I went to bed fuming last night. A ‘before lights out’ Instagram check saw me faced with the backlash of the Sainsbury’s Christmas advert. Backlash from white people because it featured a black family.

Not a black family talking about black lives matter or the years of inequality and oppression they’ve faced.

Nope – it was a family who happened to be black, who were simply ‘being a family’ talking about Christmas and gravy! If you’ve not seen the advert, you can see it here.

This got the racist trolls up in arms:

  • I can’t relate to the family
  • The UK is 86% white…why then…
  • I’m boycotting Sainsbury’s
  • Where are the ‘British’ people?
  • Absolutely sickening!

Sickening? Are you fucking kidding me?!

For every troll that has the nerve to speak up, there will be thousands more agreeing with what has been said. At one point the YouTube video of the ad had 80% of viewers like it and 20% of the viewers dislike it. 20%! (On last look it’s 12.5%). So, for all those that say it’s just a small amount of people that act this way – let’s not be fooled. Not only have Sainsbury’s had to speak out to defend their advert, comments have now been turned off the video!

It is quite telling how an extremely short advert has managed to upset so many white people. What are they scared of? What is it about seeing a black person in a prominent position that makes them feel uncomfortable? What do they think is going to happen if more black people are shown in the public eye? Are they feeling that the tables will be turned and the privileges they have enjoyed will soon be no more? I can’t speak for anyone but myself but all I want is to smash the systemic racism that runs through this country, have equal opportunities on a level playing field, whilst not getting abused.

Let me repeat, a simple advert with a family who happen to be black, has caused unrest! Some people may just see it as a few angry people spouting on social media. I see pitchforks and burning torches. Can you imagine if we did have a black person head up No.10? We pretend America is backwards and ‘we’re not like that’ – I call bullshit! Let’s not forget the hoards of men that came out in force to protect statues!

Most of the time I’m like teflon when it comes to racism. It’s not new, it’s still here and it’s not our imagination. Can we stop being shocked about it now please? But last night, the racists found a chink in my armour which left me seething and hurt and upset and disappointed and confused and all manner of things.

That’s because I have taken a detour in my career and instead of leaving the organisation, I ended up interviewing for a completely new position. Which I got! Usually, when I have something to celebrate, oh boy do I shout it from the roof tops. This time I told only a few friends and I couldn’t place why until last night. It was fear!

My job is working on an Anti-Racism and Inclusion programme for my organisation.

The word racism clings to me as I know how many people feel uncomfortable when they see that word. Probably more uncomfortable than seeing a black family on TV – just! I’m also aware that because many people do not see racism as a problem in the country let alone the workplace, they don’t see the point of specific roles to fix it.

It hit home last night what a huge task I had taken on, with questions stomping through my mind:

  • How can I change hearts, minds and behaviours when this is the state of the UK right now, losing their shit over a family friendly Christmas advert?
  • How can I leave my work at work when what I’m dealing with affects me inside and outside of the office?

The weight of hatred has become so much that something has got to give. Which is why it’s time I shed this polite patient skin that I have learnt to walk around in all of my life. It is going to be hard because….


Not a full blown ‘I’m going to lie about who I am and what I like, to make you like me’ people pleaser. I don’t lie…. I just often don’t tell my burning truth.

There’s a fear that what I say may upset the other person or make them feel uncomfortable. Plus, I absolutely hate conflict, so much so that I can’t get across my opinion without tripping over my words, missing key points and blundering like a politician about to give the latest update on Covid.

Also, there’s that nagging trait of dining out on outside validation and caring what other people think if I put my head too far above the parapet. Which leads me to be out there in a controlled manner, helping people digest the information by cutting it up really small and drip feeding them. When really if someone chokes on my words – it’s not my fucking problem.

It only clicked today that I most likely got my people pleasing from systemic racism and the patriarchal society that I have had to navigate. Building up a character that has a hardened shell, knows how to speak not to offend and lets the oppressor play the victim.

My auntie loves to regale in stories of how the sweet patient little Emma would get nudged and flick it off. And nudged and shake it off. And nudged and push it off. And nudged……nudged….nudged….until I finally ERUPTED!

Well…welcome to the eruption, you’ve got front row seats.

As I go into my accidental journey of activism in the anti-racism space, I need to lighten the load to help my mental health.

This time, I am done with placating with people who do not deserve my time or energy. 2020 has brought to the surface a lot of people who want to voice their opinions, shout the loudest and quite often they are adept at articulating their thoughts. *Which doesn’t help me…..see blundering idiot comment above.

I’ve mainly stayed away from the argument but I’ve allowed them to live rent free in my head because I’ve not removed them from my space. There is no reasoning with some people, my lived experience and that of millions of other black people doesn’t stop them from finding the few black people that share their opinions, that proclaim that it’s not that bad. Or keep quiet about what is going on until an animal gets hurt or a piece of property gets damaged. When I see this, I view this as, I am less than…

For that reason, I’m happy to live in an echo chamber so that my Facebook is not filled with people with abhorrent views (this extends to transphobia, homophobia, xenophobia etc.) Like many posts I’ve seen this year, I state ‘We can disagree on many things but racism is not one of them’. I will be deleting people who cause me anxiety and make my stomach churn, I am not allowing these topics to be up for a deep dive conversation.

I am so fortunate that I have got so many amazing and supportive friends, I don’t need to keep polite and not rock the boat with people who harbour certain views. Fuck sharing all the joy and goodness I bring to the world (yeah, I’m trumpet blowing) to these people. I don’t care if I’ve known someone for years and we shared good times, sometimes a beautiful journey leads to a dead end.

I see myself as an optimistic realist and know that the racism that is ingrained in society is here for generations to come. How can it not be, when you have people who have these backward views raising children who listen to them. Learnt behaviour is powerful, which is another reason why I have to step up my character. I want the children I hope to have some day look up and see a role model and feel strong enough to be who they are and say how they feel, regardless of the room they are in.

I also hope that they will be able to watch an advert that features someone that looks like them and they don’t have to take to the internet to defend it.

Emma x

P.S. And as quick as the eruption comes, it subsides leaving a little residue, something to remember. I am back dancing around my room, sending my friends silly voice notes and laughing at memes. Because, we have to go on.