Racial prejudice affects black-skinned people even more than brown-skinned or other races. As a second-generation Indian immigrant to the UK, I can see that. Black people are arrested more often for not doing anything wrong, and employed less often when they have the same qualifications. But what bothers me equally are the inept responses to racism we’re seeing around us. We must take racism very seriously, but token and misguided responses. don’t help Here are some examples and why they don’t work:

  1. Defacing and destroying national monuments

Although these actions are not those of the majority of anti-racist demonstrators this has become a major topic in the news, so let’s deal with it. My guess is that if you examine the statues of famous men and women in almost any country you will find aspects of all of their lives, or comments they made, which are now judged unacceptable, but in their own time were not. We can’t pull then all down. Moreover, tearing down monuments seems to come from a desire to impose a single narrative on this country – racial oppression – when in fact that narrative is just one of many narratives.

Black lives matter - statues

  1. Jumping onto a “WETOO” bandwagon

There has been a spate of brands rushing to prove that they care about racial injustice. This is best depicted in a satirical tweet I saw recently (note “elide” here means to ignore).

Black lives matter tweet

And who can blame them? Edelman, the public relations consultancy, conducted a poll in the last few days. This showed that 60% of Americans will now buy from or boycott a brand based on the brand’s response to the George Floyd killing. (Among black consumers that figure rises to 80%). Add to that the economic downturn, and some brands are falling over each other to show support for anti-racist demonstrations, any old way they can.

60% of Americans will now buy from or boycott a brand based on the brand’s response to the George Floyd killing

  1. Organising politically correct but badly thought out training

There is now great anxiety of offending minorities, and ordinary white folks genuinely fear saying the wrong thing and being branded racist. Unfortunately, that has led to some absurd over corrections, (not least the recent attempt by the BBC to ban the “don’t mention the war” episode of Fawlty Towers).

One example from many: At a racial awareness training event for ministers, we were given a list of common English phrases including: black-sheep, black-look, black as thunder, Black Friday … etc and asked to discuss racist connotations. My comment to the course-leader was that there were no racist connotations until we came onto this course. They WERE just English phrases. These phrases are not offensive, but if you insist they are, by repeatedly proposing the idea (to people afraid of saying the wrong thing), eventually you will succeed, and they will become unacceptable. Then of course the extreme far right (yes, racists!) become fuelled because the language they know is being censored.

  1. Refusing to see the racism in myself (whichever race I am from)

It’s easy to be a determined anti-racist when you live in a white bubble where everybody looks like you. These days I too live in a middle-class white town, but it’s different from the town I grew up in, Blackburn. Blackburn is a working town in Lancashire which in the seventies and eighties was largely white. Today, however, the town is approx. one-third Asian Muslim, and some areas have become exclusively Muslim. Unsurprisingly the shops have changed to adapt to Muslim consumers, many local pubs have closed from lack of business, and my old High School is now an Islamic College for girls. Many of the white friends I went to school with have moved out to areas outside the town. Does that make them racist? Or do they simply want to live with shops, pubs, and schools as they knew them?

Black lives matter Blackburn

Shops and Mosques in Whalley Range, Blackburn

If the face of your town were transformed like Blackburn’s, how would you feel?  Sometimes it’s easier to get angry about incidents to do with the police in America than holding ourselves to account.

It’s easy to be anti-racist when you live in a white bubble where everybody looks like you

How then should we respond?

Racial prejudice is part of the history of many western nations. They competed to dominate populations around the world, and somehow that mindset can linger on. But let’s start not by fixing the world but by examining ourselves, and dealing with undiscovered racism within us – ask yourself the Blackburn question above.

Secondly, it’s right to own up to this country’s colonial past. We should express regret for the fact that most of us live in western towns and cities that benefitted (and may still benefit) from exploitation and enslaving of other nations. More importantly, it’s right to try to repair damage done. That means finding peaceful ways to voice our opinions and ensuring that as far as we can, as nations and as individuals, we deliberately buy fairly-traded goods and clothes from developing nations. (Wouldn’t it be something if 60% of us would buy from or boycott a brand based  on the brand’s treatment of workers and farmers in developing countries?) It will surprise some to learn that there are more people in slavery and being trafficked today in 2020 than in any past century. Few seem to be demonstrating or pulling down statues for present-day victims of slavery. Their lives must matter too.

