Sunday, November 27, 2005

Lesson learnt

Well that is the last time I'm recommending to anyone to read a Murdoch rag for any reason. I was told by someone in the BBC that there would be a big spread so I duly passed it on (even got my folks to buy it, and they gave up buying the ST about a decade ago - after my nagging). But it was worth getting MW to buy it for her forensic examination of the way in which it is subtly (and not-so-subtly) racist. There is an all-pervasive white supremacy in the UK that is incredibly subtle but always there. It is hard to detect because oftentimes it doesn't take place at the level of language or discourse - its more in the way events are framed. While London is one of the most multicultural cities on earth (visually) one should not be fooled into think all is well under the House of Windsor.

Unfortunately, as with feminism, our times have moved away from radical contestive discourses on race. White people think all is well because there are equal-opportunities policies in place. Let me give an example of how crass race can be: a son of a close Nigerian friend in the UK started going to a famous Catholic school (previously attended by the Blair's sons). They have a regulation at this school that boy's hair should not be too short - at the least it should be about 1 and 1/2 inches. Now this might stop white boys looking like skinheads, but it obviously spells disaster for the parents of a black child trying to make their son look all neat and natty. In this example, nothing is said that is racist, however the policy itself does not cater for difference, and is therefore inadvertently racist. Of course, black people could give thousands of similar examples. The sad thing is that unlike the 1980's, there is no radical challenging voice forcing white folks to wake up.

Young Nigerians and the Tories
I've recently met some young (20something) Nigerians in the UK, some of whom are Tories. This is somewhat discombobulating. It's always been hard to swallow that some black people could vote for this smug bunch of Rotary club racists. Of course I'm aware that this is a bit of a problematic attitude. You could also say that there is very little difference between the main parties these days, so what does it matter? But a little bell inside me keeps insisting that if only 24 year olds had experienced Thatcher and her disasterous policies, they would change their mind. Oh well. To each her own.


Teju Cole 7:05 pm  

You know how they always say that the Devil's greatest trick is convincing people he doesn't exist? Well, that's kind of like white privilege.

White privilege is so great precisely because no one believes it is there.

I think the story of the black kid who's not allowed to crop his hair close is an excellent example, particularly because it is so slight a situation. I bet you'll get readers who think, "Hey, what's the big deal, rules are rules." Insidious, subtle shit.

My favorite (if I may use that term) example of white privilege is the way newspapers in the UK and the US say "a man" when they mean a white man, and "a black man" when they mean a black man. White, by implication, is normal. What a mindfuck. (And, natch, we see the same thing in the gender divide- "a doctor" vs "a female doctor", etc). Language is power.

the flying monkeys 8:06 pm  

Jeremy this is on Tejus point and at the risk of sounding trite; subconsciously or consciously I think we all live in a world of unearned privileges.

Lets take a trip back home to our own mothership and consider the manner a Yoruba man/woman would report an event involving the death of 2 yoruba men/women and 1 hausa man/woman.

He would say: eniyan meji ati hausa kan
meaning 2 "people" and 1 hausa !!! Is the hausa not "human"?

So I would say there is nothing inherent in most forms of statecraft where it emerges in such a fundamental way. What I think we need to see in Nigeria (as this is what concerns me) is the government promoting an agenda/program on diversity that I could expunge ourselves of racism (the very essence of our dilemma) and accept all people.

Chxta 10:35 am  

I have nothing to say about the whole racism thing, I've experienced it before, and in Sweden of all places, and it wasn't funny. But then truth is we have such behavious among ourselves as Obokun rightly pointed out...

Now back to the Alams issue...

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