We are saddened by the two stories of racial abuse on their streets which featured in the news at the weekend.
Glaswegians are rightfully proud of their reputation as a hospitable and welcoming city. “Glasgow Smiles Better” “The Friendly City” “People Make Glasgow”. Those that take great pride in these slogans would have been saddened by the two stories of racial abuse on their streets which featured in the news at the weekend.
The first reported that Minister For External Affairs, Humza Yousaf was subjected to racist abuse while taking part in an event to raise awareness of The Big Issue street paper. Humza was selling the magazine outside Glasgow Queen Street Station last week when a man shouted “f*** off back home” and threatened him. The attack is being investigated by Police Scotland.
The second drew attention to an incident which took place almost two years ago. A busker known as Melo, was subjected to verbal and physical abuse by two men in the city’s Sauchiehall Street. The incident was caught on camera by a crew filming a documentary for the BBC. The men were later charged and convicted of racial abuse.
There is much in these two stories which could be cause for concern; the assumption that the colour of someone’s skin means they “belong” elsewhere and have less right to make a living on Glasgow’s streets than others. Or maybe that the city which is about to welcome people from across the world to an international sporting event, might not be as friendly as we has thought.
However, perhaps the most worrying element of the two stories, is that it has taken the high profile of a government minister and a BBC documentary to make them newsworthy. Big Issue editor, Paul McNamee said of the attack on Humza, “One in three Big Issue vendors faces verbal or physical abuse while they are working hard to earn a living selling the magazine… This abuse which was directed at Glasgow MSP Humza Yousaf was inexcusable, and sadly illustrates the sort of challenges that our vendors regularly have to overcome.” While, Melo, who has since left Scotland to live in England, said he’d been subjected to some form of racial abuse every day of the fifteen years he spent in Scotland.
At Show Racism the Red Card we feel we can never become complacent about racism. Last year we encouraged 13,000 young people to think critically about the myths and stereotypes perpetrated about people from other cultures. We asked them to think about the damage racism does to those who suffer it, those who carry it out and the communities we live in. We tried to give them the confidence to safely challenge it where the witness it. We know, like the individuals involved in these incidents, that many of us carry prejudice and misconceptions. We give them the facts and information to remove those burdens. Sometimes young people tell us that they’ve used racist behaviour and language in the past, usually after our input - freed of the burden of myth - they say they won’t again. Our approach works.
Show Racism the Red Card also run an annual Creative Competition where we encourage Scotland’s young people to creatively make their stance against racism. This year we were delighted that over 4500 young people sent us a poster, song or DVD telling us that racism was intolerable to them and that the Scotland they wanted to live in was welcoming and friendly to all. Through education and challenging prejudice we can stop the kind of abuse Humza and Melo suffered on Glasgow’s streets.