This morning I watched Piers Morgan on TV lecturing/hectoring two Black men about how what they think and experience as racism is, simply, not true in his esteemed White opinion. Piers Morgan was speaking over the men in what was meant to have been a discussion on the Raheem Sterling issue.
Good old Piers, he always thinks that he is getting the better over his studio guests but never realises that this is a rarity. Such is the curse, I guess, of over believing your self-constructed hype and then casting any old opinion on everything.
Sadly, what did Piers is no different from what lots of other White people do and that is to either shut down a discussion by a person of colour on their lived experience of racism or to select what they think is racism based on their White view.
Let me give you an example, when I talk about how I am often ignored in nice shops (boutiques) White people will tell me how it was probably because the shop assistants had not noticed me or, even worse, because I wasn’t dressed well enough to be considered a serious shopper. This is a prime example of self-selecting or censoring my lived experience of racism. Another name for it is ‘Whitesplaining’.
Racism is never a one-off act either which is what Raheem Sterling is trying to get across. It is a product of a culture of representations, stereotyping and negative framing.
The tweet at the top of this post is a prime example. Inherent in the statement is the belief that all immigrants get a free ride in the UK and that we have so-called privileges if we are people of colour. It refers to Nadiya Hussain, winner of the 2015 ‘Great British Bake Off’, who has gone on a tour of Asia to discover some of her Asian roots for a BBC programme. The tweeter implies that he could have done the same at the BBC’s expense if he had some Asian DNA. He hasn’t given a moment’s thought to the fact that Nadiya is a star because she won a national TV prize based on a talent. The tweeter has simply based his gripe based on skin colour that arises from his negative stereotyping.
Now tell me that is my imagination!
‘Whitesplaining’ aggravates and upsets people like me. To use another term it is ‘Gaslighting’. No problem can ever be solved while such psychological coercion and manipulation is used. With racism on the rise it is more imperative than ever to pay attention to what racism looks like and sounds like.
Below is an uber example of how to do this thanks to John Barnes and the BBC presenters who were respectful and interested in hearing about racism.