Some Step In, Some Step Out

Reflecting on the behaviour of white colleagues and neighbours

Hello friends,

I may have talked about this before in other places, but I’ve been reflecting on how colleagues - and neighbours - I’ve known have behaved faced with the presence of Black people - or this Black woman - in their circles. And I’ve come to the conclusion that there are those who step in to racist behaviour and those who step out.

Stepping out looks like coming back home after an afternoon study session (I was doing my MA at the time) to realise that all the neighbours in my close were invited to a barbecue at the house next door. I can’t remember why I needed to contact the neighbour - maybe a package left at my house or something? - but I did. And she looked pretty sheepish as the noise of the festivities seeped out.

Stepping in looks like a friend’s neighbours who were warned off moving in next to a (said in hushed tones) Black family, and not only moved in, but told the family in question and reported the bigotry to the estate agents’ head office.

Stepping out looks like failing to mention there’s an after-work get-together and then looking discomfited when it later comes out in conversation that everyone but the Black team member knew about it.

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