The false narrative about racism in the UK/US

Anti-racism campaigning and criticism of alleged racism seems to (rather like ‘feminism’) be making a comeback. Black Lives Matter protests are part of it – but page after page of the Guardian and the Independent are full of stories of racism. White young people are told that they enjoy “white privilege” – a vacuous idea designed it seems to explain any failings at all on the part of their black and ethnic minority compatriots and brothers.

The liberal press has been strongly hinting at the idea that higher incidences of Covid amongst black and ethnic minority populations in the UK are the result of racism. Almost as if Sars-Cov-2 is being accused of having aligned itself with the white racists in power. The news that there are significantly lower rates of vaccine take-up amongst these sections of society is tricky for this narrative – but I have even seen this reported as evidence of racism.

My own experience of racism in the UK is this; there is virtually no racism in professional circles, in business and work – that is in professional organisations. I’ve worked in a lot of companies due to my contracting career and I’ve only once in many years heard anything racist – a single remark from a troubled young man with Asperger’s. I haven’t seen racism in schools or colleges where I’ve worked. Ever. Not once. However; there is still a lot of racism, especially from an older generation, in rural areas. This is not ‘institutionalised’ – it is more likely to be someone using the offensive word “Nigerian” (a sort of crude code for a worse word), or making a remark about ‘immigrants just off the boat’. When I’ve encountered this sort of racism usually it turns out that the person making the remark assumed I was racist and was trying to ‘pal up’ with me in some way; “us whites”. While odious I doubt in most cases I’ve encountered it reflects a deeply held and proactive racism. But it certainly reflects prejudice. I would be wary of going into a pub in many rural areas for fear of encountering racism.

The idea that the UK still suffers from widespread institutional racism and that white people in business and industry need to be educated to remove their “white privilege” is keenly promoted by liberals. A recent government report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, released today has concluded that institutional racism does not exist in the UK. The government press release says “The landmark report challenges the view that Britain has failed to make progress in tackling racial inequality, suggesting the well-meaning ‘idealism’ of many young people who claim the country is still institutionally racist is not borne out by the evidence”. [1] The report apparently accepts that ‘overt racism’ still exists in places in the UK. (Interestingly, this coincides pretty much with my own perception above).

Awkwardly for those who wish to dismiss the report as the work of the Tories it appears that the board of the Commission is extremely diverse. The list of members is here. More than half the board members are not white.

My own view is that far too much is made of racial differences. I find the constant referencing of skin colour rather odd. A simple example; during the riots in Washington which saw the US Capital building invaded by demonstrators there was a striking video of a single policeman trying to hold back a large mob of protesters. He behaved very professionally; he withdrew a bit, remonstrated with the protesters; withdrew a bit more and so on. He didn’t draw his weapon. In other words he did what he could to delay the protesters without putting anyone’s life in danger or escalating the situation. The policeman was black. In as much as I noticed this I thought ‘good for him’. Of course for the liberal press it was hugely significant that this policeman was “Black” (it has to be in capital letters). In this narrative a Black police officer was ‘chased’ by a mob. This is just one example; of how keen they are to construct racially-loaded narratives when in reality the racial element of the situation is neither here nor there. He just happened to be be a black guy – a policeman doing his job; and there was nothing in the video at least that suggested that the mob was racist towards him.

There seems to me something retro about this revival of anti-racism campaigning. Like people wearing flares or having punk haircuts. It is as if the younger generation (stirred up of course by professional agitators) feel that they have to protest against racism because their parents did. It is just that the racism against which their parents protested has in fact largely gone. So it looks a little weird.

It is not just racism; the same overplaying of the victim card happens in many other areas too. Even when a certain group is no longer in any sense a victim and has in fact won everything (a complete victory) they, that is professional agitators acting in the name of the group, still seem to have to play the victim card. At one level it may simply be the same phenomenon we see in civil wars. The leaders of the guerrilla army continue to fight on, not because the cause is still needed, but simply because this is the only career they know.

On a wider level it is probably something to do with victim culture in the widest sense; in this society the narrative is that being a victim is good; a worthy and moral position. Agitators use ‘victims’ to attack and undermine those in authority. It is part of the wider impetus of power to undermine the authority which previously it was aligned with. In one of its most absurd and out-of-control forms we have this programme of attacking ‘white people’ in general for being white.


Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer