How Passport Privilege Can Contribute to Our Own Racial Dissonance

January 7, 2019

Natalie Alleyne

My family and I recently moved 140 miles out of London, a commutes distance from the next largest city - a commutes distance from multiculturalism. Minus the odd white person likening my children to cute commodities, or the enthusiastic demands for our individual ethnic breakdowns, things have been great. It had all been a day in a life until my partner was sent home from his first day at work. ‘We cannot have you on the premises,’ they said, ‘you have to leave.’

As is normal when starting a new job, HR asked my partner for identification. He presented his EU national identity card but he was still asked to leave and could only return if he provided his birth certificate.  Around 500 million European citizens have a national identity card, and it can be used for much more than buying beers. European citizens can leave their passports at home and travel all 28 EU countries with just their identity cards. The cards are valid identification for anything that a Brit would normally use their passport for; opening bank / credit accounts, obtaining tenancies and working anywhere in the EEA.

Many people of colour know the skin prickling feeling of subtle white distrust. We recognise the feeling of being expected to ‘double prove’ our credibility. In this case, what additional assurance would a birth certificate provide? None. The glaring truth is, if Marcel were not black, he would not have been treated in this manner. (Despite having a black Angolan mother and a white German father, Marcel identifies as black. He understands that the lesser extent of his privileges defines him as such. He has found that socio-economically, ‘mixed raced’ means nothing. Please keep this in mind as you read on)...

For full article AZ Magazine