Last Wednesday evening, I was listening to a discussion on BBC London, radio station. The discussion was about Dave, the rapper and his standout Brit Awards performance, more so the ‘controversial’ things he had mentioned in his song like, ‘Our Prime Minister is a racist’, ‘Grenfell survivors still haven’t been re-housed’. Or the ‘poor treatment of the Windrush generation’, who ironically are the direct descendants of British enforced slavery. But let's save that discussion for another day.
My ears really perked up when one of the guest speakers, Brendan O’Neil, who was the author of the book ‘Anti-woke’, thought Dave’s performance wasn’t that interesting or controversial. Initially, I wasn’t that bothered by his thoughts or his ‘not popular’ opinion. I was bothered by his notion that people are being ‘too woke’ lately. According to Brendan, ‘it’s not helpful to the discussion to just label everything racist.’ How I rolled my eyes in the car! Yes, he was entitled to his opinion, as he kept stressing, however, what he failed to understand was the absurdity and irony behind what he was saying. The black experience has been going on since the beginning of man. Our stories, on the other hand, haven’t always been shared or presented correctly with the world in its varying forms. Over here in the UK, more so. For many years we were exposed to the Black American experience, which I think lulled the UK into a false sense of morality, telling itself, ‘at least we aren’t that bad’. Or in the words of Lawerence Fox, yeah that guy from question time, ‘we’re the least racist country in Europe!’ Maybe so, but recognise that you admit you are still racist if even just a little bit! The same goes for Mr O’Neil and being ‘too woke’, which, like being racist, is impossible to be too much or too little, you either are or you are not. And that’s what the so-called ‘woke’ movement is doing highlighting and talking about the not so great things/ problems we have in OUR society in order to make it better. Why is it that the Jewish community is not shut down in the same way when they bring up various anti-semitic problems happening in the country? But far too often the black community is being told that we ‘stop the conversation when we say the words racist’ or racism, that we need to continue the conversation by allow the other side to be heard, even if those words are… ‘piccaninnies’ with watermelon smiles?’ And these words were said by OUR prime minister!
Brendan O’Neil added into the conversation that ‘he had been on many anti-racist marches and rallies, so he understands the struggle and isn’t racist when he says the ‘word is just being used too much’. Well, that’s like the ‘ I’m not or I can’t be racist because my cousin’s neighbour is black’ argument. What the prime minister said is racist, so Dave wasn’t being ‘too woke’ he was just right! If Boris Johnson feels comfortable to use or say these racist things, then I can only assume that he is racist. You can not be a little bit racist, casually racist, jokingly racist, socially racist and not expect people to pick up on the common factor that…YOU are racist. My words for the people who are so bothered by the experiences of others are this: Please do not tell others how to feel, how to react to painful things happening to THEM. You wouldn’t like me crashing into your car and then telling you to stop overreacting. And as a bystander, if you are so annoyed by the reactions to some unfair things happening to other people, remind yourself to stop and think about the person actually going through it, imagine how they must feel, how would you feel if it were you? That’s REAL understanding.