Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race

 A provocative title and cover, but not entirely true.  At one time she despaired of getting white people to understand racism.  But in fact she does present a good case and even suggests how you (if you are a white person) might alleviate your guilt feelings.

 I finished this book on the same day of the aftermath of England's loss in the Euro Cup.  Some will be forgotten by the time this post is read.  The game was an even match through regulation time and then through extra time until the shootout.  Shootouts are notoriously unpredictable.  There is a guessing game between the shooter and the goalie and shots have been known to hit the goal post or fly way above and many capable players have failed.  But three English black players failed.  This was too much for many English "fans" who berated the three black players on Twitter and vandalized billboards.  The three had all helped England to reach the finals

Most of what has reached my attention on racism has been based in United States and Canada.  In fact, the English were the ones that brought Africans to British North American plantations as well as throughout the Caribbean.  The English supported the slave trade, but mostly in their colonies.  Surprised to learn that captured slaves (I suppose like any other "commodity") could be insured while being transported, although dead bodies were thrown overboard.

In 1833 it is sometimes boasted the English outlawed slavery, but they paid compensation to 46,000 British slaveholders.  After WWII Britain needed more cheap manpower and invited many from their Commonwealth base.  Many blacks from the Caribbean heeded the call.  Resistance was both individualistic and organized. 

To satisfy complaints of discrimination, governments have set up quotas to favor certain groups such as minority races or women.  Reni contends that although quotas are often viewed as an unfair leg up, it is really being "white" that has given many an unfair leg up.  Those hoping to achieve higher political office slyly draw attention to the many immigrants and avoid drawing attention to the concentration of wealth that in reality is what holds back native Britons. 

Immigration is upsetting to many citizens.  Unfortunately there are many forces that cause an increase.  Underlying is probably the uneven distribution of wealth, but also of resources and of freedom.  Brexit was in large part a reaction to immigration.  The Arab spring sparked a big movement, particularly from Syria.  Most European nations had some sort of resistance while Germany opened its doors.  The author pointed out a political movement in Finland that wanted women to turn from education to being home makers producing more young Finns so there would be no need for immigrants.

When this book was first published 2017 it created a stir with many people criticizing the title and content, without actually reading it.  The soft cover version came out in 2019 and recounted some of the initial reaction.  Similar to how the Republicans are stirring up hatred against Critical Race Theory without actually understanding what it refers to.   

While attempting to polish this post I also watched "I Am Not Your Negro" (1960)   Director Raoul Peck decided to pick up on a James Baldwin unfinished book, "Remember This House" which was intended to discuss the struggles of blacks in America.  James Baldwin speaks from a number of film clips.  Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr started with opposite views on violence, but modified  before each of them was assassinated.  Medgar Evers as another black man who was assassinated.   We were shown lynched victims and opposition to blacks entering previously all white schools.  Apparently Robert Kennedy was invited to take part, but thought his participation would be meaningless.  Raoul and James thought otherwise.  A common refrain from segregationists was that black rights could be equated with Communism.   Samuel L. Jackson did some of the narration and an extra revealed him to be a lot more that how he is generally depicted in his movie roles.  The film had been nominated for an Oscar and does provide interesting insights that are still relevant today. 

Another post on racism:

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