April 03 2019

My experience of racism gave me an affinity with Jewish students on campus, says Tory mayoral candidate

Reading about the recent harassment of Jewish students on London campuses is a sad and harsh reminder that all of the gains we make as a society can be reversed. Without vigilance we risk backsliding.

For modern campuses to become a setting for intimidation is to get their purpose exactly wrong; we come to these campuses to have our views challenged, not protected. My time on campus certainly challenged a lot of the beliefs I acquired growing up in a poor and struggling community; going to school rounded out my worldview.

I grew up steeped in the stories of my grandfather and the Windrush Generation that brought him to Britain. He was a hero for fighting for King and country during the war, but as a citizen in his new land he was confronted with signs that said "no dogs, no blacks, no Irish". My family faced its blackness most days growing up.

By the time I was a young man in the West London of the 1980s and 90s there was still more than enough racism and harassment to go around. From being called a "n*gger" to being stopped by police because I "fit the description", I had to cope with abuse if I was going to get on with my day. I was even called a "token ghetto boy" by a Labour MP after I got involved in politics.

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