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Understanding racism - only read if interested in this topic!

Ok, here goes and apologies in advance for the very long post. I hope the topic is obvious and would suggest that posters only read this if they are interested and unlikely to get offended / upset by the content.

To introduce myself, I have been a member of Charlton Life since 2011 and a reader for much longer. I come on this site multiple times every day. However, I’ve only ever made three posts. One to wish SCP good luck when he left, once when Roland left and once on a topic about members that never post! I came online today for my fourth post to celebrate TS’s takeover, but then got lost in the many posts about racism and it drove me to write this.

I work as a D&I Lead in one of the world’s largest organisations. I am also black. I have specifically committed to try to educate people on racism over the past few months and hence the reason for my post. This is meant to be informative / educational and in no way intended to call anyone out or point fingers, although I will be using a couple of examples that I have read to give context. Please don’t read on if you have no interest in learning more on this.

Racism, in its very simplest form, is when someone makes an antagonist remark or action against someone of a particular race or ethnic group. It can be deliberate or accidental and posted in the form of a joke or generalisation. This is not to be confused with a micro-aggression, which is a remark or action that simply has something to do with someone’s race or ethnicity. Micro-aggressions typically don’t have a negative intent, but can be exhausting if you are on the end of it. Examples of micro-aggression would be asking someone where they are really from, asking to touch a black ladies hair because you like the way it feels or, often in my case, deciding to call someone by a different name because their actual name is too difficult for you to grasp. Micro-aggressions are really important for people to understand and are not just linked to race. There is a very short video which you can watch on this to explain: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hDd3bzA7450&feature=emb_title

I read a lot of comments of people everywhere suggesting that the world has become too “sensitive” or people “can’t take a joke”. Hopefully the above video explains that better. However, comments like that are, almost always, made by people who have white privilege and haven’t lived with these “jokes” their whole lives. I know white privilege has become a buzz term recently and can be described in many ways, but as a general rule, you have white privilege in the UK if you answer yes to all or the majority of the following: 1) When I walk into my work or public area, most people look like me; 2) The primary language spoken in my household is English; 3) I am able to walk into a shop without fear of being followed / scrutinised more than the norm; 4) I do not need to alter my behaviours, appearance of speech to fit in more with those around me. There are of course other questions that can be asked in this scenario, but you get the idea.

Having white privilege isn’t a negative and of course isn’t anyone’s fault. But it needs to be understood. Nobody can possibly make the assumption that they wouldn’t be offended by something, if the joke isnt about their own race or ethnicity and they haven’t put up with listening to those “jokes” their whole lives. So when you consider telling a “joke”, can you actually relate to the person you are saying it about? If the answer is “no”, even if the “joke” is well intentioned, it’s probably best to leave it.

On the takeover thread which has now been closed, there was a joke about Nimer and kebab shops. Although I am sure it was unintentional, this is of course racist. It was almost definitely made in reference to the fact that he has a similar skin colour to people you would “normally” find running a kebab shop. Horrific geography and understanding of where Nimer is from aside (I am unaware of the UAE having a particular liking for kebabs), it is a remark made because of his race and therefore, sorry to say, is racist.

Similarly, there was a post (although it seems to have been deleted now), where someone listed various articles of all the ridiculous things that people take offence to now. Before it was deleted, I just want to make the point that most of those articles are specifically designed to try and discredit the fight against real racism. They are almost always made up or sensationalised, with a view to trivialise the real issue. The post contained articles like people calling for the White Cliffs of Dover to be renamed.  Of course, this is ridiculous and there is no credible large groups pushing for anything like that. These articles try to make the fight against racism seem ridiculous – please do not read or repost them. From memory, the post also included an article saying people were pushing for words such as “blacklist” to be banned. Funnily enough, although there is actually nobody seriously pushing for these words to be banned, you may be interested to watch a short clip of Muhammad Ali to understand this more and why this isn’t as ridiculous as it may seem: https://twitter.com/bbc/status/1270385415380283392?lang=en

I could write for hours about this and know this is already a very long post. I don’t believe that there is anyone on this site that is fundamentally racist, but I hope that this provides some information on how we can all fight racism better together. If anyone has any questions for me, or wants clarification on what is / isn’t the right thing to say, I am happy to answer questions and help educate. Don’t be afraid to talk about race or scared of saying the wrong thing in order to educate yourself – talking about it is the first step.

And, to finish on what, I came on here originally to say - Delighted to welcome TS to the club and f-off ESI / PE!

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Comments

  • A very well thought out and informed post.
    Apart from using Muhammad Ali. 
    He was as racist as they come. 
  • Great post. Thanks for writing it. 
  • Iceman said:
    A very well thought out and informed post.
    Apart from using Muhammad Ali. 
    He was as racist as they come. 
    Thank you.

    I agree that he had some racist views. I was specifically referring to the posted clip around what he was talking about in that short part of the interview to provide an understanding of certain words / norms, rather than endorsing his views as a whole. 
    In that case we are in full agreement. 
    Very good post btw 
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  • Somebody has mentioned Muhammed Ali, and this is a sports forum discussing sport.
    Here is a famous brilliant sportsman in action.



    And although the famous and successful can sometimes be cosseted from the more everyday grubby nasty aspects of racism, and people often say it is a problem of the past, here is what he says earlier this year.

    https://news.sky.com/video/history-is-written-by-the-people-who-do-the-harm-cricket-commentators-view-of-white-privilege-12024274


  • Interesting, because about 20 years ago I was going out with an Iranian woman and I do remember saying to her, that I thought she was very "Exotic" of course I thought and meant it as a compliment and thankfully she did take it that way.

