Saturday, 12 May 2018

The Colour of Racism

It’s been a busy old week at Battsby Towers and while I’ve accumulated lots of notes about topics to cover, I’ve also been flat out writing technical stuff for work. Still, we’re here now so what do you want to chat about? I’m hearing we’ve become more racist since the referendum; ‘UN Expert’ E Tendayi Achiume says so. Who, you may ask? Her role is – and you’ll love this: ‘Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance’. So the real headline should be more like: ‘truffle hound finds truffles’. 

It’s a curious concept, racism. What does it really mean? The first definition the interwebs offered up was: ‘prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior’. Seems fair enough; mind you, I’d feel quite antagonistic if somebody here for just a few days quizzed me about whether or not I felt less, about the same, or more racist since somebody started quizzing me about my racism. This is all bollocks of course, isn’t it?

I can certainly see how some who identify as victims of racism feel they have the licence to announce that it’s got worse since everybody started banging on about it. Reported cases have increased dramatically of late, but of course they will when the system demands we self-identify as racists and dob ourselves in; when the definition of hate crime allows anybody who imagines they have been snubbed to turn their perception into a crime statistic.

But have we really become ‘more racist’, or do we just exhibit the same amount of preference and disdain we always did? You see, for most British people it isn’t about race, it’s about culture. The shameful examples of white trash, covered in menacing tattoos and yobbishly marching about like they own the council estate are despised. The ennobled parliamentarians, who parade their privilege and sneer at the common herd who voted for Brexit disgust us. And we fear the moped muggers and knife-wielding thugs of the stabby capital of Europe.

And by ‘race’ does this expert really mean ‘colour’? Because, you know, being repeatedly told not only that all white people are racist, but that only white people can be racist will tend to piss us off a bit. If we discriminate in favour of what we now clumsily have to call ‘the BAME community’ we are tarred with employing ‘the soft bigotry of low expectations’. If you go looking for racism it is pretty well certain you will find it because, whatever we do, the jury of your peers already returned the verdict of guilty. (And yes, I did use ‘tarred’ deliberately – may as well be hung for a sheep and all that.)

The law of unintended consequence is always lurking in the shadows ready to do its dirty work. Are you a small business which can’t afford to pay two people to do one job? Then don’t employ women of child-bearing age. Worried about the gender pay gap? Suggest men work less. Do you need more qualified people? Dumb down education. Are you afraid of being called racist? Avoid mixing with, employing, or having any form of association with anybody who doesn’t look like you. How much racial segregation will we need, Ms Achiume, before you will be able to declare we have eradicated our hateful, racist ways? I won’t hold my breath.

1 comment:

  1. I have my racial prejudices not just racial of course but try to temper them with reason and logic. Unfortunately that same reason and logic always comes back to the same conclusion. There are concrete reasons for much of my prejudice as what I believe other people of a different race or religion do and are like they do act and are like that. Generally speaking.

    I have been the victim of racial prejudice at home because I am a Welshman and when I lived in France because I am also a Brit. I did not like it but I may have earned it as I am sure as an individual and being of a particular race I have certain characteristics that will be the source of comedy and/or ire and condemnation to others.