Jesus (and I mean Juheeesus!) Shitting Christ.
The UK is 100% racist. Stormzy was 100% right. Even though that’s not actually what he said, he was still 100% right.
And nobody is talking about it! Apart from to categorically deny it at the same time as telling black people who are talking about racism to shut the fuck up and be grateful for what they have… which is hella racist.
Just over a week into 2020 and the nation couldn’t help but ejaculate a month’s worth of pent up prejujizz all over itself.
Meghan Markle and her husband announced that they were stepping back as senior members of the royal family. And that was enough. That was enough to see the UK’s collective pants well and truly shat in a racially intolerant tantrum.
Before I properly get into this, I feel like a little context is required, so please, if you will…
At the age of 12, Meghan Markle’s husband, Prince Harry, had to walk through the streets of London behind a hearse carrying his mother’s dead body, while the entire world watched him do so on TV. At the age of 12.
Harry’s mother, Princess Diana, had been killed in a crash as she was chased through a tunnel in Paris by paparazzi. These photographers then took pictures of her while she was dying in the back seat.
In a BBC documentary, Harry’s brother William remembered that in the years before Diana’s death, photographers would wait in packs every time she went out.
“And I mean a pack, like a pack of dogs, followed her, chased her, harassed her, called her names, spat at her, tried to get a reaction to get that photograph of her lashing out, get her upset.”
I have no particular love for the royal family. I understand that the very nature of their lives means that they have to be lived in full view of the public. I also appreciate that they are more than handsomely compensated for that with nice new curtains, a never ending supply of free money, and not having to ever worry about going to jail for, you know, crimes.
This is far from a piece about feeling sorry for Harry and Meghan, but let’s understand why he, in particular, might have an issue with press intrusion.
On to Meghan Markle.
Meghan Markle’s problem is that she’s brown.
Now I imagine you’re already rolling your eyes and muttering something about the race card – a bit like Lord Gammon himself, Piers Morgan, who wrote on twitter:
“This ‘it’s all racism’ defence of Meghan is so wrong & such a disgraceful smear on the British people who welcomed our first mixed-race royal with huge enthusiasm. Her racial background is not why she’s been criticised.”
And if you can’t bring yourself to agree with Piers, don’t worry, The Sun has got you covered:
“We are sick, though, of woke morons crying racism over press criticism of Meghan and Harry. It is ludicrous to conflate racist abuse on social media with legitimate newspaper scrutiny. The Sun always liked Harry, despite our ups and downs. We could not have been keener on Meghan or happier for them…”
Indeed, some of their best headlines are black.
Like come on though, for real? Let’s take a nostalgic look back at some of our favourite bits of ‘legitimate newspaper scrutiny’.
Like the time Megahn Markle touched her baby bump while pregnant.
Or the time Meghan Markle wore make up wrong.
Or the time Meghan Markle wore a dress wrong.
Or that other time Meghan Markle wore a dress wrong.
Or that time when Meghan Markle’s Avocado habit fuelled terrorism.
So if we’re honest about it, the pair’s decision to protect themselves and their family from an intrusive, hostile, racist press, hell bent on tearing them – and by them, I mean Markle in particular – down, is pretty goddammed reasonable really.
The response from the intrusive, hostile, racist press, hell bent on tearing them – and by them, I mean Markle in particular – down was as predictable as it was obvious as it was inherently racist. And it proved Meghan and Harry’s exact fucking point with the clarity of a Masterchef The Professionals consommé
“I’ve never met Meghan but I look at her and think ‘I don’t think I’d like you in real life.'” offered former voice of Biggleton, Eamonn Holmes, later describing her as “uppity”.
Meghan’s Grandmother-In-Law “had to suffer the repulsively rude indignity of being treated like a piece of insignificant dirt by her own spoiled brat grandson and his scheming, selfish D-list actress wife,” wrote Piers Morgan, a man who with unswerving regularity likes to soil himself for attention.
There’s loads more and I can’t be bothered to write them out here. Just fucking google it, yeah?
Where’s the racism though?
“But you’re still not explaining why any of this is racist!” I hear you weep with a slightly muffled voice as you rock back and forth, cradling your golliwog.
Look, you can point to all of these sorts of comments and say, “well, yeah, Shit-pants Morgan is right, where’s the racism?” And then when someone comes along and points out that the sustained, disproportionate, and downright unnecessary attacks aimed at this woman of colour might be indicative of an underlying culture of structural, systemic racism, you think “fuck’s sake, not this again, why do you always have to play the race card?”
First of all, you’re misunderstanding what racism actually is. When someone accuses people of racism for having a go at Meghan Markle, they’re not necessarily talking about calling her racist names. That would be obviously racist and no discussion would be needed (you’d think).
