Stories of Men

Living with Racial Prejudice and Police Brutality

Living with Racial Prejudice with Mark Esho

Yet Graham’s battles with racism are not confined to childhood. Last September he suffered racism in Scotland. Graham was on a train. It was a weekday afternoon during half-term and a group of teenage girls poured into an almost empty carriage. 

Living with Racial Prejudice with Mark Esho

This week’s episode of Our Voices focuses on the challenges of dealing with racial prejudice and facing police misconduct. We introduce you to Mark Esho, a truly inspirational individual, serial entrepreneur and social activist. He talks about how he has found a way to remain positive amidst the discrimination he has faced as a black man with a disability.

Beating the odds

Mark was born to Nigerian parents in Leicester in the 1960s. However, from the age of 6-months old, he grew up with a foster family. He describes the family as being “very protective” and he remembers his early years as being relatively happy. But he had to face his first great challenge at the tender age of 5. 

He contracted polio, which left him disabled from the neck down. He was given a 10% chance of survival. Mark went on to beat the odds and not only survived, but he also managed to regain partial mobility. He is now able to mobilise with the help of a wheelchair.

A charming upbringing

Talking about life in the small village where he grew up, Mark says that he did not experience any racial prejudice there as everyone in the village knew each other.

 “So any time that I’d actually suffered any sort of racism that I can remember was from people outside of the village”.

 When Mark suffered such abuse, he had his older foster brother to protect him.

Returning to the UK

Mark left the UK to go to Nigeria at the age of 9, but he returned to Leicester to study aged 18. He found that disabled access was severely lacking at his institution. Despite this, he was able to get his A-Levels and he also completed an MBA. It was upon moving to London in the 1980s that Mark experienced racial prejudice.

 “You often felt like a second class citizen. And you’d try to avoid places where [it] was all white.” Mark describes the feeling of not being wanted by the wider community. This often took the form of active police misconduct. He talks about “constantly being stopped by the police for whatever reason. And the only crime was driving while black”.

Facing police misconduct

After experiencing police misconduct so often, Mark stopped reacting against it. “This is something that happens, on a regular basis, so you just tend to brush it off”. As much as it may seem as if Mark was giving in, essentially he was finding a way to maintain his dignity and sanity in the face of injustice.

 “ If you let it affect you, it then impacts on everything else around you, it just makes you angry, makes you sad… I’ve learned over the years just to let certain things go because, otherwise, it can be damaging to your mental health”.

Racial prejudice next door

Yet, sometimes, the discrimination was so threatening that Mark was not able to distance himself from it. At the age of 20, he relocated to Barnet and was provided with social housing. One of his new neighbours was the very opposite of welcoming.

 “[He] said to me that the likes of you are not wanted here. And I’m going to be keeping an eye on you”. The man was white and 6 foot 3, significantly taller than Mark. It also turned out that he was a part-time police officer. Two weeks later, the man repeated his threat. This time he had a shotgun on his shoulder. Despite the intimidation, Mark tried to ignore the man.

Institutional victimisation

Two months after this, there was a knock on the door. It was the police who had come prepared with a search warrant due to reports of Mark dealing drugs. After the police’s inevitably unsuccessful search, Mark made his way to the police station to find out who had made the report.  He naturally suspected that his threatening neighbour had had something to do with it. The police stated that they could not provide this information.

Mark then attempted to lodge a complaint, which the police refused to process. Once again, Mark found himself in a position in which there was nothing he could do to combat the intimidation and victimisation he was experiencing. This was compounded by the police misconduct, clearly, they were favouring one of their own over an innocent sufferer of racial prejudice. “Even today, [that] really annoys me and saddens me”.

A threatening encounter

Another example of this type of behaviour occurred in a pub in Edgware. Mark was meeting up for a drink with an old school friend from Nigeria called Doyin. He describes going to the bar and ordering drinks and noticing three white guys staring at him aggressively. They tried to ignore the men and to focus on drinking their drinks. But they could feel the men’s eyes on them: “It was a very hostile environment”. 

Mark and Doyin attempted to drink their drinks faster so that they could leave the pub but they would only have time to take a couple of sips before being roughly grabbed by their collars. 

One of the men said “are you guys ok? We said yeah, we’re okay thanks. No, he said, really? Are you really okay? Yeah yeah, we’re fine. And he said, No, I don’t think you heard me. Are you really, really ok? I think you need to go now. And I think that’s when we got the message. Mark and his friend would leave the pub without finishing their drinks.

Reflecting on the experience, Mark talks about how frustrating he had found it that no one had come to their aid. The pub landlord had seen the way Mark and Doyin had been treated and he’d simply walked away. None of the other people in the pub had intervened either. 

Learning to live with prejudice

One could forgive Mark for feeling bitter and resentful as a result of the racial prejudice he’d experienced but, surprisingly, his reaction was to laugh.

