Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Um I know you're probably not the manager here but.....

So I had this T shirt on my concience for a while, it is in this shop on North Bridge called Star. I don't wear little jackts with coloured stars on, but if I did I would certainly buy them elsewhere...

It has a little swoosh and it says Pikey, Just Nick It, though I misread it, I thought it said pikey 'just kick it' The first time I saw it I was suitabley appaled at what seemed to be the incitement of violence against a racialised group, but I was late for work, ok that's a convenient enough reason to just leave it for now...

Then on it continued with the mental excuses, like when you tell yourself you are too poor to buy the big issue, or sign up to give Oxfam a fiver a week . Still the little voice inside my head which whispers things like 'you know if you don't actively oppose this, you condone it' wouldn't shut up, so I decided to cross the road ( I had taken to walking on the other side - I think ' I can't go and say something because it's on the other side of the road' is the most pitiful of mental excuses)

So I went in and there was a woman with long black hair working at the till. Now I know the people in the shop didn't make the T shirt, and they probably hate their shitty jobs - which is why I feel bad complaining to them. Hence my approach is woefully sheepish, which is stupid because I know my point to be valid and ultimately right. Also I don't see why I should be the only one to have a pricking conscience, and someone did decide to order and sell that T shirt.

'Um I know you are probably not the manager here but, you're selling this T shirt that is kind of, well it's incitement of violence against a racialised group - that one that says pikey just kick it'
It was then pointed out that it says 'Pikey just nick it' which is worse really, but it meant a change in my argument ' Well um, that's just as bad, I mean it makes out that Gypsies just steal things'

An Emo guy came along and pointed out that the police had been in, and that they had a good laugh at it.

Aaaah the police, I thought, that well known force of justice, fairness and not being racist pricks.

'Yeah, but the police are a bunch of racist pricks' - I did indeed say that, I sensed it might give me a bit of crediblity. I mean these guys had lots of piercings, that necessitates a mistrust of the 'pigs' doesn't it?

(I am aware that there are probably some fanatastic anti racist individuals in the police force, and what I said was a generalisation and I should perhaps have said ' yes well, the police force is reported to suffer from problems of racism, both institutional and personal, though no doubt some individuals have good intentions, such a position of power is particularly open to abuse, and that the victims and purpotraters of crimes are really victims of an intrinsically unjust social system which the police form an opressive part of'. Still I think the basic point is the same.)

This made them smile and I think showed them that I had a sense of humour, god forfend we British ever be accused of not having a sense of humour. I sometimes think it is our biggest concern, something that has been shown in the recent london Mayoral elections, still I digress.

'People who call themselves pikeys have been in and they thought it was funny'

Now I am 99.9998% sure that is bullshit. I try to imagine the situation 'Hello there, I am a Romany Gypsy, with a long lasting heritage and I find the term pikey really rather amusing, and in no way offensive. I also find the fact that you reduce our historic lifestyle to mere theft to be particularly funny, which is afterall much more important than the fact that it encourages people to hate and mistreat us - do you know where I could pick up a copy of the Daily Mail?'

On the offchance that gypsy travellers did happen upon the T shirt, and laughed, this obviously does not make it ok. I also wonder if the term 'pikey' is understood in Scotland, and maybe he think it just means 'Ned'.

Anyway I mutter something about Edinburgh Lothian Race Equality Council, and leave, probably having made little difference but at least I don't have to cross the street to avoid my concience. Unless of course there are big issue sellers, or Oxfam direct debit recruiters..