An example of egregious subtle racism I faced yesterday.

First published in November 2021.

My family and I were at the local mall yesterday. We were hanging around in an open space with a few stalls, waiting for a member to return from a bathroom break.

We were sipping on smoothies, deciding which shop to go into next. We had lots of full shopping bags.

My baby was waddling around, interested in the bright pictures around the calendar stall, minding her own business as much as a baby can.

There were two older white men running the calendar stall. They convened, looked at us, whispered, and executed “The Move”.

One man ushered us out of the way to unruffle his calendars that my baby had been waving at from a distance. He literally shooed away my 15-month-old.

I felt that aspect went past rude, and made it dehumanising. Really not cool to do to anyone, let alone a baby just chilling out.

The other man invaded our space and peered into our shopping bags as we were moving away. It felt rather humiliating.

It felt familiar.

I wouldn’t usually have mentioned this as it’s pretty trivial on paper. But it happened the day after my documentary about structural racism was aired on national TV!

This incident encapsulates everything I have said about subtle racism: it’s nebulous, you can’t report it.

We were sipping on smoothies. My mum was wearing an Indian dress, and the rest of us were wearing western clothing.

We shop locally only to help our local businesses.

In our family party, three of us were doctors.

This really was egregious.

I am not saying that every time this sort of interaction happens that it’s racist. But if you have experienced this before, you will know exactly what I am talking about. If you have never experienced this before, please listen to your PoC friends; ask if this feels familiar to them.

I will continue our family’s policy of not buying calendars, which started 15 years ago when my older brother received a tight slap for bringing home a Pirelli Calendar.

I am terribly used to facing racism myself.

But the guy shooed away my baby. It felt like a dagger to my chest.

The worst thing? My husband looked at me, and we shared a glance that we’ve shared plenty.

It meant: “We’re not wanted here.”

PMP Magazine


Dr Meenal Viz, NHS Doctor. Writer. Activist.


Going Further:

  • Text: This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 7 November 2021 with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected, and published with the author’s consent. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.
  • Cover: Adobe Stock/Georgii.

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