, ever learn ANYTHING in life if you stay in a box. You won’t learn how to respect people, you won’t learn how quickly our subconscious judges people (which also means how quickly other peoples’ subconscious judges you), and you sure as hell won’t learn about fried plantain.

I’ll leave you with some food for thought in the words of the Iceberg, the Hov, the CEO, the Jigga man:

I got five passports, I’m never going to jail.

  • Tom Shelton

    Firstly, in our generation at least, this is definitely a perspective shared by a vast minority, rather than the majority it was shared by by the generations before. Whilst you may have grown up in a small and segregated area, the majority of our generation, myself obviously included, were born in massively ethnically diverse areas and as a result do not see skin colour as a contributing factor to any assumptions or sub conscious judgements we make of people. I prefer to judge people based on their actions and I personally find this indefinite way you speak about caucasian people to be insulting. It seems to me this article is only relevant to the individuals, like yourself, who grew up in sheltered, small rural areas and were closed off from the real, forward moving, world.

    Secondly, if something is unspoken and unaddressed it is very much intangible, so it cannot be classed as “most definitely fact” it can at best be suspected, but in believing it to be fact you prevent yourself from being able to trust anyone that you suspect to harbor these views – and in this article it seems you are assuming all white people harbor racist thoughts within them. Whilst no doubt it applys to some individuals this could not be further from the truth, its not as if there are small pockets of causcasian people meeting up fight club style after hours to discuss their hatred for other races.

    Thirdly, what about the countless incidents white people are now judged for, racism these days is a two,three,four way street, it goes both ways and i can personally think of plenty of occasions ive been judged for being in a situation as a white male, so if this is to be a fair article this should also be addressed.

    Finally, anyone that shares an in any way racist view is decidably less evolved than the rest of us, and feeling norms and values of a bygone era, and should be left behind just as we have left behind the other beliefs of that era. If we dont then how can we grow and how can we accept those that do believe in equality.

    Whilst this article addresses issues that shouldnt be ignored, i feel the way it is written and its ultimately biased point of view is actually detrimental to the cause you are trying to raise awareness( if that is even the point of this?) of.

    • them0rris
      Tom Shelton

      Hi Tom,

      Firstly thanks for sharing your view in such depth – the entire reason I wrote this article was because I have an opinion, but as you’ve pointed out, it’s not sovereign. I wanted to get other people’s perspectives too, so what you’ve written is of great value to me.

      I must correct you on some preliminary points, though. I didn’t grow up in a “sheltered, small rural area” (and at no point did I insinuate this – just that it was predominantly white). It just wasn’t a large city, where – as you’ve pointed out – people are a lot more indifferent to ethnic origins. In fact if you read carefully, I did state that my friend from Reading and London feel that the situations in their hometowns are a lot different to my own. I probably should have reiterated that the points I’ve made above were in particular applicable to smaller cities (although I’m not sure we’re actually “closed off from the real world”).

      For want of avoiding nit-picking on every sentence of your argument, I’m just going to make a general statement. I think if you look at both of our arguments, we actually come to the same conclusion – that racial discrimination DOES exist, but not in the blatant way it used to. Your final argument, and the point running through my entire post, are more or less the same. I don’t think we’re actually at such opposite ends of the spectrum. And I’m not too sure how I’m biased, as I ensured that I made the point that I’ve always been a “tabula rasa” of sorts when it comes to this issue. Although I did grow up in a smaller community, I’ve certainly experienced a lot of the world throughout my lifetime. I’m not exactly a country bumpkin. In fact, I currently live in Paris – one of the world’s biggest cities – and if I had the time to run you through just how racist society is here, I would. The size of the city ultimately doesn’t matter.

      I think your biggest gripe with my post is that you think I’ve branded every white person as racist. And in that sense, yes, you have missed the point of it. And as you said, you’ve read it twice, so I’m not totally sure how I can change your perspective.

      We’re all entitled to our opinions! So again, thank you for sharing yours, I wasn’t insincere when I said I do value your input. I hope I’ve cleared up some of your apparent confusion.


  • Tom Shelton

    Also, why the assumption that a white person would prefer Richard over Rick? Thats my point personified im afraid 😉

  • Tom Shelton

    The insinuation is made when you state only two people were of colour in your school. I cant imagine any school in-city having such a low amount of diversity.

    Im not arguing your conclusion, Im arguing the certain points and generalisations youve made in trying to make an impact, like a white Richard James. Whilst you are trying to make a point, that “being black is cool”, I dont think a false stereotype is the way of going about it. It actually pokes at white people not being cool, and In fact stereotyping is actually what you should be arguing against?

    Id actually disagree that “being black is cool” like you so adamantly exclaim.. What is deemed to be cool, or sought after, is the culture. By culture i mean factors such as dress sense and the music that has stemmed from said culture, like hip hop. Of course i could be wrong, but I personally dont think its the actual colour of skin that is deemed to be cool. Its more like the factors that are associated with the culture, like crime and drugs – the way of life rather than the colour of skin, if you will. This is why when white or people of other races that partake in acts that stem from the culture, like rapping, or wearing their trousers low, or that involve drugs and crime,are accused of wishing they were black. I think youll agree with that.

    And going back to where you say women are immediately classed as black cock lovers, I personally know and work with a lot of women who publicly state they only sleep with black men, and would never go with a white man, so its not as if the term black cock lover is a made up prejudice, its actually exists.

    When i used the term “all white people”, i didnt word what i wanted to say effectively. Before that quote i said if you suspect some people of something like unspoken prejudices you cannot trust them. What i meant to say was if you suspect some white people of unexercised racism, how can you trust anybody of that race not to feel the same way? I hope that makes sense now.



  • Tom Shelton

    ** Where i say “made up prejudices, it actually exists” i should go on to say: that is not to say it should be used as an insult or weapon, of course it shouldnt matter, but i guess this just proves the point you make when you say some white people are “threatened”.