The current discussion around racism and discrimination is welcome and we all need to take an active, honest part in it. For white people, like me, that has to start with looking at ourselves and those deeply buried cultural beliefs that condition much of our attitudes and lay waiting to pounce, whether it’s Boris Johnson using inappropriate terms such as “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles” or calling a character in a novel a racist slur. But it’s not limited to our elite.
How many of us, if cut up on the motorway by a boy racer in a flash car, would not consider the driver’s colour, even if only for a nanosecond? We are never going to be tempted to shout at him “white b*****d” but could we honestly say there is absolutely no chance that if he were black his colour could not pop into our minds?
We shouldn’t be surprised by this, instead be aware and conscious of why this could be. I suggest that for at least 500 years we have been telling ourselves that we, the white British, are better than all other races and this has been used to justify slavery, imperialism and even Brexit – we’ve effectively brainwashed ourselves. The problem is deep within us and our culture and to eliminate it we have to accept that the problem is ours and that we all need to constantly work on it.
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