Stories of Men

Our Voices on Racism in the UK with Graham Campbell

Racism In Scotland: A Glasgow Councillor’s Experience

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. 

In today’s episode of Our Voices, we hear about Graham Campbell’s battles with racism in Scotland and England. We’re forced to reflect on how much has really changed over recent decades and how to challenge racism in the 21st century.

Multiple identities

Graham is a veteran campaigner and activist, he is also Glasgow Council’s first-ever Afro-Caribbean councillor. He was born in London to a Jamaican father and a Granadian mother and he is a Rastafarian. He also has Scottish ancestry, which explains his love for Celtic Football Club.

A cosmopolitan upbringing

Unlike some of the other people interviewed for this series, Graham had the fortune of going to a multicultural school in which there were children from many different racial backgrounds. This meant that, although there were racist incidents that occurred, Graham mostly felt safe in this environment. 

He says that the teachers were anti-racist and liberal-minded and knew how to challenge racism, which no doubt would have created an environment of openness and inclusion.

Developing a strong sense of identity

Growing up in such an open environment helped Graham develop a confident sense of his own identity. Until this time, Graham never really saw the realities of racism in Scotland, especially in Glasgow.

 “I hung on to the idea that I have a right to express myself culturally. I’ve a right to be who I am and I have a right to not take nonsense when it’s unfair and unjust”. 

He also came from a background where standing up to discrimination was actively encouraged. “My dad told me how he had had to fight back. They protected themselves and Jamaicans got a big reputation for fighting back. And so I lived up to that”.

Learning how to challenge racism

One instance of Graham’s need to combat unfairness occurred when he was just 10 years old. It was 1977 and Graham was visiting a friend when a local woman screamed racist abuse at him. A week later, the same woman organised a street party to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee and she banned all non-white residents. As a result, Graham and his friend could not join in the celebrations. 

This experience stayed with Graham. Later that year, he was involved in a reading competition. The prize for the winner was a silver Jubilee coin. Despite being the best reader in his class, Graham refused to read. He remembered his exclusion from the Jubilee celebrations and he used his refusal to express his frustration at having to suffer racist abuse.

 “That was probably the first time I publicly showed my distress at experiencing racism”.

Racism in Scotland

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. 

They began talking loudly and soon Graham became the topic of conversation.

Oh, look, look at that guy! And they’re meaning me and they’re talking at me like I’m an inanimate object, and I can’t hear what they’re saying. And this gets to the point where they decide they’re going to take a photo of themselves with me”.

The way the girls were othering and treating Graham as if he were some sort of exhibition was clearly a form of mockery and discrimination. Needless to say, Graham knew how to challenge racism and had no particular desire to have his photo taken with the girls. However, the girls did not take his refusal well. 

“It was a really appalling barrage of racist abuse telling me to “fuck up”, saying who the fuck are you, it’s not even your country anyway blah blah blah, all of that stuff. N-words, curse words, B words…And it was just horrible”. 

It is horrific to see how quickly certain groups of people will revert to racist abuse. It shows how the old familiar attitudes and views often exist just below the surface. 21st-century racism in Scotland was not so different to the racism of the previous century.

Racism in Scotland and support by a white couple

Graham was naturally shocked at experiencing such verbal violence but he was determined to stand his ground. “I could have got up and walked away, I suppose. But I didn’t like the idea of doing that. The main reason was: I’m not going to run from racists”. 

However, he was also an elected official, so he had to be especially mindful of his public conduct. So he attempted to stay calm and polite and explained to the girls

“This is unacceptable behaviour, you cannot speak to people like that, especially not in a public place”. But the girls continued with their torrents of abuse. One of the girls even started filming their own racist hate crime. The abuse continued for 3-4 minutes. There were about six other people in the carriage and not a single person said anything. 

Graham started to wonder where the situation was going to lead. Would the group of girls start to attack him physically? Eventually, a couple in their 30s came over and confronted the girls. They told them how unacceptable their behaviour was and the girls eventually backed down. Graham is fully aware of how the identity of the couple played a significant role.

 “They did respect this couple; when they realised, ah a Scottish white couple is telling me I’m wrong, then I must be wrong.”

 Having a white face is clearly important when combatting racism in Scotland.

Trying to educate the next generation

Graham and the girls got off the train at the same station and he attempted to educate them on the unacceptability of their behaviour. Since the incident, he has also spent time using his position at the council to try to train teachers in anti-racist behaviour and anti-racist practice in order to help them learn how to challenge racism.


“There’s still a lot of progress to make because it’s pretty clear that those girls’ schooling did not prepare them, today in 21st century Scotland, for how you should behave in public, and, also, how you should behave towards non-white people”.

Ensuring that people know how to challenge racism is vitally important as incidents such as these only serve to make non-white people feel less safe. “I’m a 55-year-old man, I’m having to think about my personal safety and security on trains now”. Graham then goes on to make a chilling observation:

Obviously, for younger black people, that must be what they’re experiencing. If they’re having to go to school with kids like that… then, in many ways, my experience in the 1970s from 50 years ago is still very relevant to what’s happening to kids now”.


The all-too-familiar struggle of Racism in Scotland

This sad incident of racism in Scotland forces us to ask ourselves: how much progress have we made? And, if we have made progress, how close are we to all of that progress being undone? One thing we all must do in order to protect those experiencing discrimination is to stand up to it. This can simply involve filming incidents of discrimination when they arise.

A racist abuser is much less likely to attack someone from a minority if they know someone is filming them. What is essential, though, is that good people do not sit idly by and do nothing. We all have the power to combat abuse and we must use it.

Share this episode

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


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

Favourite Show: Anything Marvel

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.