We need to explore the differences between prejudice, racism, and discrimination, which I can’t remember if I’ve written about in other posts, but will do so properly at some point.
“Racism isn’t about individual actions, although individual actions can be racist. Racism is a system.”
In short though, prejudice is the way we pre judge (duh!) people based on the social groups they belong to. We ALL do this ALL the time.
Discrimination is action based on this prejudice. So either overt (like violence) or more subtle (crossing the street to avoid someone you don’t like the look of which actually now that I think about it isn’t that subtle at all) actions.
Racism, however, is prejudice and discrimination PLUS the institutional power to maintain those forms of discrimination in more structural forms. Racism isn’t about individual actions, although individual actions can be racist. Racism is a system.
So what we’re seeing with Meghan Markle (and Dianne Abbot, as another example) is both the result of a system that allows the maintenance and reinforcement of racial prejudices and discrimination, and the fuel that keeps that shit going.
Perhaps some further explanation needed here. Race is constructed. It was invented to justify intolerable cruelty, and ideas about race have stuck. Notions of White Supremacy have persisted down through history to the point where they have become largely internalised and often unconscious.
“People of colour being elevated, or worse elevating themselves to positions of importance, challenge the ideology of White Supremacy that we’ve internalised.”
Look at all of popular culture – film, television, books, advertising, music, news – and notice the messages that continually shape our ideas about how we (all of us) see ourselves and other people. Those messages are ones that continually reinforce the superiority of whiteness.
- White people are Hannibal and Face; Black people are BA Baracas
- White people are Kelly Kapowski; Black people are Lisa Turtle.
- White people are Ray, Egon, and Peter; Black people are Winston friggin’ Zedmore.
While White Supremacy might conjure up images of the KKK or those involuntarily celibate ass-hats in Charlottesville, it’s actually just an ideology that we have ALL been conditioned to accept and operate within on some level.
What the fuck has any of this got to do with Meghan Markle? Well just look at the level of vitriolic abuse that she, as a woman of colour in a position of privilege, has received from our press.
And that’s the kicker. It’s not necessarily about her being brown. It’s about that dangerous combination of being brown and successful. People of colour being elevated, or worse elevating themselves to positions of importance, challenge the ideology of White Supremacy that we’ve internalised.
It’s why white people so often bristle at the idea of Black History Month, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, the success of Black Panther, and black athletes like Colin Kaepernick, or Serena, or Lebron having political opinions.
It’s why people like Stormzy, Lewis Hamilton, and Raheem Sterling are constantly vilified for doing entirely mundane things or for daring to have opinions.
Black advancement is a threat because it disrupts internalised notions of either conscious (if you’re racist) or unconscious (if you’re not) white superiority.
The very idea of a mixed-race woman being allowed to become part of the royal family is the ultimate kick in the penis for ideas about white superiority. I won’t go into colourism or misogynoir in this post but if she’d been a few shades darker, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. There’s not a chance.
The Race Card
Accusing someone of ‘playing the race card’ is another form of either knowingly or unknowingly propping up racism. You’re basically saying to anyone mentioning racism, “I’m not interested in hearing what you have to say because I know all I need to know about racism. And more than that, my opinion as a white person (because it’s always white people) is more important than anything you have to say. There’s nothing to discuss here.”
And with that, you’re effectively preserving and perpetuating a racist system by shutting down voices who are attempting to highlight racial injustice. Characterising them as whiny, ungrateful… fuck it, like Eamonn said, “uppity”, is essentially rendering their voices unimportant.
You, as the white person, are declaring that you are determining the terms and conditions under which racism can be discussed, thus ensuring the continuation of your position of privilege and power within a racist system.
It’s “unfair” and “disgraceful” that white people should be attacked in such a way that they’re accused of racism, right? You won’t stand for it. If anything, you’re the victim for being accused of racism!
Robin Diangelo talks about the notion of White Fragility as a form of bullying and racial control – a way of maintaining ideas about White Supremacy. And that’s exactly what’s happening here.
Basically having massive fucking fit of the vapours when any talk of racism is mentioned is a way of saying backdafuckup and get back in your place.
Now. If you genuinely see yourself as someone who isn’t racist, ask yourself why it might be that you’re so unwilling to entertain discussions about racism? Why are you sick of them, or bored of them, or don’t want to hear them? What is it that you don’t want to hear? If you genuinely think of yourself as not racist, what are you afraid of?
Because if it’s that you might find out something about yourself or your thoughts or behaviours that you don’t like, or if you’re fearful that the way you see and experience the world isn’t actually how the world works for everyone, then you should know that being open to discovering that is a really wonderful thing.
It’s a starting point for being better and making the world a better place. There’s nothing to fear.
But only if, as you so fiercely claim, you’re not racist.