If you’ve been reading the posts thus far, you’ll have noticed that when I write about what I see in a pub, I make note of people’s ages and genders (at least, my best guess without actually asking them). I do so because it’s interesting, it’s useful data. They affect how I feel about a place, in the same way that the choice of lighting and music and beer would too.
But there’s another thing which I find interesting, for much the same reason, but which I haven’t yet mentioned. Because … well, there are Rules.
Race; skin colour.
Bedford is quite a diverse area: the 2011 Census showed that 17% of Bedford’s age 20-79 population were non-white. Which of course means that white, at 83%, was still the vast majority (and I’m sure it’s much same in 2017).
But have we been seeing that same mix in the pubs we’ve been visiting? Have we heck. I haven’t been keeping exact count of all the white folk we’ve been seeing (maybe 300 so far?), but there have so few non-white faces in our twenty-plus pub visits so far that I can pretty much remember each one. Fewer than 10, I think. So far at least, non-white folk are therefore under-represented in pubs, compared to the population in the town as a whole.
I did think about mentioning race/colour in the individual pub blog posts, alongside age and gender. But there are two obvious problems with that: (a) there are so few non-white folk, it would feel uncomfortably close to providing identifying information, which of course I want to avoid; and (b) what would I say when people are white? I don’t want to just omit it and assume “white by default” (ugh), and it would get repetitive to say “white” every time – but maybe that’s the point.
I really wish that it wasn’t relevant: but I believe it is. I’d love it to be as uninteresting and uncontroversial as writing about what type of shoes people are wearing: but it’s not. I at least wanted to say that I’m aware of the problem, and it’s an uncomfortable thing for me to write about. But by writing about it, by pointing out the problem – and I believe that it is a problem – it might be just one tiny step in the right direction.