Wow. Is there no limit to the man’s cheek? Even approaching this? Jee-sus.
In my defence, your honour – this. I’m interested/sympathetic/wanting to say something and thinking that despite the obvious dangers – risking looking an arsehole or faaar worse – I want to make a contribution. Mainly because *how I seem* doesn’t matter and talking about racism in a way I hope is supportive and constructive does.
To be clear, I absolutely back what Eddo-Lodge says about our – white folks’ – complicity in the omni-present monster that is structural racism. That’s the headline here: I dare to say some wrong stuff because I honestly want to plant my own, feeble flag next to Reni and the anti-racist activists. (They may not want me, of course, for reasons I’d completely understand).
So a review of sorts. Of a strong book with strong arguments.
Listening back, I realise I failed to mention the particularly juicy stuff in the book about ‘overwhelmingly white feminism’: regret that. But am thinking this omission was probably because I was ver-ry conscious of going on too long – as per. In any case, methinks I open enough worm-cans without going there, too, eh? May well write more, but for now, please do have a listen…
Ok. Am clear on a few things. This idea that (too many) white people have that structural racism either doesn’t really exist or is in some way overblown by The Activists must surely be bloody infuriating for black people. (So no wonder Reni doesn’t want to waste her breath). Am pin-sharp, now, on the necessity to absolutely challenge the f*** out of that. Plus the facts, the history of racism and discrimination across most facets of life, affecting most things – at some level – that people of colour do. Documented. Again. Here. I’m clearer.
Structural racism is everywhere and does matter and Eddo-Lodge’s argument that all of us as a kind of starting point have to accept that and then begin to act, is undeniable. White blokes like me can’t say that the fifty-odd years of conditioning we’re carrying ‘makes it tough’ to break the habit of not noticing. White women can’t shuffle feet and lower eyes and not engage with The Painful Truth.
The Painful Truth is so grotesque and so ferkin obvious that our white squeamishness about protests generally and noisy, challenging ones particularly is an embarrassment, a fraud. We have to get behind the demand for equality. None of us approve of violence but we can’t go drowning out the legitimate voices of protest because we ‘aren’t comfortable’ with angry black faces on the news. My god we’d be angry.
I respect the anger in this book and the powerfully controversial challenge to feminism, which plainly drew plenty of vitriol back towards the author.
Really don’t wish to conflate arguments too much, here but clearly there are parallels between racism and sexism: the writer (I think) was challenging that ‘inertia’ around feminists (also, often) being unable or unwilling to confront, or just kinda stuck with assumptions around a weirdly idealised, white status quo. One where they thought/hoped colour was not being judged, was not an agent, never mind an urgency.
This racism thing has been urgent for hundreds of years: Eddo-Lodge is demanding all of us acknowledge that RIGHT NOW… as a starting-point. Don’t bang on about the universal right to freedom of speech too much until the monster that is racism is confronted.
Much of the media and of course all of the right-wing/nazis want the story to be arse-about-face – about white folks being ‘oppressed’ (hah!) by immigration, by activists, by the unruly subversion of ‘how we go about things’. Bollocks. The overwhelming power has been going in the other direction, more or less viciously, for hundreds of years. This is why there may really be a hierarchy of urgencies; why it might be right to cut to the quick, to the Biggest Most Obvious Injustice – racism.
I may be wrong but I think Eddo-Lodge is saying that there is no decency, no contemplating a broader, healthier, even remotely equitable society without first unseating that white privilege. It should be top of the list. Our collective and individual energy needs to go into anti-racism, now: everything else has the effect of enabling a profoundly racist status quo. For what it’s worth, I’m with her.