Black History Month 2021
Robert is a volunteer at George House Trust and has written a four-part blog for Black History Month 2021. Here is part 2......
My early years of teaching were far from easy as the stereotype mentality of some parents and visitors to the different schools where I taught was quite embarrassing. On numerous occasions I was mistaken for the care-taker or some kind of “handy-man” so when I said I was a teacher, you could see the surprise on the person’s face as if to say; shouldn’t you have a broom in your hand?
I saw myself repeatedly passed over for promotion and even though I was almost a straight “A” student and was awarded a distinction for my teaching. I was scrutinised much more than my white colleagues. When my students did well in exams, no one mentioned good teaching, as their success was because they were bright and capable. When they failed it wasn’t due to their laziness or that they hadn’t applied themselves, no it was down to bad teaching. It was my fault!
I had a break from teaching and went to work as Cabin Crew for a few years and it was noticeable on how few occasions I got to work at the front in Business Class. I can only assume that cabin crew managers did not feel that a slightly older man of colour should be serving in this particular cabin on the aircraft. Yet in training school we were told that we must work in all cabins on a regular basis.
I guess some sociologists might call this a type of “Hidden Apartheid”. When I was given an award one month, for having the most letters of commendation from passengers on my flights by my Fleet Manager, one crew member was heard to remark “I bet he has his friends on his flights and gets them to write in to praise him”.
Looking at the funnier side of things, I remember a teacher at one school stating that she was sick of people stereo-typing her as since she came from Wales everyone seemed to think her father was a coal miner and he was called Taffy.
Then I looked at her and said now you know how I feel as people seem to think because I’m from Jamaica my father was a bus driver and my mother a hospital orderly because those were the predominant roles that West Indian immigrants took on arrival in the UK.
So, when she enquired what jobs my parents did and I mentioned that my dad was an electrical engineer with his own company and that my mother was a trained pharmacist with her own business, she seemed surprised!
Part 3 coming later this week......
11th October 2021