As a white English man living in London, I was so used to being a victim of racism that I didn’t take too much notice of it.
When I was thrown out of London and took refuge in Liverpool, apart from becoming aware of the much larger number of people speaking my language (albeit with a mainly unintelligible accent), I didn’t really notice that I was no longer a ‘second class’ citizen.
With hindsight, I think the level of service I was given in most shops and businesses was far superior to any I’d had in London, regardless of the ethnic origin of the person providing me with the service. It’s one of those funny things you don’t immediately notice.
Well, until today.
Today, I noticed my second class citizenship once again.
I was sitting in a fastish food establishment in Mount Pleasant in Liverpool. The food businesses in Mount Pleasant are run entirely by the Muslim community, although I’m not too sure of the country of heritage of the dominant population.
So, I ordered a hot dog to eat in. When it was ready it was left on a ‘Collections’ counter and some grunting noise alerted me to get up out of my seat, walk up to the counter and get it. It was on a tray with food for my partner in crime. I took it back to my seat and ate it. It was delicious. All the food from this establishment, whilst being fast food, is excellent. And when it comes to delivery to most places in Liverpool they are fast. Super-fast.
But, on an adjacent table to us a young girl and an older woman sat. I initially didn’t notice but they were wearing Muslim covering. What I did notice, was that when their food was ready, it was carried to their table. More specifically, I noticed that their food, which was just the standard chicken and french fries from the menu, came with huge metal forks. Mine had tiny plastic forks. The type that bend and snap as soon as you attempt to spear a french fry. He then asked if they wanted any condiments. They asked for garlic sauce so he went back to the counter and got a selection of sauces and delivered them to the table.
So, why had I not had table service, metal forks and been asked if I needed condiments?
Because I was a ‘foreigner’, a non-Muslim.
Overall this is not important, but it is discrimination. Were the situation reversed and I was a Muslim being treated differently to non-Muslims in a fast food ‘restaurant’ then no doubt the Guardian would have had a tut tutting series of articles written by white middle-class millionaire socialists who would have also filled Twitter with rants about how those doing the discriminating should be ashamed.