Had the pleasure of sitting in a bus with a loud mouth racist talking about a particular area of South London, at the top of his voice. He was talking to his girlfirend about why he hates it so much there - "the Blacks and their violence" - and how much he'd prefer to go back to the East End, trying to convice her that he was right. That he was speaking the truth and he didn't care who heard. Everyone on the bus, all of us together from across the spectrum of cultural and ethnic backgrounds, were all forced to hear.

I tried to block it out, not pick up any detail. I was on my way to the launch of a project by an organisation founded to empower non-western (background) artists. (I add that for irony value.)

Getting off the bus, I looked back at the guy, still hammering on in top voice. He was sitting next to his girlfriend. They both looked normal, not the usual self-proclaimed racist with badly drawn fading tatts and a Number 1.

At the launch, I was told a story about acts of racism towards someone else, a friend of a friend. I have decided that this kind of thing, hearsay, is outside the bounds of this project.
I believe hearsay is one of the cornerstones of prejudice. It feeds racist assumptions and beliefs, working along the lines of "these people get x whereas we get only y, or nothing", as it often goes - a firm foundation for paranoid beliefs about how well "those foreigners" are doing compared with "us".
This guy may have had horrible things done to him when he was living in a particular area, but also the story may have changed in the re-telling.IT may have been exaggerated or manipulated to serve the story-teller's ideas.
I could ask what the story-teller is trying to achieve by telling me this? I don't know but I do know the act of describing things that have happened to "people like me", builds up my levels of paranoia, and adds to my own stereotypes.

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