No wonder there is such sensitivity over white people wearing dreadlocks

These letters appear in the 3 April 2016 digital edition of the Independent

Sunday 03 April 2016 18:37
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Corey Goldstein.
Corey Goldstein.

There has been a reactionary rush to condemn the young black woman who berated dreadlocked white student Corey Goldstein about cultural appropriation. Few people have reflected on the precariousness of black identity and its representation. Back in the mid-90s David Baddiel supported by his comedy partner Frank Skinner, spent an entire serious of Fantasy Football ridiculing the ethnic appearance of the black striker Jason Lee. Instead of white aesthetics Lee embraced the combination locks and cornrows iconography of his ethnic heritage. The comics ridiculed Lee as a "Pineapple head," as looking "like an Ancient Egyptian" and – incredibly - via Baddiel "blacking-up." Viewers were even encouraged to send in pictures mocking Lee’s appearance.

Taking its lead from Baddiel & Skinner, The Sun even pictured Lee with bananas growing out of his head. Tens of thousands abused Lee at football grounds and Baddiel and Skinner’s taunts provided the vocabulary of oppression for black children in school playgrounds. Among the many academics documenting this racist abuse Professor Ben Carrington wrote how this“transcended the normally insular world of football fandom and entered into the public domain as both a descriptive term and a form of ridicule for any black person with dreads tied back.“

Currently if a Spurs fan attempts the questionable solidarity of proclaiming himself to be a ‘Yiddo’ the CPS prosecutes. Yet in an era of prosecutions for historic offences Baddiel’s incitements - which in Jason Lee & others has actual victims - have not even damaged his career, let alone provoked equivalent legal censure. If members of the world's black diasporas – like this young woman - are sensitive about the politics of black representation, it is because of genuine ongoing historical reasons.

Dr Gavin Lewis, Manchester

Osborne's missing a dime

The Government, for which I voted, has cocked up again. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has got us in another fine mess. He has failed to spot that £172 million has disappeared from his Foreign Aid piggy bank. What does George Osborne do each day when he sits at his No 11 desk?

If it was me, I would be checking my pennies and shillings, never mind my pound notes.

Terry Duncan, East Yorkshire

Bring on a United States of Europe

Though I will vote to remain in Europe, my intuition is that the out vote will win.

However: handled correctly, this could lead to an even bigger win for the ‘in’ crowd at a later date. Europe is exasperated by the UK’s behaviour over decades and, when the true scale of the Brexit folly is manifest, a frantic scramble by the then incumbent government to rejoin will ensue.

That will be the cue for Europe to present a united front requiring "unconditional surrender" by the UK, with the whole nine yards of "ever closer union", no special terms or rebates, full compliance with all policies, adopting the Euro etc etc. Complete European integration at a stroke – and there will be quite a few of those amongst the diehard Eurosceptics.

A United States of Europe, with a broadly social democratic green posture, is the only way forward for us all and it cannot come soon enough. The Eurosceptics should note that the USA has been successful because of its scale and federal structure – they tend to look upon it as an exemplar, so why not emulate it?

Steve Ford, Haydon Bridge

We shouldn't have to pay for sex changes

Our nanny Ma Sturgeon is making a priority for NHS in Scotland to provide sex change operations without medical screening or counselling. Of course the SNP are magician's with tax payers cash, they can make it disappear faster than most with nothing to show for it.Like me you will know plenty of people who are short or proper care in old age, or cannot afford medicines not supplied by NHS. Now these should be priorities for a concerned compassionate first minister.

Eric Davidson, Banffshire

Heart of steel

Is the fact the Tories are only considering helping one of the steelworks part of their 'divide and rule' strategy? So much for the “One Nation Tories”.

Duncan Anderson, Immingham

Our best enemy

I think your editorial (2nd April) confuses British attitudes to France: we love the country but this affection does not necessarily extend to its people.

David Wallis, Cirencester

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