Saturday, 24 December 2011

Have yourself a multicoloured Christmas

(if that’s not a racist thing to say)

Why do only small children and middle aged men wear Christmas jumpers?

Grandma’s favourite Alan Hansen got into trouble for talking about “coloured” football players this week. Rohan Ricketts (a Shamrock Rovers player ) jumped onto twitter to correct him – “we’re BLACK!” and yet again, race is an issue. 

Is this reaction oversensitive? Maybe, although I think I too would be a little oversensitive if I had to put up with the amount of hassle the average black person gets on a day to day basis. Many white people don’t realise how much racism is still horribly prevalent in society today because we happily and obliviously allow it to float over our heads. Anyone remember that documentary about traffic wardens only a few years ago? People who appeared at first glance to be quite normal (ie, not knuckle-dragging chavs) would react to getting a ticket by telling black wardens to “get back to the jungle”. Yes, really. 

But what is the difference between the apparently offensive term “coloured” and the Ultra-PC-Halle-Berry-Oscar-speech-approved “people of colour”? Apparently “coloured” is offensive because “it makes all non-white people sound the same”. But doesn’t “Black” do the same? It doesn’t exactly hint at the myriad shades from cafe au lait to toffee to chocolate and ebony. 

If someone referred to me as “beigey-pink with yellowish tones” would I retort “I’m WHITE!”? When actually, “beigey-pink with yellowish tones” is a more accurate description of many “white” people’s skin colour? But what if “beigey-pink with yellowish tones” was an old fashioned term, and therefore associated with a time when abuse for “white” people was common? What then? Oh, I’m in a muddle. But I’m still not entirely convinced that it’s helpful for any of us when using an old-fashioned term without malice gets a headline “Racist!” response. 

Sorry I haven’t been very festive today. To cheer us all up, here is a picture of a black Santa. (I think it’s kind of bizarre and disturbing that only white kids get to see Santa with a skin tone that matches theirs.) Seeing Santa (not to mention God) as an old white man with a long white beard... it’s a bit unimaginative, isn’t it? 

❄❄❄Merry Christmas! ❄❄❄


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