That headline though. A bit much? Morosely melodramatic? Potentially true?!
I’ve often said I’ll never retire; I’ll just keep making content until I drop dead. Trouble is that that might happen sooner than I had anticipated. There I go again with the drama! But after reading the next paragraph, you may find my sympathy-trolling justified.
A report just out in the UK from the Office for National Statistics confirms something that’s become increasingly apparent over the last few weeks anyway. Black people are nearly twice as likely (by 1.9 times) to die from COVID-19 coronavirus as white people. And us Brown people? Pretty well almost as much at between 1.3 times (for Indian origin) and 1.8 times (for Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin).
You can discuss, debate and dissect the possible causes for this, but drill down through the reports and findings and the only truth that emerges is – nobody knows why this is happening. It can’t be genomic methinks, otherwise the pandemic would have ravaged the populations of the Indian subcontinent, considering its less robust lockdown and social distancing etiquettes.
Even though I already knew we were somehow at greater risk, to see it starkly expressed in irrefutable maths on the BBC news website, reported on the news illustrated against a backdrop of dead black and brown people, and back-and-forthed without conclusion on Question Time, is sobering to say the least.
In fact I must say more: aghast, alarmed, anxious and annoyed – and that’s just the ‘A’s. Let’s skip ahead and bring up: exasperated, frustrated, persecuted, zeroed, beaten when down and just Goddamn kicked in the effing goolies yet again!
You were with me till ‘exasperated’ right?
If you’re a regular in the universe of the #BrownCarGuy you may have watched my recent video ‘It’s not easy being a Brown Car Guy’ – if not, why not? Well here it is again, just click on it. It’s only 10-minutes long and it’s a bit of light-hearted fun, which should raise a giggle or two, whether you relate or not. Whilst you’re there, subscribe to my YouTube channel and share it with everyone.
Right then, seen it? WHAT?! Still not?! You are really off my Christmas list. Which is just as well as I don’t have one. But if there was such a thing as an Eid list – you’d be off that too!
Above that video, in that last para, did you clock the ‘relate’ bit? It’s kinda key to this discourse. Because if you do relate, you don’t even need to read the rest of this. But if you don’t, you never will, and reading the remainder of this prose will probably not change that.
Why do I bother carrying on then? Because I always persist. Actually, that could pretty much be the tagline of my life: ‘Why do I bother carrying on.’ Nothing has ever been easy. Choosing a path as a petrolhead, inspired out of nowhere with not a car person amongst family, friend or foe for a long time; scrimping and saving for Matchbox motors and that week’s Motor magazine, under stern gazes of disapproval. Don’t ask me how the octane got in my veins. I’ve always been fuelled that way. Don’t ask me how it wasn’t flushed out. The motor’s still running.
Then compounding such unwarranted – and communally unwelcome – passions by taking up the pen as my mercenary munition and embarking on a career of wordsmithing – and latterly videosmithing (okay I made that word up; after nearly half a century of coining colloquialisms, I’m entitled – sue me). That’s instead of pursuing a traditional brown path of engineering (TVs would have caught fire, bridges would have collapsed), accounting (you’d lose millions), and medicine (he’s dead Jim!).
Media wasn’t exactly the family business, or near family, or friends, or anyone within my scope of existence really. Yet I got the bug, then a break or two or three, dropped all else, persevered and rode a rollercoaster of highs and lows that saw me edit the world’s best car magazine (although as a foreign edition – they never let me anywhere near the mothership), entertain a captive radio audience for half a dozen years and lead a TV show in which I got to live out a childhood dream–road testing cars on the telly – yeah, like William Wollard and Chris Goffey (yes okay, I’m THAT old).
Yet too many times I’ve been back to square one, like the ill-fated token on a tortuously pre-loaded game of Snakes and Ladders fixed to ensure the player fails over and over again. You are allowed the occasional misleading run of false hope as you enthusiastically bound up the two-dimensional rungs of societal and professional hierarchy, only to find your reality shattered – again – as you slither down the back of a conniving serpent intent on preserving a status quo reserved for the Brown and Black person. Remember the house always wins.
The ‘house’ being the predominant civilisation, too hung up on its pseudo-liberal hubris to realise it is inherently and blatantly, even belligerently, prejudiced, while blinkered enough to not see it. You need special vision to see it, and that only comes from having skin of an abstract hue.
The long and shortcut? It’s not easy being a Brown person doing typically non-Brown person things at the best of times. It’s a struggle, it’s tough, it’s often a case of defiant determination, fighting forward though a tidal wave of naysaying from others and, sometimes most depressingly, your own. Every little victory is heartily grabbed and relished, while every little failure can feel catastrophic. You don’t give in, you carry on, you make it work.
You build up a following, you inspire people, you engender appreciation, you do what you do as much for others as you do for yourself. Very soon you feel a sense of duty and responsibility. You couldn’t hit the brakes if you wanted to. You shift up a gear, the revs rise, it looks to be a clear road ahead – it’s gonna be a bright sunshiny day…
Then an overhead road sign gantry suddenly collapses and not only blocks your way but demolishes the tarmac. Now you have to get out and resurface the road. And that’s in a good month. But what does this latest unexpected blow mean? It means you may not even brake in time. That gantry gets you good. The end.
First the virus, then an interminable lockdown, the worst financial recession in history looms, and now… times 1.8. Sheesh. C’mon! Cut us some slack here! So back to ‘exasperated’ then. It all gets a bit much sometimes. Do you get it now? Nah, I told you, you wouldn’t.
On the off-chance you did, and you feel me bruv, then consider showing your support – monetary if you’re able, by heading over to Patreon.com/ShahzadSheikh and helping to fund me keep doing what I do – you’ll even be rewarded with some very special exclusive piece of content. If you can’t, don’t worry, please subscribe to all my channels, Like, Comment and Share etc. That all helps, it all counts, and it’s always greatly appreciated.
Like I said, the motor’s still running. For now.