An Open Letter to Chris Bryant

Dear Chris Bryant

Yesterday was National Kiss a Ginger Day, a day that I wrote about last year and a day, quite frankly, that shouldn’t exist. Contrary to what you may think, my dislike for the day is not about the word ginger being used – it’s not a term I find offensive and it tends to only be seen as derogatory by people who don’t themselves have ginger hair. My dislike of the day runs much deeper.

However, I thought that this year the day would go unmarked. That people wouldn’t, this year, send me kisses on social media and instead it could just be swept under the carpet, losing impact as each year goes by. But no. The day after the supposed National Kiss a Ginger Day I wake up to the news that you, Mr Bryant, MP of Rhondda, had taken it upon yourself to wish John Bercow a Happy Kiss a Ginger Day in the House of Commons.

Now, why this made the news is beyond me – it was obviously a slow news day. But, it also showed that your actions weren’t normal for the House of Commons and definitely not normal for a politician. Your job is to be a spokesperson for your constituency, to bring everyone together and treat them fairly, to solve problems and build foundations for the future.

Your job is not to discriminate, not to treat people differently because of any aspects of their lives – be it religion, gender, race, sexuality or even hair colour. You are meant to be someone people can look up to, that people can trust and respect – someone that your constituents can rely on.

And yet you, Mr Bryant, have brought National Kiss a Ginger Day into the public eye. You have brought it into parliament and you have made it something. By wishing people a Happy Kiss a Ginger Day, and by joking about it in the House of Commons you have agreed with it, you have made it acceptable and you have, quite frankly, shown your true colours.

Why is it acceptable for ginger people to be singled out, ridiculed and made the butt of jokes yet again? It would never be acceptable to have a Happy Kiss a Muslim Day, a Happy Kiss a Lesbian Day or a Happy Kiss a Disabled Person Day. So why is it acceptable to have a Happy Kiss a Ginger Day?

Yet, because you yourself are ginger, you think it’s ok to have a Kiss a Ginger Day? Were you not ridiculed as a child like so many others with your same hair colour? If not, I am pleased you got through your childhood – twenty years before mine – unscathed and unaffected by the same bullying culture that has affected so many redheads for generations.

But, just because you yourself are ginger does not make you bringing National Kiss a Ginger Day into parliament okay. It does not make it right. Could you imagine Barack Obama addressing congress and wishing them all a Happy Kiss a Black Person Day? No, it just would not happen.

Why? Because there is no such day and even if there were Barack Obama has enough respect and pride to know that mentioning a day like that shows acceptance, it shows you agree with it and it shows that you are happy with all that it stands for. Any day aimed at someone because of the way they look, the way they live their life or any other personality trait is wrong – and those days should not exist.

So, My Bryant, telling me on Twitter that you are ‘ginger and queer’ does not solve anything. Instead it shows that you like labels, you like to pigeonhole yourself – and other people – and obviously if it’s ok with you it should be ok for everyone else.

Well, it isn’t.

Mr Bryant, you should be ashamed of yourself. I am hoping you had a temporary lapse of judgement and now understand why National Kiss a Ginger Day shouldn’t even be a thing – let alone a thing discussed in Parliament.

Right now I feel sorry for your constituents. If you were our local MP I would have even less faith in the UK government than I currently have. I am ginger and incredibly proud of my hair colour, my heritage and the fact I have passed this beautiful gene down to my daughter. But, if she grows up in a world where people like you are running the country I worry for her future.

So I will leave you with this Mr Bryant. You are in a position of authority and are a role model to so many. The next time you say anything in public – simply think before you speak. There is a time and a place and I’m sure the House of Commons will never be the time or the place for ginger jokes.

Best wishes

Donna Wishart

6 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Chris Bryant

  1. A fantastic open letter. I used to be called various ginger related names at school and it wasn’t nice to be singled out. I used to come home from school telling my mum I wanted to dye my hair black and be like my older sister who has naturally black hair. It used to upset her as I turned after her.
    Rachel Bustin recently posted…Book Review: Robin’s Winter SongMy Profile

  2. The problem with social media is that a comment which he probably didn’t think much of at the time can build into something where it seems more acceptable to teens to treat their classmates differently or ridicule them over the colour of their hair.

    I hate that children still get bullied and teased for having red hair – or for anything in all honesty. Within his first few weeks of secondary school a lovely redhead boy that I know was physically bullied by older boys over the colour of his hair.

    So for anyone who turns around and says to you that this was and is only a joke, ignore them lovely. A very important honest post.

    Stevie x
    A Cornish Mum recently posted…A Cornish Mum is Two TodayMy Profile

  3. I have family members and friends with red hair (there seem to be loads around my 4 year old daughter’s age). I don’t understand why it’s vilified so much. I’m a blonde, so I had to face all the dumb blonde jokes. As a highly intelligent and shy blonde woman, those stereotypes were difficult to deal with growing up. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to have day where people are essentially encouraged to violate you. Let’s be honest, that’s what national kiss a ginger day really is. Your bodily autonomy not mattering because of your hair color. It’s ridiculous and is something you and your daughter should not be subjected to. I’m sorry you’re still having to deal with behavior that should have been outdated ages ago.

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