Woman reveals her years of racist abuse growing up in Grangemouth

A woman has spoken out about how racism affected her growing up in Grangemouth and how it continues to cast a shadow over her life.

Monday, 21st March 2022, 12:32 pm
Updated Monday, 21st March 2022, 1:00 pm

Char Jones recalled vile name calling and even had her nose broken because of the colour of her skin.

Now a PA with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, she opened up about her experiences to mark today’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

However, four decades after her frightening experiences as a young child, Char insists that racism continues to exist in society and admits that she doesn’t go out alone at night because of the colour of her skin.

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Char Jones has spoken about racist abuse growing up in Grangemouth. Pictured with husband watch commander Neil Jones.

Char, 47, said: “I am proud to be Scottish and I am proud of my Indian heritage. I have a very positive outlook on life.

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“There is still racism in the world. It does exist – one hundred per cent. You can feel it; sense it in the pit of you belly that someone doesn’t like you because of the colour of your skin.

“People need educated. I am sorry to say that I honestly don’t know the answer.”

One of five children, Char grew up in a “very happy and very loving” home in Grangemouth with parents, Matt, a paramedic, and full-time mum, Audrey.

She said: “We didn’t realise we were the only multi-racial family at the time but we stood out like a sore thumb. We were all picked on for the colour of our skin. From the N-word to the ‘P***’ word to others like ‘darkie’. All those really, terrible, horrible names.

“One time a boy punched me in the face because of the colour of my skin. He broke my glasses and chipped a bone in my nose.

"Mum was angry and upset, and went to the school but I do not recall what happened to that boy. It would have aggravated it anyway so I just shelved it in my brain.”

She added: “He had called me ‘P***’. The thing is, I wasn’t Pakistani. My heritage is Indian and I am Scottish. It was clearly an ignorance with his parents because kids are not brought up to be racist.

“But I felt sorry for him as I had really good parents who dried my tears and told me that I was amazing and that I was beautiful so I am proud of who I am now.

As a teenager, Charmaine trained six nights a week with the Falkirk Victoria Harriers in long jump, sprinting and hurdles. She even trained with the Scotland squad as a reserve.

Her father was a coach and encouraged her into the sport aged eight. She said: “I just loved it and it was a comfortable environment.

“There was the odd time you would hear someone say, ‘you can beat the P***’. I would tell my dad and he would say, ‘you run … you run harder and you run faster - and you beat them’. And he would always tell me to shake their hand afterwards even if I won or lost.”

But Char says that the spectre of intolerance still looms large and she will cut socialising with friends to avoid late night public transport. “I feel vulnerable sometimes,” she admitted.

“If I have a night out in the city, then I ensure I get on the earlier train. It isn’t because I am a single female but the colour of my skin. I want to avoid that bracket of people who could cause hassle.”

Char, who is married to Watch Commander Neil, added: “All I can say is that I know how to look after myself. I have my husband and my brothers around me. I do have my moments of sadness but I get on with it. I have a good life - and all of this has just made me stronger.”

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