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Everyday racism: what should we do?
Racism is a business. For centuries, it has underpinned global economic exploitation,
And like any successful business idea it needs great marketing, PR and advertising to ensure
lasting success. And that marketing affects everyone.
Let me give you an example. I remember a few years ago, after having just finished a tour,
I was paying in some cash in at the bank - we’d done quite well on merchandising. Next to
me at the counter another young Afro-Caribbean male, similarly dressed, was also paying in
quite a large sum of money. Surprisingly, my first thought was one of suspicion: ‘Hmm,
I wonder what he does for a living’.
Yes. Even though I know that working class, young black men do not control the multi-billion
dollar global drug industry, the connection between people who look like me and drug dealing
has been seared into my mind thanks to a lifetime of advertising campaigns like this.
These images feed a culture of racial assumptions that produce micro aggressions that I’m
going to call ‘everyday’ racism. Now, in the context of global injustice, these
might seem trivial but in fact, these daily hostilities lay the ground for much larger,
systemic violence.
Everyday racism is the normalised experiences that we encounter daily based on our difference
from the white norm. Take being stopped and searched by the police age at 12 - what would
be the first of many times. People shouting nigger or coon from a car windows on trips
to Romford during my time playing for West Ham as a schoolboy. Regularly being asked
if I have drugs to sell or to pay upfront for black cabs or being sarcastically asked
by a tutor when I attended the Royal Institution's mathematics masterclasses how many of the
‘tribe’ I was bringing to the family celebration day. I could go on - and I’ve left out the
hard stuff.
Constantly feeling like a suspect leads to the kind of shame that pathetically makes
me take the bass out of my voice or attempt to make myself smaller when I’m in a lift
alone with a white woman.
In the world of a whitened Jesus and Hollywood’s white saviour motif, the idea that white is
right has taken root globally to the degree where skin bleaching has become a global multibillion-dollar
industry. According to the World Health Organisation, 40% of Chinese women bleach their skin. And
77% of Nigerian women - the world’s highest percentage. And it’s not just those two countries.
Millions of humans literally pouring bleach onto their skin to try and be whiter.
Normalised insanity.
Of course this internalisation is how effective advertising works; major brands become etched
into your psyche and the system that sells racism is doing a fantastic job. For example,
I've visited countless schools and again and again seen children of African origin get
embarrassed when saying their own ‘foreign’ sounding names, even at schools with predominantly
black and Asian pupils. I am yet to see a child called Tim or Paul laugh in shame as
they introduce themselves.
Yet racism seems to be one of the only problems that some people, conveniently, believe we
can solve without first analysing its cause and then plotting its destruction, as any
concerned doctor would with any other disease.
We cannot let ourselves be bullied into being silenced for fear of ‘playing the race card’
and whilst we must not conflate every act of prejudice with structural white supremacy,
we must recognise the relationship between top-down propaganda and the bias that we carry.
Fighting prejudice both in society and within ourselves is a key part of the search
for justice.
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Everyday racism: what should we do? Akala | Comment is Free

25180 Folder Collection
Rosalyn Kate published on July 31, 2015
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