Tuesday, October 19

The atrocious Sewell report only reinforces those who want to discredit anti-racism | Race


TOAmong the first to congratulate the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities on the publication of its report were, unsurprisingly, David Goodhart of the right-wing thinktank Policy Exchange, and Birkbeck Professor of Political Science Eric Kaufmann. A 2017 working paper, titled Racial self-interest is not racism, written by Kaufmann for Policy Exchange, foreshadows many of his conclusions. In it, racism is described, paraphrasing Goodhart, as “subject to the slow mission”; we should talk less about racism because doing so is always uselessly “giving an emotional blow.”

Echoing this, the UK government commission states that “society has ‘defined racism downward'”, “broadening the meaning of racism without objective data to back it up.” The problem in overcoming “ethnic disparities” is not the continuing effect of race. – which, following its history over the past 500 years, is best understood as a form of government in which people are classified according to the interests of the powerful. Rather, it is the existence of a “strident” anti-racism that makes it possible for “any act, including those that claim to be well-intentioned, to be classified as racist”. Kaufmann applauds from the sidelines, poking fun at a “master narrative of the noble struggle of oppressed minorities and their virtuous white allies against a racist white society.”

The publication of the commission’s report is the culmination of a long campaign to discredit anti-racism. It is part of an overarching strategy, not limited to the UK, to blame those who speak out against racism for the very social divisions that they are identifying. From this perverse point of view, the people who experience, study and challenge racism, not those responsible for maintaining and reproducing it, keep it alive. All factors can be used to explain racism except race itself.

Claiming that an event, policy or action is “not racist” has become so common that, contrary to the report’s claims, it is rare to see an official recognition that racism ever occurs. “Not racism”It goes beyond the mere denial of racism; rather, racism is redefined in ways that contradict the experiences of those affected by it, experiences that are dismissed as not being objective enough to provide a reliable definition. Years of scholarship and activism are discarded and replaced by an interpretation of racism that separates you from social class, geography, and other factors, as if it is impossible to be affected by racial, economic, and place inequalities at the same time. As the late culture theorist Stuart hall said, “the race is the modality in which the class is lived”. It is impossible to neatly untangle the ways in which people are layered.

For the authors of the report, young people who insist that institutional racism continues to structure British social life will achieve nothing more than alienate the “decent center”, as if the aim of anti-racism is to appease the feelings of whites, as part an electoral strategy. As noted by the Halima Begum of Runnymede TrustThis is not a report for those who experience racism; was designed to send a message to those who believe that opposition to racism is a zero-sum struggle for recognition and resources in which whites are losing.

Racism constantly he adapts to time and place, refusing to “sit still,” as the late founder of the Institute for Race Relations Ambalavaner Sivanandan put it. In mainstream public discourse, race is strictly defined according to a biological interpretation borrowed from racial pseudoscience itself. This view, for example, generates the general opinion that it is not racist to express opposition to Muslims because “Islam is not a race.” In fact, no one is “a race” because race is a false concept, but people are racialized: they are attributed a racial meaning to their supposed inferiority, which justifies their exploitation and domination. This is seen in the practices that single them out, such as the suspicion that all Muslims are potential terrorists.

However, the report understands racism as frozen in the past and never changing. So it seems that if current racism does not accurately reflect the experiences of the report’s middle-aged authors, it is not racism. In particular, their understanding of racism is strictly based on individual economic advancement. Thus, because some members of ethnic minorities are successful in terms of income or educational attainment, the persistence of racism for some groups, including migrants and asylum seekers (the latter are not mentioned anywhere in the report) it can be effectively ignored.

The terms “non-racism” postulate that racism, if it exists, predominantly resides in the mind as, to quote Goodhart, an “irrational hatred, fear, or contempt for another group.” Because few will admit to having a “racist bone” in their body, it is easy to dismiss the much less declarative forms of racism that persist and that make those ruled by it vulnerable to “premature death”, such as the academic Ruth Wilson Gilmore explains. After all, the report’s trigger was the global protests for black lives that erupted in the wake of George Floyd’s death, amid a pandemic that continues to have a disproportionately morbid effect on the racialized poor. In the report’s account, and in that of his cheerleaders, including Brendan O’Neill of Spiked Magazine, the ongoing brutalization by the state of blacks in the United States as elsewhere, including the United Kingdom, is actually a story of “identity sects” enabled by social media for whom crying over racism is a ” salsa train “.

The fact that the report has been so welcomed by some of Britain’s staunchest opponents of anti-racism should give us a clue as to who it was actually written for. For example, O’Neill, responding to Meghan Markle’s revelations about the royal family, complained that “the British are sick and tired of being called a racist”. The Racial and Ethnic Disparities Commission comforted them by spending 264 pages saying, “Don’t worry, you’re not.” Fortunately, those of us who keep a clear eye on racism see through this.


www.theguardian.com

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