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The #GeorgeFloydMurder is the latest in a long history of #racist atrocities visited on Black people & minorities in the US & elsewhere.

If u are in some position of authority, power, privilege & have a public platform you need to speak up and be counted. A v personal #thread
I am brown of Indian origin, but when asked, I always say I don't really know what #racism looks like, I have almost never experienced it, and I am in a position of power and privilege so I don't think its appropriate for me to speak about it. But today, I write about it here ...
I grew up in India, when to the @LSEnews & took a investment banking job at #Lehman. When I flew back to #India, I went to the UK embassy in Delhi to get my work visa. That was my first #racist encounter. He barked at me, said he could turn me down coz "too many of us in the UK"
Not the best welcome to the UK, right? But Lehman was pretty cosmopolitan and London too. But then I spent Christmas with my Danish girlfriends family in Copenhagen when her mother suddenly asked me "how do i know you don't beat my daughter with a belt? people from India do that"
Clearly, Vibeke and I did not last long after that. Those were my two exceptional experiences apart from the occasional "Fuck off #Paki", being "spat on randomly" and being "mugged by #racists" in London .. only about once a year so I just shrugged them off. What else can one do?
Then came the #LondonBombings ... I have averaged 3-4 flights a week for years & always traveled with a #Backpack & am always late so running to catch flights. But after the police shot dead the innocent #Menezes on July 22 in London in cold blood, I gave away all my backpacks
A lot of random police stops over the next few months, that for the first time made me appreciate what the Afro-Carribean Brits had long complained about & why Stop and Search in the US was endemically #racist. Being singled out, or the mere threat is like getting gut-punched.
Suffice to say, though I had become a British citizen by then & London was home, life as Brown man became distinctly more uncomfortable. #Norway's government asked me to become a strategy adviser in 2007 and I jumped and moved to #Oslo. Little did I know what was in store for me
The first challenge was renting an apartment. This proved to be impossible, as a brown man in Oslo. I had money, I was a strategy adviser to the government, I had a British passport ... but I was brown. Sad to say, a blonde Norwegian friend of mine and I pretended to be a couple
Without Berit's help, I would not have been able to get an apartment, not in the posh cool neighbourhoods I wanted to live in. I was living between London and Oslo and commuted so was constantly flying into Gardemoen airport in Oslo, 50 times or so between Aug 07-Mar 08 I think
Now I had flown A LOT, but I had never been stopped by customs anywhere until then. But in #Oslo, I was stopped more than 30 times ... No matter what I did, dressed in suits or jeans, shaved or not, looked them in the eye or away, I was almost always pulled out of the queue
I have never felt so bad in my life. I can't even emotionally begin to imagine what #Palestinians now, #Jews & #Roma throughout European history, #Blacks in the US and now also #Muslims must go through day after day of facing naked discrimination. I lost sleep, I lost my appetite
The nights before I was to fly home to #Oslo were especially horrible as were the flights ... the horrible anticipation, the tightening in the pit of my stomach, the inability to think about anything else than the fact that #racism was about to be visited on me & powerlessness
Lecturing to Norwegian diplomats I asked how many of them had NEVER been stopped by customs and 98% put up their hands. For the economist & statistician in me, that was the last straw. One day my first meeting was cancelled so when I was predictably stopped by #Norway's #Toll ...
I called the Police, kicked up a fuss and went to see the head of Customs who told me they DID NOT PROFILE, stopped people on "gut and intelligence" & did not keep records on who they stopped. I gave them an ultimatum to do an independent audit & to start keeping records OR ...
They did not get back to me so I wrote an Op-Ed in @Aftenposten, Norway's biggest newspaper. To their credit they also interviewed me and wrote an editorial about institutional racism in Norway. I was on national TV ... I was apologised to. I was asked to take an anti-racism role
I got free taxi rides from Pakistani & Somali Drivers & got a standing ovation in a pub. But I turned down the role. Despite my experiences, truth is I don't really know what it feels like to be at the receiving end of #racism. On a scale of #racism of 1-100 mine was only about 1
Two thoughts. If "they" could do this to someone as powerful & privileged as me, imagine what Somali Asylum seekers in Europe or Palestinians in Israel or Poor Black men in America have to go through on a daily basis? I could not even begin to claim to represent their experiences
Second, I was in #Norway for my economic and financial expertise setting up the "international illicit finance task force" and "reforming the #OilFund" and did not want to be stereotyped as the "ethnic minority working on race issues" especially as I knew so little about them
Which brings us to #Berlin The next few years I lived between #Berlin, #London & #Brussels and found myself in the uncomfortable position of being threatened by skinheads in Berlin when I challenged them to stop their dog shitting on the pavement. I was genuinely scared 4 my life
For the first time.. and if you have never been in that position, the only thing I can say is I hope you never are. Always looking over your shoulder, avoiding streets, trying to watch you back & starting to carry #nanchakus to be able to defend yourself in the event of an attack
For the first time, I got a teeny tiny bit of insight into what it must be like to confront the police as a young black man in the US. Imagine how insidious it must be for your emotional buildup, world map and well being to be brought up in such an oppressive environment? I can't
#Brexit campaign: As some of you may know, countless #eurocrisis related appearances in the media meant that I had a modest media profile in the UK. I am also passionately pro-European and an undying believer that the #EU is history's most successful Peace & Prosperity project.