“We just thought he was so funny… we joked to people that we inadvertently walked into a National Front meeting”. Explaining his reaction, Mark says “It just helped us release the tension and remove the pain of the experience”. 

Again, Mark was able to show how adept he is at maintaining his sanity when experiencing threatening, racist behaviour just as he’d had to learn how to deal with facing institutional racism previously.

Yet the impact of such events does live on. Mark talks about how is now constantly wary about going to new pubs, especially those in all-white areas. His reservations are echoed by many racial minorities, who still often feel on-edge and unsafe in particular environments due to the racial prejudice they’re experienced.

Campaigning for a better future

Mark’s story provides an example of how much effort a person of colour often has to go to maintain a sense of dignity and grace in a world that can often be threatening and insecure. Instances of police misconduct and a sense that the system is working against you only makes things worse. 

Mark is campaigning to make the world a safer place for both black and disabled people so that life doesn’t have to be as hard for future generations. To learn more about Mark’s incredible story and charity work, read his book “I Can, I Will”.

Living with Racial Prejudice with Mark Esho

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Laura is the mix engineer for the Stories of Men podcast. She has a BA in Music from Nottingham University and an Advanced Diploma in Music Production and Sound Engineering from Abbey Road Institute. Alongside working for Our Voices she is a freelance sound designer and technician. Her highlights include sound design for JK Rowling audiobook ‘The Christmas Pig’, and sound effects editing on The Outlaws, on the BBC.

For the Stories of Men podcast, Laura is typically provided with a Voice Over and interview. She then cleans the dialogue, integrates the podcast intro and outros, chooses the music that will add to the storytelling and pacing of the episode, then bring all the elements together in the mix, followed by mastering and then delivering the final edit.

Experience in Industry: 3


Favourite Food: Potatoes

Favourite Sport: Wild swimming

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Favourite Movie: Anything Marvel

Favourite City: London

Hobby: Music

Favourite Book: Northern Lights


I’m the community manager at Stories of Men. I spend most of my time focusing on the implementation of our marketing strategy, achieving goals and KPIs, and the rest of the time listening to the amazing stories of our guests. What I love most about working for Stories of men is the impact it has on peoples’ lives. It requires a lot of courage to tell your story out loud so I make sure these stories are heard by as many people as possible.

I was born and raised in Pakistan and I’ve been living in Hungary for over two years now. I have a Master’s degree in Marketing and I live for mastering the art of digital marketing.

Industry experience: 3 Years


Favourite Food: Biryani – introduced by the Mughal rulers in the Indian subcontinent; this dish is an absolute delight. Also, can never say no to a good burger – extra cheese!

Favourite Sport: Cricket – I grew up playing and watching cricket with friends and family.

Favourite Show: Stranger Things – I love how an odd group of friends fight against challenges bigger than themselves.

Favourite Movie: Harry Potter – The only movie I can watch over and over again!

Favourite City: Prague – Absolutely love the Baroque and Gothic vibe of this city.

Hobby: Netflix, Travelling, and Eating- I want to try different cuisines from every country once in my lifetime!

Favourite Book: The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown – A fast-paced thriller that keeps you hooked from the first page to the last.


I run Fascinate Productions, the production company behind the Stories of Men podcast. I’ve had a wide variety of roles in media, from underwater videography, to live televised sporting events around the world. But since listening to my first audiobook in 2016, I’ve been all about audio and jumped in with two feet. Podcasts are enabling the world to democratise its most valuable information. They’re about spreading messages, and sharing ideas, and it’s my mission to help those holding the knowledge, to distribute it far and wide.

When Alex approached us with the idea of making a short stories podcast, with a big social impact, he got our attention. As the producer of the show, I’ve heard his guests’ highest highs, their lowest lows, and the moments of change that made them who they are – it’s been a privilege helping to craft their most intimate experiences into stories for you to enjoy.

 Experience in Industry: 5 years


Favourite Food: Ice cream. It’s just the greatest culinary invention.

Favourite Sport: Rugby. I played from the age of 5 until 26 when a dislocated shoulder put me out of action. Still like to watch now though.

Favourite Show: The 100 – I love those ‘what if humans nearly got wiped out?’ type shows.

Favourite Movie: Gladiator

Favourite City: London. As a country boy from Yorkshire, I never thought I’d enjoy living here.

Hobby: Listening to podcasts while on long walks with my dog Alfie.

Favourite Book: I love to read anything business/startup related… One of the most recent great ones was Good Strategy/Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt



Richard Willan is the CEO of Fascinate productions, a podcast production and promotion company. Before starting Fascinate, he worked an audio engineer, mastering tracks for artists on major and independent labels.

He is an executive producer for ‘Stories of Men’ where he assists with production, creative direction of the show, and marketing strategy.  





