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Post Tagged with: racism

Diversity in the UK, late-70s style…

Diversity in the UK, late-70s style…

Thanks to @bloggerheads and b3ta for pointing me to this amazing late-70s UK video, celebrating the diversity of London by … having the great Derek Griffiths impersonate a Chinese man by pulling on his eyebrows and singing about Chinkies, with a popular UK song from 1969 celebrating the ‘melting’ pot’ of the UK.

Derek Griffiths, btw, was the amiable black host of many a childrens’ TV show back in the 1970s and early 80s. I feel like my childhood has just been urinated on. But I can’t stop watching it…

Forgetfulness or racism?

Forgetfulness or racism?

The Evening Standard carries a story about a black couple, outraged that their waitress scribbled ‘black couple’ on their bill, when they were the only couple dining.

The thing is, I’ve kind of done this myself while running my parents’ Chinese takeaway, scribbling descriptive notes on their order because I have a huge tendency to forget which order belongs to which customer. I’ve even done it when there’s only one customer – after all, another one will inevitably walk in and I’ll get all confused.

I’m not so sure I’ve gone as far as just describing someone in terms of their race, but there have been other unflattering descriptions such as baldy, NHS glasses etc. But if I went to a restaurant, and saw that scribbled on my order was “fat balding Chinese man”, I’d be a tad put out to say the least.

It’s certainly racism in the sense of discrimination against or antagonism towards other races, but there are probably bigger battles to fight. Like the woman at Question Time taking Jack Straw to task over African-Caribbean versus Afro-Caribbean while one of Britain’s biggest bigots sits on a panel next to Jack Straw. And then there’s the controversy in China over a “Chinese Idol” contestant who’s half-Chinese, half-black

Ooooh it’s complicated. But I’d rather we just end up dealing with people based on whether they’re nice to us or not…

Why do people believe in the BNP?

Why do people believe in the BNP?

So…

For what it’s worth, I think the BBC had to treat the BNP – and Nick Griffin – as any other politician. To set up a rule deciding on which political parties deserved coverage – and then to ignore it because you didn’t like the results – would be about as unBritish as you can get.

But the results haven’t exactly been good. 22% of people polled by the Daily Telegraph say they would consider voting for the BNP, while the News of the World’s poll of 504 people found a third backed the BNP policy that UK-born ethnic minorities should lose all benefits to pay for them to leave, whilst in a comment article (now deleted), the Daily Mail suggests that second-generation immigrants born in the UK aren’t British (while also trying to denounce the BNP). Which would include Winston Churchill, Prince Charles and Stephen Fry. At least two people on my blog reading list have decried the BNP while stating that immigration is now a huge problem as far as they’re concerned.

So Pandora’s Box has snuck into the UK, and been opened. But how did it come to this?

Well, it would have helped enormously if the issue had been played, rather than everyone concentrating their firepower on a small relatively insignificant political party (although it did attract nearly 6% of the votes at the last European election).

The anti-fascist protesters seemed far more interested in making a big noise and getting on the news than actually, y’know, trying to stop Nick Griffin getting onto the programme, as their stated aim was. After all, he snuck in by the back way, which isn’t exactly a state secret – there are five entrances into the complex, after all.

The whole point of Nick Griffin appearing on Question Time was that he was meant to be regarded as a normal politician. So why have a scenario where the programme might as well been called An Evening With Nick Griffin, with every diverse person you can think of lining up to take potshots at him? If I was a disgruntled white working-class voter watching that, I’d have been far more inclined to think Nick Griffin was right. (Although the BBC said it just drew a random selection of people from where it was being recorded – West London in this case – and the questions asked were ones chosen by the studio audience)

It should have been a ‘normal’ programme, with him being asked questions about, say, the Royal Mail strike instead of letting him turn it into a bite-sized voxpop of what his policies were. After all, if the Greens or the Communists were invited on, Question Time wouldn’t be dominated by environmental or communist issues.

The political parties and the Establishment have seemed far more interested in ignoring the BNP and their associated issues, instead of perhaps engaging with the electorate. Thus, we have a situation where a few people genuinely seem to believe that the British government is far more interested in helping asylum seekers than British people.

Which flies in the face of a reality where legal routes into settling in the UK are very bureaucratic, and puts a lot of obstacles in the way of my (white British) friend trying to settle in the UK with his (Korean) wife and in the meantime the British government deports women dying of cancer, locks up the children of asylum seekers, leading to things like a ten-year-old Nigerian girl trying to commit suicide as she sits waiting in an “immigration removal centre” and the Catch 22 scenario whereby the Home Office won’t kick people out but neither will it allow them to apply for legality in the first place.

Yes, being against immigration isn’t being racist. But the talk is already moving on from “new” immigrants to current immigrants and their sons and daughters. If you saw me walking down the street, I wouldn’t look British. But I sound, feel, and am British. How long will it be before I have to carry an identity card – or a yellow star – to prove that to people?

Cadburys’ made liquorice lozenges. Called Nigroids.

Cadburys’ made liquorice lozenges. Called Nigroids.

Nigroids from Ernest Jackson Madame Laudanum popped down to her local chemist, and found a tin of liquorice lozenges. Called Nigroids. Through a bit of Googling, we discover that the manufacturer of said Nigroid liquorice lozenges – Ernest Jackson & Co. Ltd – are apparently owned by Cadbury’s.

I’m still rather amazed they’re still called that. What possible reason would you have for calling liquorice lozenges Nigroids ?!

2010 Update: They now appear to be called Vigroids. Which is nice.

Prince Harry apologists are morons

Prince Harry apologists are morons

So, the man third in line to the British throne is caught on camera joking around and calling one of his Army colleagues and ‘mates’ a “Paki”. Apparently, it was all just a bit of joking, Harry gets called ginger quite often (so that’s alright then) and anyway it was all three years ago, he’s a different man, we apologise on Harry’s behalf, can we please all forget it now? Lest it be forgotten, this is also the same guy who wore a Nazi uniform to a fancy dress party.

