I made an offhand remark yesterday about race being largely irrelevant now, and a clarification that turned into an equally facetious comment about racism being something that generally lies beneath the surface these days. But it’s really still a big problem, the way it does that.
The people who the author of that article is mostly talking about are white people who still somehow, on some level, see black people as being “other”, or categorised differently somehow, even if it’s not conscious or deliberate or in any way malicious or derogatory the way it’s done. These are people who might try to consider themselves “colour blind”, but in so doing end up just being oblivious to any racial tensions or other issues that really exist, thinking that they’re being perfectly fair and equal to everyone by not taking any notice of racial matters at all.
This is not an entirely alien position to someone like me. But the point is that I still need to do some actual work in this area. I can’t slack off just because I’ve done the easy bit. Sure, so I think black people are great. That doesn’t mean I’m done. It doesn’t mean that I can disassociate myself from any bigotry or discrimination going on around me and declare myself apart from it, tell myself that it’s nothing to do with me, it’s all somebody else’s fault, racist people’s fault, because I’m not racist.
The author also writes about an event that was held recently at 10 Downing Street to celebrate LGBT history month. (Apparently it was February. I didn’t notice. Doesn’t seem fair that they have to share it with black people, really.) It turned out that it had been a largely white middle-class affair, and “queers of colour” didn’t seem to be fairly represented there. He posted an irate comment about this on Facebook, and admits that he may have “a lot to learn in terms of how to challenge racism within the LGBT community”.
But I don’t think one rather aggressive comment about the under-representation of minorities is the real problem here. I think bigger problems include A) the, y’know, under-representation of minorities, and 2) a tendency among the people of privilege (which I use relatively – among the queer community, the privileged are the white middle-class queer people) to respond to the tone of these messages ahead of the content.
Yes, one person was being kind of bitchy, but the thing he was being bitchy about was racial discrimination, and it’s intensely frustrating how easily that seems to be lost sight of. Minority folk aren’t always going to pussy-foot politely around the subject and ask for your kind permission to raise a point or be part of your community. Sometimes they’re pissed. Sometimes they’re going to shout. If you listen, then maybe they won’t need to keep shouting.
I’m still not desperately comfortable writing on this subject, but I hope it’s making some kind of sense.
Also, although the biography at the bottom of the page refers to the author as “he”, he does say in the article: “I don’t identify as a man”. I’m happy to take advice on more appropriate pronoun use here.
And in my “And in other news” section for today, not all politicians are rubbish: some liberal democrats consider internet freedom important enough to publicly support, and indeed to take an emergency motion to their party conference this weekend. Yay them. I don’t know enough of the background to really get stuck into this topic. I tend to just worry about it as a distance. Maybe now I’m being all politically activistical this is the sort of thing I’ll have to start finding stuff out about.