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.
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.”
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.