And lastly, we need to see that there are other forms of discrimination besides race. Some years ago a young lad in our church youth-club called me an effing p***i (Pakistani descent – although I am ethnically Indian). I shrugged it off as his ignorant attempt to wind me up, but leaders in the church were outraged and kicked him out of our club forever. Now, what he said was unacceptable and needed to be dealt with, but it was no worse than if he had based his insult on, say, body weight, sexuality, or disability. If he had made one of those insults I doubt he would have been kicked out. I should have said so at the time but I regret I failed to. There seems to be an assumption that racist insults are worse than other insults based on identity, In fact, they are all unacceptable.

slavery in 2020

This article was also published by Premier Christianity
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Chevaaan Seresinhe
Chevaaan Seresinhe
20 days ago

This is a great read. One of the most balanced blogs I have read about a topic that’s a minefield! IMO racism — the sense of superiority over others — is a trait deeply ingrained in human DNA. From early Roman and Egyptian civilisations – to perhaps even when Homo sapiens attacked the Neanderthals! Black Lives Matter is a noble cause, but sadly it has been high jacked by anarchists who are infatuated with statues for some reason! Ironically the anarchist “do-gooders” have turned a blind eye to modern-day slavery. I must admit I was not aware — until I… Read more »

Ian Mason
Ian Mason
6 days ago

This is a great read. I recently heard that Shaun Wallace who is on the chase, is actually a barrister by training. He came out of Liverpool Crown Court and was stopped by the police and they said to him — “You look resemble someone who has been involved in a burlary” He replied. I have just come from the Crown Court. He was asked what he had been there for. Shaun replied I am a qualified barrister, and in my bag are my gown and wig. He opened his bag and showed those to the officer. the officers face… Read more »

Amis C.
Amis C.
16 days ago

Hard to comprehend the whole movement, at least in the US. https://www.statista.com/statistics/585152/people-shot-to-death-by-us-police-by-race/. (Couldn’t hyperlink the link on the phone, sorry!)
Knowing some of these facts might surprise some of us to the point where one may think, is it really what it is? Any response is unhelpful and inappropriate when you are sailing against the winds except point no.4?

David Brewer
David Brewer
18 days ago

Just read your blog — as balanced and incisive as ever. Thank you!

Peter
Peter
19 days ago

Good article Chris.

Christine Disney
Christine Disney
20 days ago

I come from a working class home. Class tends not to be mentioned now but when I was young if you didnt have the right accent you were looked down upon. As well as getting great wealth from slavery. This nation got rich off the backs of the working class. Working long hours in mills and down mines etc. Children were lucky if they lived to the age of five. Child labour was the norm. If you could no longer work you went to the workhouse. An inhuman institution. Children were separated from parents. Husbands from wives. So they couldn’t… Read more »

Cathy Buntin
Cathy Buntin
20 days ago

Thanks for this Chris this is the most sensible well put together thoughts and views on racism over the last few weeks and it’s very constructive and thank you for sharing it with me and opening my eyes to a completely different viewpoint from that of the media. One thing that has been totally overlooked is that George Floyd had committed an offence which rightly needed to be dealt with but not in the way it was.

Mart
Mart
20 days ago

A well thought out and helpful article again Chris Many thanks

Merrilyn Williams
21 days ago

Well said, Chris. I abhor racism; equally I loathe the violence that has evolved in the name of Black Lives Matter. Of course they do! We are all human beings, created in the image of God. But like you, I wish there were more of an outcry about the slavery taking place in 2020. Today’s news showed that rubber gloves, made for the NHS and most other parts of the world — in Malaysia I believe — are the product of appalling circumstances. Workers being made to do 12 hour shifts plus overtime for £1 per hour, and living in… Read more »

Anon
Anon
21 days ago

Probably best not to jump on the topical bandwagon Chris . As Christians we know our responsibility and are not racist , let’s carry on fulfilling the great commission and not do what the media , footballers and others do