Sometimes I feel that I’m not cut out for this. I look back to the days when I desperately wanted to build a platform. Now I feel like I would get on better if I had some distance from what I talk and write about. Some folks have that distance advantage. They pick a topic that they’re vaguely interested in yet not effected by, and write about it. But I’ve got skin in the game. When I talk and write about race and structural disadvantage, I talk and write from the perspective of someone who is state & former poly educated, from the fifth most deprived borough in London, from a place where black people earn much less than their white counterparts, where their life expectancy is 9 years less, where your race drastically impacts your access to housing, employment and education.
This makes me legitimately furious. It makes me so angry and upset. But I also recognise that I am the exception. People from where I’m from don’t end up as journalists. They don’t get book deals.
And I have godforsakenly found myself in a career where I find myself up against people who aren’t affected by any of this but feel confident enough to assert their dominance over every conversation about it any way. It feels like a sick and twisted game that I will have to reluctantly play forever. For them it’s a thought exercise, little more than what they indulged in in their university debating societies. For me it keeps me up at night. When I hear about another black person dying in police custody I think about the world that my future children will have to grow up in and it makes me genuinely terrified.
I’m not Oxbridge educated so I’ve not had that training of learning to defend your argument from all angles. But in a way this doesn’t feel like an argument. It’s the reality I see every time I go home to visit my family. I’ve got skin in the game because when I write about ending racism, I’m talking about my brother’s life chances and my sister’s life chances.
In a week where the press coalesced around a student officer who didn’t invite white people to their event, another news story was getting barely any attention. Sheku Bayoh’s family have been given five different accounts of the cause his death from police who had arrested him near his home shortly before he died, and they still don’t have answers.
I hope one day that the former news story is considered trivial and the latter fucking scandalous, instead of the other way around.