Manchester stand up and say something!

Black and White.

I know how TV works, heck I’ve had more than enough experience of how engineered certain shows can be. But Channel4’s new show right after firstdates is eye spy.

Stephen Fry narrates this new series which tests to see if the people of Great Britain really are ‘great’ and can be heroes when faced with a particularly challenging situation. Eye Spy features ingenious hidden camera stunts that throw up assorted moral dilemmas and psychological conundrums to wrestle with, challenging the notion inherent in many news stories that our ‘once great nation is going to the dogs’. You may say you’d do the right thing in a highly-pressured situation, but only when you’re actually in the moment can you ever really know.

One of the situations was a racist waiter who couldn’t deal with mixed race couples. Actually as the site says, outrageously racist waiter.

The things he said were so direct to the mixed race couple and so loud everyone could clearly hear everything being said.

And he’s the main point of concern for myself…  They ran the test in London and in Manchester. Not just Manchester but Salt & Pepper in Castlefield, a place I would go to with a date (and to be fair most of my dates are European woman)

In London, a place which is more racially diverse (as the programme points out too) the waiter got told to shut up before the couple got up and left. Actually although they ran the experiment a few times the result was the same.

However in Manchester the couple had to endure the out and out ball faced racism of the waiter. In the end they got up and left, after they were told they were upsetting the rest of the restaurant!

No one stood up and said a word, no one said anything, not a single person. They just sat there in silence eating and not saying a word. Not a single person would stand up and say your bang out of order to the waiter. Heck even getting up and walking out would have sent a clear signal that people were not happy, which is what happened when they ran the same experiment in reverse with a white couple in an Indian restaurant.

So it drives me insane to know that if I and a lady was facing such racism, no one would get involved. Not only that people would sit there in silence! Not a single word… (Shocking!) And it wasn’t like the people were old, the people seemed like students into your mid 30s type and should have known better… There is no excuse for saying nothing!

When I first looked at Manchester I did worry about being in a northern city. I seen programmes about other cities near by where separation between the races are closer to something I’ve only experienced in parts of America. Don’t get me wrong growing up in Bristol wasn’t easy. My parents amazingly moved into a area which was very white and survived through all the NF sprayed on the house, brick attacks, etc. I was also one of only 2 Black guys in my primary/junior school. I could tell stories of running away from the National Front (Kingswood was well known for being their stomping grounds) and the different brushes I’ve had with racism including in London a couple times.

What bugs me is like David Starky’s ranting is these people do/should know better. My parents and our old  lovely neighbours supported them greatly and stood up for them. Without their support things would have been a lot worst… So you can see why I’m pissed at those people and I guess the fact Manchester for not doing better.

What kind of society are we if we don’t all stand up for each other?! And yes I know the Bystander effect.

I imagine some of you are saying, stop getting so worked up… its a TV programme and one social experiment (although they did run it 3x to the same effect). Maybe I should remember the benefits of moving to Manchester but its hard to be happy and defend the great city of Manchester in the face of such a obviously bad thing, even if staged for TV…

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.