Note: i choose here to write about only one incident that happened as i was growing up in Northeast London in the seventies. There are so many stories to tell and this is but one of them. Everything here is true, and while that may be hard to swallow, i think the weight of cultural evidence supports this story, and more, those who like me, lived through the Race Riots of the seventies and lived to tale the tale could surely tell you equally horrifying stories of their own. Note that this not a story that should divide us among class lines - quite the contrary. It is shared here as a way,perhaps, for us to learn how wrong it is to do that and a way of telling that those London Skins by no means represented all of us, or even most of us, and certainly not me. As i said, this is one story, and if this is interesting to anyone, perhaps i'll share more. — srp
A friend said, you should write about it, you know. And I thought about it for a minute and thought no. Who would want to hear about those things that we somehow survived, that were London in the seventies and gave nothing to recommend. Who wanted to know that where we lived was where the Skinheads had started their riots, where they came to cause trouble in our quiet part of London, where everybody was black - West African mostly, or Pakistani or India, save for me and my friend Stevie, who was also epileptic and white. I guess I had spent so many years of my life in this neighborhood that I never really noticed a difference between the so-called them and the so-called us. I never thought I was any different from any other black kid, except I wasn't black, I was painfully white and no matter how hard I tried to fit in, the younger kids my own age may accept me into their group but the older kids always had a sneer in the eye, a look of real hatred that to a child of seven or so was confusing.
I didn't understand why those bald, white guys would come around throw milk bottles with gasoline in them and light them on fire. OR why they would call people "wog" and beat the crap out of them. They never bothered me. I would watch them move into the neighborhood at night, like a flock of angry gulls descending on the coast, they moved in all peg-legged and stiff and started squawking trouble to the night. They would see me sitting on the ledge by the front door and rub my hair. They were always nice to me, but I could see they weren't' always nice to other people. But since I was young, I had escaped being picked on by either side. I had only black and Indian friends except for Stevie simply because there were no other people to be friends with and they accepted me and I accepted them. We were kids. No one had told us we weren't supposed to like each other and we had managed to ignore the prejudices of our own parents, thank god, so all was well, until one day some older kids got ahold of me in the projects just around the corner and took me as "prisoner" they said.