All white people are racists.
That got your attention, didn’t it? Before you start on the whole ‘How dare you’ thing, I’m white and, while I try my very hardest not to be prejudiced, I am – because that’s what I was taught by society as I grew up. I don’t always realise it, but that is the point – I am in the privileged position of not having to see racism when it’s in front of me because it’s not directed at me, because I’m white and sound very English. See how that works?
Now that I have your attention there’s some stuff going on that we need to talk about. First up, Munroe Bergdorf. She has made the most amazing success of her life, but the fact that she was chosen by L’Oréal Paris to be a part of their campaign should most definitely not be taken as a sign that all of societies ills have been healed and that everyone can make it, no matter what their skin colour, religion or gender.
Munroe Bergdorf knows this, and she speaks out on racism regularly. In fact, the Facebook posts she was sacked by L’Oréal Paris for were written in response to Charlottesville, which – in case you missed it – was a display of white supremacy and terrorism.
“Structural racism, as described by Bergdorf, is an actual thing that we need to deal with. We. White people.”
The fact that we even have white supremacists walking around with automatic weapons, unchallenged by the police, in a country like America is a pretty big sign that structural racism, as described by Bergdorf, is an actual thing that we need to deal with. We. White people.
We need to grapple with this and actually do something about it. Acknowledging it and talking about it is a start. What some white people are doing, though, is making it all about their hurt feelings (looking at you, Piers Morgan), and trying to shut down the conversation or derail it (looking at you again, Piers).
True to form, Bergdorf has received the by-now-all-too-usual rape and death threats that are thrown at any woman who dares to put her head above the parapet. As a person from a BAME background she has undoubtedly received more than the average. Far more than she would if she had white skin.
“This is a pattern that is repeated as often as anyone with the temerity to not be white tries to speak up and call out what is going on in society.”
This is an experience that is shared – women are attacked for having an opinion, BAME women exponentially more so, as Diane Abbott can confirm. It’s all aimed at shutting down the conversation, trying to stop people such as Bergdorf from speaking out. The current controversy over Diane Abbott saying the n-word on Good Morning Britain, while PewDiePie has been excused for it on a live stream video, is just such a classic example of this that I can’t even believe people are still confused about it.
This pattern is repeated as often as anyone with the temerity to not be white tries to speak up and call out what is going on in society, as can be seen from the experiences of Jamele Hill too. The ESPN anchor tweeted from her personal account her views on Trump and a certain section of his supporters that have also been expressed by many different people and across many different platforms.
Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) September 11, 2017
This is not a new idea, this is not even that controversial an idea given how many people agree with it, and yet Jamele Hill is the one that the White House called for to be sacked. She also, just to hammer the point home, is black, so this would seem to not be a coincidence.
Just to spell it out, we have the White House, the seat of power in the United States, calling for a journalist to be sacked because she points out some thing that is not only morally reprehensible, but plain for people to see. This is not the way governments and those in power should act.
If governments and leaders don’t like being accused of doing something wrong, by their own citizens, or those in other countries, then the appropriate course of action is to stop, discuss the problem, and find a solution. It is not appropriate to shut down protests, or silence objectors. Certain leaders and governments haven’t always taken this path, of course. There have been some notable exceptions – Idi Amin, Pol Pot, Nicolae Ceausescu, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong Un all spring to mind as examples of not allowing people to speak out against them. And they have one thing in common – they were all dictators, totalitarian leaders.
This is not a road we want America, the UK, or any country, to go down. It’s time to stop, listen to those who are warning us, and take action to stop this in its tracks.