Casual Racism in Banbury Post Office

“Could you stop being racist please?”

The white man behind me in the queue at the Post Office in Banbury High Street looked surprised that I had addressed him. He was about the same age as my father (but a lot less coherent). Late sixties. He looked curious – possibly Jewish in origin. Well – he had a hooked nose anyway. Or maybe just a fat nose. I don’t really know. But certainly he fulfilled that nasty stereotype of what a Jew looks like – the one that dates back to the 13th Century and is rooted is deep racism. His facial features suggested that he wasn’t Northern European in ancestry anyway – and I suppose that’s what really matters here.

“I’m not talking to you girl, I’m addressing the foreigner. He shouldn’t be here.”

The ‘foreigner’ in front of me was also clearly not of Northern European ancestry either. Moments before I’d actually been idly admiring his dark, close curls of hair that suggested either Mediterranean or Middle Eastern ancestry while I waited to collect a parcel of supplies for my business. He’d been chatting to another friend in the queue and was holding the slip of paper that you use to transfer ownership of a car, and his friend was clearly telling him exactly what he needed to do with the form. Brits love a good form to fill out, don’t they? They were speaking a language I didn’t recognise, so I guess it mustn’t have been European. Well the Jewish-looking man had also figured that one out and had started to loudly tell everyone around him that foreigners didn’t belong in this country. Hence why I asked him to stop. I don’t want to be near that kind of behaviour while I’m going about my business.

“I’m afraid I am indeed allowed to be here Sir” the ‘foreigner’ said. “I’m American and I’m here on a work visa.” He was clearly quite timid and he looked at me and smiled. There are quite a few American nationals around Banbury because of all the motorsports companies in the areas. They hire the best – including ‘foreigners’.

Anyway, the man was next in line and was called up to the counter. I figured that would be the end of the matter.

It wasn’t.

“Bloody foreigners. Good job we can get rid of them all this week when we vote to be out.” The Jewish-looking man seemed to be addressing the two men behind and in front of him. They were both looking nervously at their feet and shuffling.

I repeated my request.

“Could you stop being racist please?”

“Do you work for the post office?”

“No.”

“Well you’re not a foreigner either, so it’s none of your business.”

“I’m sorry, but you made it my business when you declared your views publicly” I said calmly to him.

He rolled his eyes. The other two men were clearly getting more and more uncomfortable.

“I wouldn’t give you a job.” He then told me.

“I don’t need a job.” I replied.

“Bloody benefits scroungers. That’s what you are. You’re just living on my tax money. Bet you’re pregnant too so that you can get more of it.”

I gave up. The next window at the counter was free. I looked back and the man who had been standing behind me looked away and went bright red. He knew he should have said something. He didn’t.

You have to be an ally. You have to stand up for people. You can’t just stay out of this shit – it affects us all.

And we can’t let these people vote us out of the EU on Thursday. We can’t let these people have their voices heard.