Cotswold Life

Edi­tor’s Com­ment

- MIKE LOWE mike.lowe@archant.co.uk Fol­low Mike on Twit­ter: @cot­slifeed­i­tor Racism · Discrimination · Human Rights · Society · United States of America · Twitter · The Lord of the Rings · The Simpsons · The Simpsons Movie · Mahatma Gandhi · Kellogg Company · Beijing · Instagram · Western Sahara · Copenhagen · Toy Story · Kew Gardens · Adolf Hitler · Dover City · Charles Dickens · Thomas the Tank Engine

RACISM is prob­a­bly the most per­ni­cious blight suf­fered by so­ci­ety world­wide. We might have thought that we’d out­grown all that non­sense by now, but events in the USA have led to the launch of the Black Lives Mat­ter cam­paign and have ex­posed a nasty un­der­cur­rent of in­sti­tu­tional and everyday racism in this coun­try. It is preva­lent in our his­tory and in our daily lives and it has to be erad­i­cated. (When we have 12-year-olds al­legedly send­ing vile abuse to foot­ballers on so­cial me­dia, it re­ally is time to have a long, hard look at our­selves.)

How­ever…

Such is the over­whelm­ing de­sire amongst many peo­ple to in­dulge in very pub­lic hand-wring­ing, usu­ally on Twit­ter or that Book­face thing, that it is some­times dif­fi­cult to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween some­thing caus­ing gen­uine of­fence and some­thing that has be­come an in­no­cent, un­know­ing tar­get.

To that end, I present your racism primer. Some of the things on this list are real; some are imag­i­nary. See if you can tell which is which…

Golf is racist (the Mas­ters tour­na­ment should be re­named); chess is racist (white goes first); stat­ues of Je­sus are racist (he’s de­picted as a white male); master bed­rooms are racist (see golf). As are stick­ing plas­ters (colour); two-minute rice (farewell Un­cle Ben); Lord of the Rings (de­pic­tion of Orcs); coro­n­avirus (BAME peo­ple suf­fer dis­pro­por­tion­ately); The Simp­sons (white ac­tors do­ing black voices); stat­ues of Ma­hatma Gandhi (sup­ported the Bri­tish against the Zu­lus); over­worked nurses let­ting off steam (do­ing the haka on so­cial me­dia is cul­tural ap­pro­pri­a­tion); Kel­loggs ce­real boxes (specif­i­cally Coco Pops, nuff said); front lawns (racist sub­ur­bia); math­e­mat­ics in schools (cur­ricu­lum doesn’t in­clude is­sues of iden­tity); Rishi Su­nak (fan­cia­ble Asian fetish); tooth­paste (Col­gate is chang­ing the ‘Dar­lie’ brand which is pop­u­lar in China and un­til 1989 was called some­thing not un­ad­ja­cent to Dar­lie); opin­ions (white peo­ple ei­ther hav­ing them or not hav­ing them); cli­mate change (dis­pro­por­tion­ate im­pact on BAME peo­ple); the Os­cars (too many white ac­tors nom­i­nated); knit­ting (“fi­bre artists of colour are tak­ing to In­sta­gram to call out in­stances of prej­u­dice”); cy­cling (not enough two-wheeled di­ver­sity); air pol­lu­tion (BAME com­mu­ni­ties breathe in more fumes than white peo­ple); Fawlty Tow­ers (poor old Ma­jor); ar­ti­san brew­eries (where are all the black brew­ers, eh?); pan­cake mix (Aunt Jemima heads of to the old stereo­types home with Un­cle Ben); suf­fragettes (secret white power man­i­festo); fish (ac­cord­ing to graf­fiti on Copen­hagen’s Lit­tle Mer­maid statue); Toy Story films (not enough BAME toys); fast food (pre­pon­der­ance of take­aways in BAME com­mu­ni­ties); clas­si­cal mu­sic (see the Os­cars); horse rac­ing (not enough four-legged di­ver­sity); white women be­ing nice and/or tra­di­tional housewives (re­in­forc­ing per­ceived supremacy); not be­ing racist (try­ing too hard to be not racist); An­glo Sax­ons (more white supremacy); Mary Pop­pins (soot-cov­ered face in chim­ney sweep scene); jogging (see cy­cling); Kew Gar­dens (colonised botan­i­cal col­lec­tions); sand­wiches (peanut but­ter and jelly is an Amer­i­can racial stereo­type); dogs (may pick up prej­u­dices from their own­ers); li­braries (pro­mote white­ness); sci­ence (un­savoury his­tory be­hind many in­ven­tions); Coun­try and West­ern mu­sic (goes with­out say­ing); Scrab­ble (abil­ity to spell out racist words); yoga (cul­tural ap­pro­pri­a­tion); wine (not enough wines aimed at BAME peo­ple); ve­g­an­ism (“Hitler was a veg­e­tar­ian”); the white cliffs of Dover (re­nam­ing de­manded); Thomas the Tank En­gine (im­pe­ri­al­ist sub-texts); Charles Dick­ens (xeno­pho­bic).

Want the re­ally bad news? Ev­ery sin­gle one of these sto­ries has ap­peared in print or pix­els in the past few weeks. The prob­lem with this is that ob­sess­ing with the minu­tia de­flects at­ten­tion from the big is­sues. Our fire needs to be con­cen­trated on the real tar­gets – and there are more than enough of those around.

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