‘You know you don’t belong’: Why people of colour don’t feel welcome in pubs

Pubs

Pubs are important community spaces which are often romanticised as a key part of British culture, but for some – namely people of colour – the local boozer isn’t a place they can enter without feeling like outsiders.

By Faima Bakar

Kevin Divine*, who is Black, has felt that hostility in pubs many times. ‘When you look at all the flags outside a pub and see just white people inside, it makes you think twice,’ he tells Metro.co.uk. ‘Pubs are seen as super British but the “Britishness” they represent is kind of at odds with the kind of Britain I occupy and envision.’

‘One time, I went inside and it was like one of those scenes from a Western flick when the out-of-towner steps into a saloon and all the patriots stop what they’re doing and follow his every move.’ ‘Even the bartender forgot he was pouring a pint and let it overflow.’ Kevin, from Hull, – which was named City of Culture in 2017 – is one of many people of colour who have experienced this sense of being unwelcome in pubs across the UK. ‘That was uncomfortable but a part of me found it funny and kind of sad that people have that reaction to me being in the room,’ remembers Kevin. ‘My friends and I wouldn’t go to these places anymore because why put yourself in that environment?’

While it would be unfair to say that all pubs are unwelcoming purely because they’re often adorned with flags, there is tense relationship between Black and brown British people and the Union Jack or the St George’s flag. Some feel it conjures up images of English nationalism or reminds them of far-right movements – such as The National Front, which adopts the Union Jack in its logo. As well as decor, there are other tangible reasons that may deter people from entering or feeling welcome in pubs – including problematic names. Last year, a pub that shared a moniker with slavetrader Edward Colston was renamed after the Black Lives Matter protests. A chain decided to rename three of its establishments – including The Black Boy and The Black’s head – due to their ‘racist connotations’.

After UCL compiled a database of firms connected to slavery, another pub, Greene King, changed its title due the plantation connection of its namesake Benjamin Greene. A study last summer found that one in three people would avoid pubs if they had a racist name or signage.

Kevin isn’t alone in his wariness towards pubs. Anthony, a Filipino person who has lived in Newham his whole life, has a pub at the end of his street – but he never goes in.

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How to support Black creative projects in Scotland

We spotlight some of the most exciting Black-led creative projects happening in Scotland and further abroad, including the Black Lives Matter mural and Fringe of Colour, and ways you can help out.

Another week, another article – we could get used to this! This week, we’re spotlighting some incredible projects by Black creatives in Scotland and further afield (dare we say…England?), as well as highlighting some causes open for donations. The conversation surrounding Black Lives Matter has definitely dwindled in some circles, but we believe anti-racism requires not only long-term commitment, but also active participation – seeking out names, projects, and stories mainstream white culture might otherwise not expose you to.

 

To that end, we’ve lined up some of the most exciting work happening in this strange year. Black Lives Matter murals are popping up in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness thanks to a new trail produced by Wezi Mhura. Fringe of Colour, which made huge waves during last year’s Fringe season, is back with its own online arts festival. And we have a whole bunch of books and films we’ve been obsessively reading and watching that we’d love to share with you, too. Read, share, donate – let’s keep the conversation going.

Project Myopia
Founded by two University of Edinburgh students, Rianna Walcott and Toby Sharpe, Project Myopia is a call to diversify university curricula through articles, artwork, and video essays that explore texts traditionally left out of the canon. They accept submissions year round, or you can donate here. Image: Susie Purvis. Continue reading

PM accused of misleading MPs on race review response

Boris Johnson said 16 recommendations from the Lammy review have been implemented but the Labour MP disagrees.

The shadow justice secretary is accusing Boris Johnson of misleading the Commons at Prime Minister’s Questions, when he claimed the government had implemented 16 recommendations from his review into the treatment of ethnic minorities in the criminal justice system.

 

In a letter to the prime minister – seen by the BBC – David Lammy urges Mr Johnson to correct what he calls “a catalogue of falsehoods” – and says only six of those 16 recommendations have been implemented.

Mr Lammy was asked by former Conservative prime minister David Cameron to carry out an independent review into the treatment of people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities by the criminal justice system in England and Wales.

His report, published in September 2017, contained 35 recommendations. Continue reading