Accent Discrimination

Ey up ducks. Thought I’d write abaat summat close to mi ‘art today. I sometimes have’ta watch mi’sen when am blabberin, cos me accent’s dead common, like. Whether it’s yorn or theirn or me’own, we all av one. But does it mek a difference, or amma just bein a mardy arse? Alrate?

I’ve always done well academically. I was the first person in my family to go to university, and I graduated with flying colours. I have always done what was asked of me in the education system, and I was always told, “If you do well in this test and that test, and keep working hard, you’ll end up with a good job.” It was a constant promise.

Promise broken.

My qualifications are just pieces of paper to me now, and all the thugs I went to school with, who didn’t work hard, are in a better position than me because they started work sooner, dropping out of school at 16.

But since leaving university, I’ve had opportunities to get high-powered, well-paid jobs. For example, I was shortlisted to work as an Intelligence Officer for MI5 (ssshhhhhh, don’t tell anyone!). There are a few other interviews I’ve been invited to down south, based on my written application forms and online examinations. However, when I get there I’m usually surrounded by people speaking the Queen’s English, the same as the interviewer, and I feel out of place.

Maybe that’s my problem (although I didn’t get any of those good jobs, and I’m still stuck doing boring, repetitive work for the minimum wage, despite have more about me than 99% of rich bankers).

ITV did a programme about accent discrimination. Here is a quote from the reporter on that programme, from the ITV website:

“The most upsetting moment for me making this film was when some Middlesbrough children confessed to me that they were ashamed of their accents.

Shockingly, they told me they believed their accents would affect their life chances – for the worse.

“We sound right scruffy like,” said young one boy in his football kit. “Not like you: posh. We won’t be able to get proper jobs,” he told me.

Unfortunately – as our Tonight programme shows – he may be right.”

Source: http://www.itv.com/news/2013-09-25/28-of-britons-feel-discriminated-against-due-to-accent/

Maybe accent discrimination is just a small part of the bigger “Class Discrimination” issue this country has. After all, you can’t tell what class someone is through visuals. A black man could be from an upper class background (not statistically likely, but possible), as could a woman who gets a job interview. Denying the black man a job based on this alone would be racist. Denying the woman, sexist. But it wouldn’t be discriminatory based on class. When a person’s mouth opens, that’s the big giveaway. No one would mistake me for being upper-class.

The upper class hold all the positions of real power in the country, and they have been brought up amongst other upper class people, and their minds have been conditioned to believe that only the upper class can handle roles of importance. If it is acknowledged that there is a wealth of skill and knowledge in the lower classes, their livelihoods could be threatened.

Another quote from the above source:

“Our research not only shows that more than a quarter of Britons (28%) feel they have been discriminated against because of their regional accent but also, according to another batch of research by the law firm Peninsular, that 80% of employers admit to making discriminating decisions based on regional accents.”

Unfortunately there is no law against accent discrimination, and even if there was, it would be difficult to enforce. I just see this accent issue as part of a much bigger class gap issue, which is a mammoth obstacle to overcome in our society. The fact remains, for the majority of people, who you are and where you come from condemns you.

READ THIS RELATED ITV ARTICLE

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3 thoughts on “Accent Discrimination

  1. It is an interesting issue.

    I come from a pretty standard background grew up in Surrey. When I started university about 80% of people in my halls were privately educated (I wasn’t) and one of the first questions I was asked by loads of people was ‘where did you go to school’? This confused me – I just wondered why on earth someone from a different county would know my school! I was already what would be considered quite ‘well spoken’ (Home Counties accent) but reckon I ‘poshed’ up my voice subconsciously to fit my surroundings as I do now sound probably what would be considered as ‘better’ spoken than a lot of people I know.

    I do think my accent has benefited me professionaly when working down south but when I lived in the Midlands for a few years, I felt it was held against me a bit with people assuming I was posh or stuck up – it stood me out from others and made me feel like I didn’t fit in.

    I wonder if accents are less of an issue in London (and possibly other cities) where there tends to be more of a mix of people. I know people with all sorts of accents in all types of jobs here but wonder if I moved outside London of social mobility in the work place would be more difficult.

    There’s also been other circumstancess where it has worked against me. For example, I’m quite shy and a bit socially awkward so I’m not good at small talk. I tend to stay quiet and not talk too much which is fine on its own but coupled with people hearing my accent when I do talk people think I’m ‘posh’ or a ‘snob’. Also when I meet new people socially I am sometimes told ‘you are so posh’ (it drives me mad as I’m really not and I hate that assumption- it’s purely based on my voice) or if I say something about the problem with the housing market and getting on the property ladder, they presume I don’t know what I’m talking about as I must have loads of money and sometimes even get a little aggressive about it.

    One thing I do think is that I may have subconsiously ‘poshed up’ my accent, but I will never be able to create the unshakeable outward show of confidence and certainty that private education seems to give a lot of people. I think that can take people so far, even if an accent isn’t there and I wish it could be bottled and taught in the state sector.

    I’m rambling on a bit. It’s definitely an interesting topic.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I find it very insulting that someone uses my accent as a marker of intelligence and friendliness. Everyone in life has a very picky approach to choosing their social circle, cultural being and standing in life. I’m glad to say that I don’t care for peer pressure. People in politics, business and other forms of high places talk of equality and discrimination. But I think that is just to serve their own commercial interests.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. ‘You’re not one of us’ is what they’ll be thinking when interviewing you.

    Class discrimination was to be included in the equality act 2010 but the Labour wankers bottled it and left it out. Probably realised it could be a threat to their own existence.

    Social mobility is dead and we’ve entered a new era of victorian values. Have a read of the novel the ragged trousered philanthropists, if you haven’t already, and you can draw the paralells between then and now.

    Liked by 1 person

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