I Grew Up in The Most Racist Town in England

It was heaven and hell

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Photo by Etty Fidele on Unsplash

I grew up in one of the most racist towns in England, it was heaven and hell. Navigating my way from the bus stop to my family house after school was a challenging game of chess, avoiding the racist groups of white boys and finding ways not to get eggs or other objects thrown at me. I was always on high alert, I was always ready to fight.

My parents moved us from a small inner-city town in South East London to a very white, sleepy suburb in Kent, just outside, London but close enough to have access to our African grocery stores.

The place, the most racist town in England at that time is called Welling. It lies somewhere between the South East London town of Plumstead and Bexleyheath, another predominantly white town in Kent.

At the time, the British National Party(BNP) housed their headquarters in Welling. The British National Party are notorious for their racist and anti-Black, anti-Asian and Anti-LGBTQ views. They were often blamed for inciting racist attacks and riots.

Their headquarters were situated just five minutes away from the three-bedroom house that my parents bought in Welling. My heart would pound and my legs would shake every time I would walk past the blue boarded up semi-detached house on Wickham Lane, Welling.

In 1993, Stephen Lawrence, an 18-year old student was stabbed to death by a group of racist thugs in nearby Eltham, the senseless killing of this young man who was a family friend was gutwrenching for the black community. It happened at a time when I was just about to start secondary school at an all-white school in Sidcup, Kent. I was terrified to start school, I had this fear of being stabbed to death and left bleeding on the concrete floor.

In school, I fought for my sanity every day because I was subject to non-stop racial abuse. I didn’t back down though, I fought, just like my mother taught me to.

When the school day ended, the racial abuse continued, it didn’t end when the bell rang. Going home should have been an exciting time for 12-year-old me, but it wasn’t. It was a scary time.

I ran to the bus stop every day to get the first seat on the bus. I hated the crowds, the groups…

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