Favourite Food: I love Indian food – My favourite dish is a Dansak. It’s a rich combination of hot, sweet and sour flavours, made from lamb and lentils.

Favourite Sport: I enjoy watching combat sports like MMA – Isreal Adesanya is my favourite fighter at the moment, due to his Tae Kwon Do base and speed. 

Favourite Show: Succession – an American satirical drama. The character development is incredible, and the writing is top notch. 

Favourite Movie: True Lies. I find it amazing that someone who can’t act (Arni) has so many great films.

Favourite City: London, because it is a melting pot of culture and the music scene is amazing. 

Hobby: Making music, going to gym and eating out. 

Favourite Book:  The Secret History by Donna Tartt. I love the world she created, and the incremental path the characters take into darkness. It’s amazing.


I am responsible for writing blog articles for the Stories of Men podcast. I have the privilege of listening to fascinating stories on the topics and issues regarding men that are of greatest relevance to our society today. Once I’ve done this, I create articles that provide an overview and description of the conversations in order to help spread them to the widest possible audience. My job is to make these articles as engaging as the conversations themselves.

As an English teacher who has worked with students from all over the world for over 10 years, I have got used to successfully communicating with those from different backgrounds and cultures. This has helped me to appreciate the value of connection across borders and boundaries. It has also helped me to appreciate that we are all able to learn from each other’s experiences.



Favourite Food: Chocolate. It’s an indulgence, I know, but it tastes so good. I particularly enjoy dark chocolate for its richness and smoothness. 

Favourite Sport: Football.Unfortunately, my local team (Nottingham Forest) is not in that top league but I hope that one day it will be.

Favourite Show: The Wire. 

Favourite Movie: The Godfather. 

Favourite City: Reykjavik. I had the pleasure of spending two weeks there a number of years ago and I loved the place for its beauty, culture and calmness. It’s rare that you can be in a capital city and experience genuine space and peace and quiet. There’s also a black sand beach to walk along, although, due to the cold, I wouldn’t recommend bathing in the sea!

Hobby: Watching films. I love films, foreign films, classic films, contemporary films, just all good films.

Favourite Book: “Into the Wild” by Jon Krakauer. 

I’m the Editor of Stories of men. I craft compelling narratives from the stories of our fantastic guests, editing their interviews and scripting the episodes. I’m a freelance journalist and audio producer from Northern Ireland, currently based in California. I cover social issues, health and gender – with reporting in The Guardian, Vice, NPR, Cosmopolitan and many others. My focus is shining a light on the communities and initiatives that improve people’s lives. I have a background in the nonprofit space, having worked in communications for a mental health charity, as well as an education start-up. I mentor young female writers and sit on the board of an NGO that empowers women in global supply chains. 

Favourite Food:  In a word, sandwiches. The possibilities are endless.

Favourite Sport: Show jumping. When I was little I wanted to be a professional horse-rider, and I still get a kick out of watching the pros in action.

Favourite Show: Fleabag: the writing and acting create a thrilling kind of intimacy I haven’t seen anywhere else.

Favourite Movie: Victoria is an incredible German thriller that’s all shot in one take – it’s a real trip. Plus it’s beautifully soundtracked by Nils Frahm.

Favourite City: Very hard to choose, but it’s got to be Barcelona. The food, the pace of life, the winding streets – there’s nowhere else like it. 

Hobby: exploring city streets on my bike – preferably while listening (safely!) to a podcast – is when I’m at my happiest. 

Favourite Book: Bernadine Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other is a stunning, utterly unique portrait of womanhood, race, ageing and the principles we choose to live 

I am the host of Stories of Men. I help to find men that have a powerful voice to share and then I speak to them and help to tease the stories out of them that will have a positive impact on the listener. 

While running Swoosh English, an online English school from 2013 – 2021, I had the opportunity to meet men from all walks of life and many of these guys had incredible stories. This inspired me to start ‘Stories of Men’ because I wanted to give these men a platform to share their stories with the world.

I love the detail that people go into and how people craft stories in different ways. My dream and vision for the future would be countless people messaging to tell us how a particular episode has changed their lives!


Favourite Food: Avocados – an incredibly delicious fruit that can be used in so many dishes. My favourite is guacamole with nachos!

Favourite Sport: Boxing and football (couldn’t choose one!)

Favourite Show: 2 comedy series: Alan Partridge and The Office (UK version). I just love English humour!

Favourite Movie: Shawshank Redemption: An unbelievable journey full of twists and turns.

Favourite City:  New York – Living there for a year in 2008 changed my life. It made me believe that anything in life was possible if you want something badly enough.

Hobby: Football, boxing, reading, learning Spanish, travelling and watching fascinating conversations on Youtube.

Favourite Book: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts – a book about an incredible journey.