How many times have we heard the clichéd phrase ‘I’m not racist but….’
It is only used by people who are blatantly racist and go on to make some crass generalization about a group of people who are a bit different to them.
I just want to remind myself what the term ‘racist’ actually means because it’s bandied about so liberally it’s true meaning has become obscured.
My simple definition would be judging someone on their genetic heritage, not their character.
We see someone with different skin colour, or different clothes, different beards and different outlooks and because we assume we are normal, then they are, by definition, a bit weird.
We all do it, it’s called being human.
Black people do it about white people, Asian people do it about Caucasian people and of course, white people do it about… just about everyone who isn’t white. And we have to acknowledge that when white people do it about anyone who isn't white, due to the power structures and history we live with, it has a bit of extra impact.
So, instead of saying, ‘I’m not racist but’ we should maybe modify the cliché to being, ‘I am a bit racist and’
As in, ‘I am a bit racist and I can see that it isn’t very helpful.’
‘I am a bit racist and I also accept that not every immigrant in the UK comes here to sponge of the state and get a free council house.’
‘I am a bit racist and I am trying to develop a wider view of humanity that doesn’t categorize people according to skin colour or culture, I fail at this every day but I can see the long term benefits of the internal struggle I’m putting myself through.’
If we all admitted to being a bit racist, when we read yet another pro UKIP headline in some tatty old right-wing rag screaming about immigration, we could see beyond the nationalist nonsense and question just how accurate the journalism is.
Here’s a clue.
It’s not very accurate.
It’s an opinion, an opinion from a racist who says ‘I’m not racist but.’
So lovely Mister Clarkson, who I genuinely feel sorry for at the moment, has made a bit of a boo-boo by reciting an old nursery rhyme from his childhood while on camera.
We are roughly the same age and I remember my grandma reciting the same lines to me over 45 years ago.
It’s a racist nursery rhyme, no question about it, my grandma was racist, pretty much everyone from her generation was.
I learned as a young man that using the offending word was wrong not because of the word, but because of the power relationships involved, the long and uncomfortable history white people of the UK have with Africans going back 100’s of years.
We can’t deny that history, we can’t make it go away simply by not saying a word.
We can only live with the fact that we are a bit racist but we’re trying not to be, which, to give Mister Clarkson his due, I believe he’s trying to do.
On the other hand, he did bloody say it, well he mumbled it.
He could have substituted the offending word with 'cyclist' or 'teacher' or 'social worker' or 'beardy weirdy environmentalist' or 'feminist' or any number of people he can't stand.
As Mister James May stated on Twitter, ‘what a bell end.’