Growing up in racist Britain

Shefali Saxena Monday 10th January 2022 08:50 EST

Nationwide research revealed back in 2019, that ethnic minorities in Britain were facing rising and increasingly overt racism, with levels of discrimination and abuse continuing to grow in the wake of the Brexit referendum.


71% of people from ethnic minorities reported having faced racial discrimination, compared with 58% in January 2016, before the EU vote, according to polling data seen by the Guardian.


The percentages of people from Black and Asian backgrounds reporting racial discrimination grew by more than 10 points since the EU referendum. Seven out of ten people from ethnic minorities in the UK believed racist beliefs and discrimination are widespread.


Meanwhile in 2021, under provisions in Clause 9 of the Nationality and Borders bill, nearly six million individuals could be stripped of their British citizenship without warning. 


Are immigrants being treated as second class citizens a recent phenomenon? Here’s a story of a man who establishes that Britain was always racist. 


Box (Timeline)


  • In London 1986/87, Jagrut Patel was kicked around a playground by teenagers for the colour of his skin. 
  • In 2003, he moved out to the countryside and encountered a lady in her late 70’s from an affluent background who passed racist remarks. 
  • Between 2003 - 2015, a number of theft and racial reports were submitted to the Police, which they failed to investigate. One included CCTV evidence, which went to court, but the court dispelled the case on grounds of lack of evidence, completely disregarding the CCTV footage. 
  • In 2010/11, Patel had to take a local primary school to the LEA (Local Education Authority) for not dealing with bullying and racial issues at school. They kept brushing it off as playground matters. Patel had a long fight with the school and the board of governors to even acknowledge the matter as bullying and racism. 

Jagrut Patel, a former banker, is now a property businessman in Dorset and a part-time black cab driver in London. He came to the UK with his parents and brother in 1986. The family moved into Patel’s grandparents’ house. “I wasn’t told that we were coming for good,” he told Asian Voice. Originally from Anand, India, Patel’s mother is a Swaminarayan devotee, who came to the UK from Uganda.  


Jagrut went to school and university in the UK and eventually started working. Over the years, he saw and felt racism in Britain in different forms, “some were subtle, some, loud and clear.” 


Describing the first time he went to play outside, Jagrut said that some teenage boys (15-year-olds) came up to him and started kicking him for “no reason”. He was flabbergasted. Then a woman shouted at him, “Why are you in this country?” 


In 2003, when Jagrut bought a store in Dorset, a customer told him he didn’t belong there.


After finishing university, Jagrut bought his own business in the countryside. “From the very first day, it became obvious that I was like an eyesore,” he said.


Jagrut calls it ‘subtle racism’ which in his understanding was polite, but still racist. He is married and has three children who have also suffered a similar fate. 


Patel reiterated that Britain was racist before Brexit. 


“There is strong reluctance from the authorities to address racism and admit it exists. There could be a number of reasons around this, Ofsted reports, regional racial records (Lottery funding) which impact on regeneration fundings and PR,” Patel to us. 


After Brexit and during the pandemic in May 2020, Patel wrote a post on Facebook which captured the attention of the local community. 


In his post, Patel wrote that he and his daughter went on a jog in Gillingham, Dorset on 9th June 2020. As they were jogging past the co-op roundabout, a silver Zafira with a Caucasian female driver and male passenger did a full loop of the roundabout. “Obviously, you’d look at the car. Upon seeing us, the male shouted ‘PAKI!’,” he wrote. Here are some selected excerpts: 


“This is Gillingham, Dorset on 9th June 2020. Please do not patronise me with stories of that is a minority and everyone else is wonderful. 


“My ten-year-old girl heard that. What has that man given her as a memory of what strangers think of her in the town she was born and lives in? Her mother is a teacher at Gillingham School, she teaches hundreds of kids at Gillingham High School. Her elder two sisters have both experienced racism in their primary schools. 


“My wife experienced it in a micro-aggression manner, not even the teachers who knew about it could reply appropriately. 


“Because after sixteen years of having lived in a town with a population of under 10,000, having worked with people, directly and indirectly, we have a catalogue of racial crimes/grievances which have been unaddressed. 


“But if one family has experienced over 20 counts of racial discrimination in a space of 16 years, the citizens have to accept there is much work to be done in terms of acceptance and tolerance.”


Following this, Dorset Police got in touch to investigate this and promised a thorough investigation. The local MP also got in touch with Patel. However, nothing ever happened. A local resident recognised the person and details were given. The Police interviewed the individual, but it was deemed insufficient because he didn’t admit he said anything racial. The MP made his political excuses and left it at that. 


Patel added further, “To this day my daughters will get racially abused, the school will not take the matter seriously or put into place long term measures to address racism. The head teacher’s view is he won’t exclude any individual from this kind of issue. The students keep getting away with it, and the problem is never addressed, and these children grow up in society to inflict further racist views in society.”


 “However, their lifestyle, their upbringing, their knowledge, their environment, is all English. They associate with and understand more about Christmas than they do about Diwali. My kids are very anti-racist, anti-homophobia, anti-sexism, and all about women's rights, and are growing up with a new set of ideas of their own. I don't try to impose my beliefs on them. I just try to correct them in my own way,” Jagrut told the newsweekly. 

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