I'd been asked by friends, family, fellow watch collectors and business owners, what I think of the protests going on across the world so I’ve put pen to paper. Very simply, I think it’s about time the world once again opened its eyes to the prejudices, inequalities and injustices going on and collectively said enough is enough.
I think that there have been other protests and times where the world has found its voice only for it to quickly die down and return to ‘business as usual’, this time it feels different. It feels more ‘real’ if that makes sense, not just a single event but a time when actual real change is possible. I think it feels different partly because everyone is marching, talking, and thinking about how to bring about real change, not just a minority.
We’d been told by our parents from a very young age that people could treat us differently just because of the colour of our skin, how we’d have to work harder than our white peers doing the same job, how we couldn’t afford to be an angry stereotype, how things would always be a little harder.
So, I’m thinking of some the little (and big) racial issues that I’ve experienced.;
I’m thinking of my dad telling me that when he first came to the UK, he dealt with shops saying ‘No Blacks, No Irish, No Dogs’.
I’m thinking that me and my brother were so named by our parents, because they wanted us to have as British sounding names as possible, so that when we grew up and applied for jobs recruiters wouldn't be able to tell our ethnicity from our CV.
I’m thinking about applying for jobs and walking in to the room and before even speaking, seeing the look on interviewers faces and knowing that a decision had already been made.
I’m thinking about being shouted at to go back to where I come from in the middle of Wolverhampton town centre,
I’m thinking of being told by the dad of a girl I was starting to date that “He wouldn’t let no Golli date his daughter”,
I’m thinking about in 2018 flying back from South Carolina in business class and the old guy who I helped put his bag in the locker above his seat calling me an ‘articulate young man’, as if I didn’t know how to speak properly, then his wife going further and saying that when they get home they must teach their help to be as good as me…….yeah let that one sink in.......
And finally, I’m thinking that I live in an area where I am very literally the only black guy in the village, and it inspires me to see Black Lives Matter signs in windows of houses and shops. I’m thinking that in the lifetimes of my kids, they’ll hopefully not have to experience any of the above and more, I’m thinking and hoping that finally everyone seems be on the same page and equality is long long overdue.
I don’t have the all answers and have never said I did, but anyone that knows me knows that I’m an optimist at heart and this optimism lets me believe that from the horrendous death of George Floyd and the ensuing protests, that there is hope that the future will be better, that change is coming and it’s made me think and hope.
A personal account by Andy Sealey