Er…. no.

It points out the huge flaw in British society where the guy is so cut-off from the rest of British society, he’s missed the fact it’s been an insult for the last thirty-or-so years. And unless said Army colleague goes around saying “Hello, I’m a Paki” (which, frankly, seems a tad unlikely), you certainly don’t call a friend that.

What amazes me are the people who rush to his defence. Have they not been anywhere in the last decade or so? You rather expect latent knee-jerk racism from his grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh, since he’s 2000 years old. But from a 24-year-old?

Personally, unless I see an actual apology from Harry – not his office or whatever – then I’ll continue to believe he’s ignorant at best, a Hooray-Henry racist thug at worst.

Tearing up the rulebook on racism

Tearing up the rulebook on racism

Blimey. I really didn’t think America would elect a non-white person as President. I really didn’t think it was possible. The dice was stacked against him. After all:

– It’s a nation that voted twice for that international joke, Dubya. TWICE.
– A generation ago, I don’t think black people were even allowed to sit down in Washington D.C. ?
– There’s a national economic crisis. During a crisis, people’s usual instincts are to protect their own – hell, Britain’s cutting the numbers of immigrants it allows in because of the recession.
– Obama seems clever, intellectual, almost slightly aloof, not someone you could have a beer witha nd talk about the Sonics (or whatever). And when was the last time America elected a clever President?

So gosh darn it, now I can’t blame the lack of success in my life because I is not white. or black. On the other hand, one of my friends – who won’t date outside of her race – still wouldn’t shag Obama. So latent racism is still alive!

The more I read about Obama’s life, the more I’m amazed he got to Harvard, let alone anywhere else. Now he’s the US equivalent of Blair – arrives in office after almost a decade of slowly stagnated rule, with ludicrously high expectations. And it worked for Blair for a while – at least till Iraq happened.

And hey, maybe a re-assessment of America’s place in the world and a return to less consumer-ist times would mean things like the technically perfect, editorially disastrous and utterly pointless CNN hologram wouldn’t happen…

I almost want to say poor McCain. For a Republican candidate, he wasn’t that bad – he could have been a whole lot worse. But it sounds like the party lobby just strangled his maverickness at birth.

Is making fun of someone's pronounciation racist?

Is making fun of someone's pronounciation racist?

A work blogger I respect recently made a joke about their local Chinese takeaway mixing their Ls and their Rs when making a mythical dish. The in-house work magazine recently pointed out a menu slip-up meaning that a dish was described as “Lice” instead of rice, not noting that the two letters are very very far apart on the keyboard.

Naturally, that’s immediately raised my hackles and slightly offended me, but I can’t decide if it’s racist or not. On one hand, people do impersonations of Polish or Birmingham accents all the time. On the other hand, said jokes wouldn’t work if you were attributing them to a Turkish takeaway.

Then again, my native-Chinese mandarin teacher habitually mixes up her Ls and her Rs, which rather rankles with me internally. Oh, and the cartoon illustrations in the textbook she uses helpfully distinguish Chinese people by giving them slanted eyes.

*sigh* Oh it’s so confusing. But I definitely feel a whiff of genuine offence.

Is making a slitty-eyed gesture racist?

Is making a slitty-eyed gesture racist?

Spanish basketball team pictured with slitty-eyed gesture

To recap, the Spanish basketball team pose for a pre-Olympic-Games advert making slit-eyed gestures in one of Spain’s major newspapers. Freelance Madrid-based journalist Sid Lowe points this out in the Guardian, spreading the story everywhere else with predictable outrage in English-speaking media.

To which the Spanish wonder what the fuss is about. The Spanish-language paper El Mundo debates whether the advert was racist, and accuses the British press of trying to smear Spain’s good name. One Spanish basketballer apologises, saying “It’s wrong to interpret it as racist.”, while the head coach says “I don’t think it was offensive”.

Now, brilliantly, the original journalist who filed the report has filed a piece defending himself against accusations that he had a hidden agenda, pointing out that he never said it was racist. Of course, if you see someone carrying an umbrella, you don’t wonder if it’s raining or not.

Oh, and here’s the Spanish tennis team making a similar gesture. Interestingly, a random sampling of Chinese people in Beijing suggests they aren’t that bothered – but then they don’t have the history of racial harassment.

Be careful of what you put up on Flickr…

Be careful of what you put up on Flickr…

reappropriate.com has the very interesting story of how one goofy posed-for picture at a church barbecue in America became the centrepoint for a slightly racist campaign for Virgin Mobile Australia.

Of course the media is "institutionally racist" !

Of course the media is "institutionally racist" !

There’s been a bit of furore in the UK media after the chief of the Metropolitian police accused the media of racism, specifically reporting/hyping certain crimes more if white victims were involved, as opposed to non-white victims.

Why this comes as a surprise, I don’t know. Victims of crime who aren’t generic “pretty blondes” don’t really get covered in any depth, unless there’s another sensational aspect.

Hell, look at the perennial story of A-level students and their results. Pictures illustrating that tend to be of pretty female blonde students collecting their results. You hardly see any dark-haired women collecting their results, let alone non-white people.

Hell, when the national newspaper of Wales publishes an article headlined However much I love my gay friends, I don’t want them running the country, the problem isn’t just with racism. It’s sexism, homophobia, everything.

In other words, the media, the police, and everyone else are as institutionally racist as society itself. And until society accepts that it is genuinely racist in its thinking, nothing is really going to change.

qwghlm makes this point in a tad more detail than I do, but hey I’ve been busy and snowed under.