As many of you know I am the proud auntie of two beautiful mixed-race nieces, the eldest one has enlisted as an army medic so we will shortly be waving her off with mixed emotions knowing that we reared her the best way we could and hoping that our family values have equipped her to face the challenges ahead. We have never had a problem with race, religion or sexuality and are always interested to learn another viewpoint. Additionally none of us have a life so rich that there is no room in our lives to welcome a new friend. The girls have also been brought up to be non-judgemental and embrace any opportunities that they have to experience other cultures.
In our cosseted world racism had never raised its ugly head until the girls were at primary school many years ago at around the age of seven or eight another classmate called my eldest niece, Ayesha the “N” word. A horrified dinner lady overheard and the offending child was made to apologise to Ayesha in front of the rest of the school at assembly. Ayesha is a sunny natured girl and very little manages to bring her down so I asked her if she was upset by the name calling. This resilient child who’d been educated to know her own worth and that of others, shrugged her shoulders and ran away to play with her sister thankfully not spending another second wasted thinking about this child’s racist slur.
One has to wonder where her tormentor heard this demeaning insult and I very much think that at such a young age he would not have had any comprehension of the word or the implications involved, just reciting it parrot fashion from people who should have known better.
The girls although no angels, have grown up in a liberal household where they have been encouraged to make their own choices and decisions but also made to understand that there are consequences for their actions both good and bad. As Ayesha embarks on the next stage of her life I hope that she will always continue to make us proud and vehemently defend her rights and that of others regardless of race, religion or culture.