Thoughts from a woodpile
A couple of years ago I did a gig in Wilmslow, where an older woman from the well-to-do audience informed me I didn’t need to talk about race in my set as “racism was over”. I was pulled over by the police four minutes after leaving that gig. That was one of the four occasions it’s happened.
I try to write my blogs when I’ve finished reading all the racist news stories and comments online, I tried starting on Monday and its now late Sunday night. I can reliably inform that lady, Racism is not over. In fact, it’s practically thriving.
At the start of this week, Member of Parliament Anne Marie-Morris said ‘nigger’ with the same nonchalance that I pay to the decision of which boxers to wear in the morning (same ones as yesterday, usually). But obviously, this is an unintentional isolated incident by a lone wolf. A wolf with a husband who made racist remarks at an election husting a few months ago.
So, of course, her party merely suspended her; so she can still vote in a majority propped up by a racist, sexist and homophobic elite…and the DUP. This is why I get tired of talking about racism to (certain) white people. I still will, as I love a discussion but it just tends to be white noise. All the top structures seem to protect this behaviour, at the same time as asking the offended to constantly justify theirs.
When John Terry, former England & Chelsea captain called Anton Ferdinand a ‘fucking black cunt’ during a game, the FA believed he was "… not a racist" but were "satisfied" his comments were used as a racial insult. (Yes, he ate that steak but he’s still a vegetarian!) Even Mourhinio argued Terry wasn’t really a racist, look he has a black friend to defend him in court (who was conveniently married to a former alleged racially abusive pop star).
I understand that Terry is a hero to most Chelsea fans (and himself). But if he is, what example is that to kids and fans? Other than to say “being racist isn’t that much of a big deal, especially if it would cost an organisation or a political party money”.
Steve Bloomfield, wrote an excellent article in The Guardian about boycotting Aston Villa as John Terry joined. The abuse he got in the comments was depressing but different than usual, as Steve is white, rendering the usual ‘angry black man’ argument null and void. Instead he was a ‘lefty’ or it was “political correctness gone mad” (the racist cousin of “red tape and bureaucracy”). It seems they’re confusing having principles and not being a dick, with an Orwellian nightmare.
In fact, that nightmare came to fruition as the red tape cut, seemed to be the one stopping poorer people being burned alive in their homes, showing it's class as well as race that is marginalised. Councils meeting behind closed doors to discuss Grenfell Towers and what they can tell us, all the while hoping the confusing news cycle moves on and we forget the survivors or blame them. Whilst Trump’s America creates a new version of double speak, we have a repeat of the 80s whitewashing tragedy, elites keeping their noses in the trough and sending workhorses to the glue factory.
I’m taking a show up to Edinburgh called ‘Elvis Was Racist?’ which looks what we allow our ‘heroes’ to get away with and the privileges of race, class, gender, age and fame as an effort to explain to the woman from Wilmslow about my experiences. In the last year, I’ve been called a nigger by the owner of a bar I was gigging in (obviously not to my face) and even at last year’s Edinburgh experienced low level ‘casual’ racism from people who would describe themselves as liberal.
Even now I want to soothe white guilt by saying that in that same week as ‘nigger-gate’ I went to see Nas in concert who although being a very conscious rapper uses the word nigga which opens the debate of ‘why can you say it?’. It’s a debate worthy of a bigger piece than a paragraph in this blog but luckily again this week Jay-Z went someway to explain by dropping his album with the song ‘The Story of O.J.’ what I believe to be an important song that will get no-where near as much exposure as something like Gold Digger.
I want to be able to explain to that woman that although these side debates could be important in educating, detract from the fact that a current MP said nigger with little repercussion. That trying to blame a man’s fridge and character for policies that allowed the cutting of corners, resulted in deaths and an inquiry that a lot have little faith in. That this was a week where Dianne Abbott read out the racist abuse she receives daily, Angela Raynor receives abuse for her Northern accent, acid attacks occur in London & a US states first and only black female attorney is pulled by the police. I want to explain that race and class are things that she might not have to deal with but they are like the sexism that she probably faced through her life, but thankfully, now, sexism is over.
And then I sat down to read the comments on the new Doctor Who.