Predictably I was asked to be involved in the In campaign & was a very vocal & vociferous public supporter of the #UK's continuing membership of the #EU. I was asked by (unnamed) 2 b a vocal media voice, but told my (unnamed) that "someone like me making pro EU case may backfire"
At the time, this coded reference to my brown colour infuriated me, but as the #Brexit discussion turned darker with more overt #racist undertones I realised that they may have been right in thinking that a Brown man, no matter how articulate, making a pro EU case may backfire
It made me immensely sad that my country, the #UK, was in fact, far less tolerant & far more #racist, than I had ever thought. Countless trips to the further reaches of the UK outside of London where I had felt "prying eyes" & "subtle & overt racism" should have provided fair
warning, but I guess it was happier to just ignore them and pretend all was hunky dory, which it was in my "cosmopolitan London bubble". Then my dear friend #JoCox was assassinated and I was in shock. I got "death threats" & "racist rants" on #twitter & through my door in London
I was "advised" that these could be credible so I should get out of the #UK 4 a few days around the #EUref to let things cool. I felt unsafe in my own country, my own home, voted early & went into a little self-imposed exile 2 France & wept as I saw the charlatans & racists win
We've all read about how #xenophobia & #racist incidents rose in the aftermath of #Brexit but I experienced them. The odd occasional oddball saying something racist in my direction, became more mainstream, less occasional and was no longer restricted to the oddballs & misfits
I now have a Swedish girlfriend and am a recent father and we have been living between Oslo, London and Berlin. But it's only in London that strange people have very aggressively knocked at our door, climbed up the stairs & made us feel threatened for the safely of our children
Being made to feel unsafe in your own person is one thing, but parents will know that fearing for the safety of your children is a thousand times worse. Now imagine the plight of #Syrian & other #refugees who flee fearing for the lives of their children. Remember #AryanKurdi ?
That was the last straw & my GF & I decided to leave #BoJo's #Brexit Britain, my country that I no longer recognise. The question was, what is the "ideal" "safe" place with the right values that we want to bring our kids up in? Depressingly, that question has NO good answer ...
The US is out of the question. I was not too keen on encountering #neonazis in Germany again either nor the rising #AfD. The once liberal #Denmark has drifted far to the right. Italy, France, the Netherlands also have powerful rising #xenophobic forces. Even Spain is not immune
To the question, where in the world will my "Anglo-Indian-Swedish-Norwegian" children grow up never having to experience even the mildest form of #racism that I have encountered, the very sad answer is NOWHERE. To repeat, my experience has been 1 on a scale of 1-100 but it scars!
For perspective, my privilege & luck far outweigh any negative experiences I have encountered on account of being brown. I am in the luckiest, most privileged 0.01% of human beings to have ever walked the planet. Most people of whatever colour have it way way worse than I have it
I understand that and I have spent the past two decades working against #inequality, for #development, to #tackleclimatechange in addition to my work on #investment, the #eurocrisis, #brexit and the rest of it. I can work on those as an #economist but #racism is deeply personal
And I will never now what it is to have been black in South Africa or the US, Jewish in pre-war #Germany or #Roma in large parts of Europe today. That is why I don't feel that my very mild experience of #racism qualifies me to speak about that. But enough is enough ...
As little us who have #whiteprivilege or have power & authority may know about #racism, to stay silent when America is Burning, #Roma are being targeted again, and dark #xenophobic forces are on the rise in the #EU again, is to be complicit. SPEAK UP AND BE COUNTED #FightRacism
It’s deeply humiliating to admit being scared in a war zone, not having fought off a rapist who had a knife, letting yourself subject to racist humiliations. It makes such traumatic experiences very hard 2 talk about. They leave deep scars. But without speaking up, they continue
As folks here would clearly understand without saying, this has been just a tiny sample of the #racist humiliations that even someone in my position of power and influence has gone through. I have shared it to show how widespread the problem is & to spur others into action
I have said nothing here about professional opportunities being denied, about being separated from my family by the police in #Cyprus & the countless other humiliations that you just learn to ignore or will never even know about cause your cv wasn’t considered being “foreign”
I have shared #MyStoryOfDiscrimination in the hope others who have been at the receiving end #racism #sexim #ageism & other discrimination will share theirs and those who are against this will join forces in fighting the barbaric practices that have no place in the 21st century
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