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Thoughts on my Dad being a racist

January 14, 2015

So…this video went around various sites recently and caused a bit of controversy. The bastion of integrity and truth The Daily Mail* picked it up, which had ripple effects. A lot of people said a lot of things and they were (like most things on the internet) without any basis in fact and generally motivated by their own personal agendas. The only reason I’m talking about it…well that shouty balding bloke is my Dad.

It would have completely passed me by as well, had it not been my quite distraught sister contacting me about it. I didn’t engage, even though people started to say some quite horrible things about my family that really shouldn’t be said.

So I’ve lain low and not really talked about this until its blown over and gone away and I can rationally process it, without it bringing more attention to my family. I certainly didn’t want my families sole contribution to popular culture be that apparently my Dad is a racist.

So here are a mixture of both my thoughts and clarifications to some of the rubbish that was published. I’m still a little angry over this, so forgive any asides:

1. Well, congrats to my Dad at least. He managed to be racist just before Cornish people actually were classified as a minority. He has timing at least 😉

2. A big part of the coverage was all about how Philip Brown was ex army. Well, so is my Dad. He served his time. So can we stop playing ‘my military contribution is bigger than yours’ UK media?

…Sorry, this list thing isn’t really working.

But here’s the main thing. I certainly don’t condone why my Dad said, but the nature of who is Cornish and who is not is kind of tumultuous at the moment.

People who have lived in Cornwall their entire lives, despite being born elsewhere have claimed the mokier as their own. People who were born there have been disowned by traditionalists for the most petty of reasons. Most of the nationalists are bellends so few listen to them anyway.  In my Dads’ eyes’ he’s more Cornish than he ever was Liverpudlian (he’s certainly spent more time in Cornwall at this point).

Another point is that people can’t understand how he flew off the handle so quickly. Where as to me, I wouldn’t expect anything else. Growing up with my Dad having undiagnosed problems with depression and a lot of other things, I see that man who has a lot of trouble admitting weakness because of how he was raised and the bullshit societal standards we seem to have. He’s a man who I never saw cry until I was in my teenage years. He was a man who’s reaction to feeling too much emotion was to immediately go on the offensive, to channel it to aggression because I think it’s all he knew how to do. I think that’s still around and the only way he’s found to ease his anger is surfing**.

Now he’s certainly mellowed in his old age. I’m not quite sure what the catalyst was, but it was probably him getting cancer a few years back. I would like to think it was him realising that when pushed I had just as much fire inside as him, just better controlled. But that’s sentimental and soppy and I’m not sure how much of that plays a part in my Dad’s life.

I think it’s why my sister was a lot more distraught at the video. She wasn’t old enough to remember the worst of it and my Dad and her always shared a closer bond than he and I did.

The kind of man my Dad is one who is frustrated a lot I think. It’s not there as much these days, but I catch it in the times we talk. But he’s never let that frustration spill out into prejudice. He has his pet hates, but it was based on people and their actions, not where they come from or who they are.

In his own way he always tried to show my sister and I that we could do and be whoever we wanted. Despite him probably being the reason for half of my hangups, he’s the one I got my optimism from.

But also, I understand that I have all of that context. We rarely get that in life, only snapshots. Snapshots like that video. That video that shows a man at his worst.

So if you take one thing away from this, know one thing. My Dad can be a proper knob sometimes. But he’s not a racist. Because he taught me from his own actions, that life is longer than we think and we waste far too long on petty grudges and hatred.

He made me realise, growing up, that we’re all better than that. Whether he meant to or not.

*As I’m aware how in real life how people fail to pick up on my very dry humour, I should point out I think the exact opposite.

**Plus, I don’t know if you’ve ever been broadsided by a careless surfer, but it can kill you. It’s the equivalent of someone nearly hitting you on the road, then swerving away at the last moment. The very least most people would have is some cross thoughts. Someone had a camera this time is all.

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