‘Acceptable Racism’? by Sherrie Smith
Bill Cook is a Romany Gypsy and a father of three from Kent who regularly posts short videos on Facebook intended for the Gypsy/Traveller community. This week he posted 2 short videos on what is often called ‘the last acceptable racism’ towards Gypsies and Travellers. They have both gone viral with over 170,000 views and shares in a week.
In the first video he shows how posters warning people not to use businesses run by Gypsies or Travellers have sprung up in his little village of Longfield, near Seven Oaks in Kent. presumably put up by racist local residents who have united. Details of eight businesses owned and managed by Gypsies have been targeted so far, despite the signs being removed by Bill, they have been replaced. Why do people do this? These people whose children went to school with Bills children, can it be jealousy? Do they wish they had the confidence and courage of a Traveller? The freedom and the family unity that Bill and the other Travellers have?
Posted by Mike Doherty on Monday, 4 April 2016
It's a certainly not because of the old chestnuts like benefit claiming, lazy scroungers, work shy, you know the propaganda the newspapers roll out regularly just like on the front page of the Express this week.
The local villagers involved are attacking reputable businesses on ethnicity alone and they are not alone. There is also a Facebook group called “North East Scammers”, which is little more than a Gypsy, Roma, Traveller hate page. Posting businesses, stopping places, pictures of number plates of Traveller vans, even checking all suspected Gypsy/Traveller vehicles with the car licensing people at the DVLA. It is harassment, it is a crime and it is illegal. Trying to diminish the earning capacity of families who already find employment almost impossible due to their culture, ethnicity or even because of their address. The tightening of many laws including scrapping, hawking have just limited earning capacity even further over the last few years. Earmarking us for poverty over the next 50 years and it’s all just for being born a Traveller or a Gypsy. Even with education and going the route of settling, buying a home, working hard to set up your own business mean nothing in the eyes of the racists stirring up trouble in places like Longfield.
Would any other minority be expected to endure this?
Those that stand against Bill Cook and the other Gypsies and Travellers comprising of 250 neighbors and acquaintances and all this to stop Travellers living and working legally. They tell us to do “Integration and social inclusion” but how can this be possible? So we are a hard to reach community or is the reach too hard?
Bills lived in this small village for many years, he attended the local school, he left age 13, and he’s worked since and set up a successful storage business. Bill is teetotal, doesn’t get in any trouble and just wants to live in peace with his family around him.
Surely this is a perfect neighbor?
Bills biggest gripe, the reason he had to voice his frustration in the social media videos, was the elderly retired neighbor who said “come off it Bill, I used to be an estate agent and you will devalue my property!!!” What are we vermin? Similar to living near a rubbish dump or nuclear power plant? No we are just humans like everyone else, our skin isn’t thicker, and it doesn’t hurt any less.
Ten years ago when Bill bought the run down dilapidated bungalow it was an eyesore, covered in graffiti after it was abandoned for many months, and over the years since he’s moved in, Bill has transformed it in to being a beautiful family home with stables and caravans for his grown up children and grandchildren.
Bill tells me: “I don’t want for my grandchildren to have heard of ‘the last acceptable racism’ towards their culture when they grow up.” That’s his main wish - not vengeance - but to totally stamp out racism being OK because we are Gypsies.
As for myself I know that if we report every single incident of racism, then we can push to get our own hate crime figures just like every other minority in Britain, then we can start to make the good people see that it is not acceptable.
This week Bill and I will be visiting a police station to report this as a hate crime because that’s what it is. Neither of us is relishing the thought of visiting the gavvers for the day, but we have to stop racism and the only way to stop racism is to REPORT IT. We are assuming the police will probably do nothing, as is common, and this time we will push and find out why. I would like to think as a crime it will be investigated, but we shall see if the police see it is as acceptable racism.
I made appointment to see police on Friday for Tuesday. On Saturday I received a call to tell me local PCSO would look in to it and there was no need to come to appointment. After much debate and me telling them I’m not satisfied with that as I want to report it as a hate crime to an actual police officer. I will keep you informed as to how it goes.