    I wouldn't have thought at the time that it may have been considered as racism and in the context I meant, that compared to my previous relationships, mostly English women, she did seem 'Exotic' .

    The definition of Exotic, originating in or characteristic of a distant foreign country. 

    Was I being a racist, literally one could say yes if going by the definition but was I?
  • seth plum said:
    Somebody has mentioned Muhammed Ali, and this is a sports forum discussing sport.
    Here is a famous brilliant sportsman in action.



    And although the famous and successful can sometimes be cosseted from the more everyday grubby nasty aspects of racism, and people often say it is a problem of the past, here is what he says earlier this year.

    https://news.sky.com/video/history-is-written-by-the-people-who-do-the-harm-cricket-commentators-view-of-white-privilege-12024274


    I didn’t see that clip when it was broadcast, but my youngest forwarded it to me and told me how it affected him and that I must watch it. Powerful, thought provoking, and delivered with dignity and eloquence. Michael Holding, an unbelievably good cricketer and an even better human being.

    The very final second of that clip is the most emotive.
  • I meant to add, a very fine post @Iceman
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  • Interesting, because about 20 years ago I was going out with an Iranian woman and I do remember saying to her, that I thought she was very "Exotic" of course I thought and meant it as a compliment and thankfully she did take it that way.

    I wouldn't have thought at the time that it may have been considered as racism and in the context I meant, that compared to my previous relationships, mostly English women, she did seem 'Exotic' .

    The definition of Exotic, originating in or characteristic of a distant foreign country. 

    Was I being a racist, literally one could say yes if going by the definition but was I?
    No
    Could I have that in writing, please?
  • Great post Iceman, as others have said, nice to see you post much more on here.
  • Nicely put Iceman.
  • bobmunro said:
    seth plum said:
    Somebody has mentioned Muhammed Ali, and this is a sports forum discussing sport.
    Here is a famous brilliant sportsman in action.



    And although the famous and successful can sometimes be cosseted from the more everyday grubby nasty aspects of racism, and people often say it is a problem of the past, here is what he says earlier this year.

    https://news.sky.com/video/history-is-written-by-the-people-who-do-the-harm-cricket-commentators-view-of-white-privilege-12024274


    I didn’t see that clip when it was broadcast, but my youngest forwarded it to me and told me how it affected him and that I must watch it. Powerful, thought provoking, and delivered with dignity and eloquence. Michael Holding, an unbelievably good cricketer and an even better human being.

    The very final second of that clip is the most emotive.
    I don't agree with every position Michael Holding takes - he can be quite binary - but that interview was outstanding and communicated the issue brilliantly.
  • Gillis said:
    One of the best parts of the pub game is the people you meet & the diversity it brings , i meet so many different walks of life on a daily basis & hear so many different views but as I publican I learnt early on to keep my views to myself & just be more of a listener & advocate.

    Buckingham university is a private university & therefore there are a lot of foreign students, most of my staff are from the university & are mostly non British , we are a tight knit group & socialise together outside of work & even some of them come to me at Xmas when they are not going home.

    Im white & English & take a lot of stick from them for it , this is largely down to the environment I’ve created where we are all equal & there is nothing they can’t say to me , if I do something wrong at work they call me out on it , if I’ve been particularly stressful in service they will tell me , always with good humour as they know that’s not really my nature.

    All the white boy or English jokes made about me or to me are taken as the jokes they were intended to be I’ve never taken offence which is why I guess they see it as acceptable to make , I’m sure they would not say the same things if someone they didn’t know was in earshot in case it caused offence . 
    I love Comedy & find jimmy Carr funny , he jokes about risky things , I have a wheelchair bound sister & make risky jokes to her I couldn’t say to another disabled person as she knows me & how heartbroken I am over her situation but she loves the humour & the fact I don’t skip around the situation.

    I don’t know what all this means & maybe deep down I’m a racist because I allow people to make jokes about my colour, how my pale ass turns red at the thought of sun or my love of hip hop , grime & drum & bass music & urban fashion but I just don’t find it offensive so it just really doesn’t Bother me but I perfectly accept that some people do .

    just another take on it I guess make of me what you will but I don’t consider myself to be a bad person or a racist person 

    I can't imagine anyone would find anything objectionable in what you've posted. However, if most of the people you encountered in your daily life weren't white, and made the same jokes about you that your colleagues do, and did so frequently, regardless of how well they knew you, I expect your attitude to those jokes would be very different.
    Quite. It is one of the reasons why the issue is different here - we have such a self-deprecating sense of humour that we join in with these kind of jokes. 

    We should remember that white people's experiences of 'racism' is from a position of power and advantage. The experience of a person of colour is often quite different. I had a conversation earlier this year with a black woman who used to work for me. Thankfully she was very complimentary about my approach to her, but she did say that she hears 'go home' on a weekly basis, and countless intended 'jokes' that actually diminish and differentiate her. You could sense the anger underneath that could easily be dismissed as a 'chip on the shoulder'. 

  • Really good post @iceman and I agree with all of it. Me and Mrs 3rd were discussing tonight how we beat racism in all its forms, we both agreed that directly calling people out whether in real life or online rarely seems to work as people naturally get defensive. I honestly believe the vast majority of people do not believe they are being racist so all that remains is to educate but how that happens I have absolutely no idea. Its easy when people want to educate themselves but how do you do it when there is a reluctance to learn?

    I guess what I'm saying is with all the recent push for bringing racism into the spotlight how much has actually changed? Do protests and public shows make a difference or does it just cause a defensive response from the exact people that it is aimed at? 
  • Thank you for posting Iceman.
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