I Am Racist

I wasn’t aware that I was racist until recently. I am not a monarchist and I’m certainly not a fascist. I’ve always been comfortable with the nationalised culture in which I find myself. I view everyone as equal. Hey, I really do treat everyone as equal to me. I believe in equality and that all lives matter, of course they do. I wish no harm to anyone and I help my black, brown or whatever brothers and sisters whenever I can. And there it is.

It’s subtle and it’s no big deal (to a white person). It’s hardly noticeable and it isn’t meant as an offence in any way. We all do it. Everyone does it. Don’t we? We categorise people, DNA doesn’t, we do.

We do believe that BAME people are equal to us. Our governments have always maintained that everything and everyone is equal, but they aren’t. They aren’t equal to me in so many ways. I’m better educated than most of them, I’m better off than most of them. I have more to show for the type of work I’ve done. My record, across the board, is better than theirs. I am much less likely to be stopped and searched because I live in a nice area and I’ve worked damned hard to get here. I have a nice car, it’s an old car, a classic. I use the latest tech and I enjoy it. I’m typing this on my new MacBook Pro. This morning’s breakfast is gluten free porridge with berries mixed in and coconut milk. I have an anti-oxident smoothie and ground coffee in an expresso cup. Why not? I’ve earned it.

I left school with just one O Level, the equivalent of a GCSE…I blame my mother for this, I’ve always blamed her for it. But I took myself off to college, I worked at my education and I ended up with a Masters Degree from a good university. I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and if I can do it then anyone can. And this is what I’ve been led to believe my whole life. We have been gifted opportunity and it’s there for us all…equally. Equally…

What I didn’t tell you, what nobody tells you, and why it’s not something we care to think about is that I started ahead in the game. I started with a background of middle class wealth. I started by living amongst middle class people. I didn’t have to go without. We didn’t have to choose between rent, food or warmth. My folks didn’t have to hold down two or three jobs whilst wondering if the kids were home, whilst wondering if they were dead or alive.

For hundreds of years we have kept poor people poor. We have allowed them to exist but not prosper. We have given with one hand whilst taking with the other. We have created a sub class of humans so that we don’t have to do the jobs that nobody else wants to do. These jobs are in large metropolitan inner cities and the rents there would make you shudder. Every penny they earn goes on rent OR food…they don’t have a penny for anything else. Most poor people are in our BAME communities.

It’s like asking them to play at the same card table with the same cards and the same odds but they have a stack of halfpennies when you and the other players have stacks and stacks of pound coins. Eventually, and it doesn’t take long, they will lose a hand or two and have nothing. We can afford to lose the odd hand, they cannot afford to lose one.

And this is why I am racist. If I weren’t, I would share some of what I have in my pile of coins so that we can all enjoy the game together. I would take joy in evening up the odds. It wouldn’t be a handout of my hard earned cash, it would be a human sharing of the bounty. A bounty that we think is out there and if we put in the right amount of effort, it’s available to all of us, equally. This is where racism sits. We don’t need this so called level playing field, we just need the same starting line. We started hundreds of years ago, our BAME family is yet to start.

We (white people) need to begin by taking a long hard look at the systems and institutions that keep some of us back from the starting line and we need to remove or improve them. We (white people) need to look at our history, our symbolism and our nationalism and see, for the first time, that it was largely built on the suffering of our BAME brothers and sisters.

In 1833, the British Government paid the sum of £20m reparations for slavery. The government had to borrow this amount as a loan as it represented nearly 25% of GDP. This loan was finally paid off in 2015. The reparations were paid to SLAVE OWNERS. For the next 182 years, British taxpayers paid back this loan. This means that ancestors of slaves paid tax to payback their forefather’s slave owners. That is despicable and disgusting. This money should have gone to pay the slaves, and if we had, they would be much closer to the starting line than they are today.

This is just one of many things that have kept black people enslaved. Sure they are ‘free’ but only free enough to serve us all. And this is why I am racist. I have turned a blind eye to this inequity. It’s been ok for me to look at my fellow competitors on the starting line, to see their white faces and think…yes we are pretty much all equal here. But would I trade places with a BAME person and swap my life for theirs? Of course I wouldn’t. I have turned a blind eye to inequity, to our abuses, to our privilege and to our racist history and imperial culture. And now I know that I am racist. So what shall I do? What will you do? I’m studying to become an anti-racist and this is why I know the above to be true.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

It’s Just One Big Game

What if…

It’s 2016 and I’ve been commissioned to create a new game. Money is no object. It has to be lifelike and it has to be easy to use by anyone and everyone. My clients insist on retaining their anonymity. The game is simple but must contain three key elements:

Money

The ability to control all money. The money supply. How and where it is spent. What value it holds. Where it is held and what form it takes. It’s just numbers on a screen. Money comes in and money goes out. Once in awhile, there’s a random game levy to pay. Sometimes it goes wrong, there’s a mistake, money disappears and then as if by magic, it returns again. Your ultimate value to society is defined by the array of numbers flickering at you. Everything is connected to everything else in the game. It’s just a game, right? It can just be digital money. There’s no need for real cash anymore. Money isn’t real in the game.

People

Who is in the game? There are the Players and there are the People.

The Players are playing the game. The Players make the decisions. The Players set the boundaries and the Players make the rules. They control everything that happens. Whatever is at stake amongst the Players, it’s a winner takes all kind of game. The Players can see the People but only a handful of People ever get to see the parts of the game that the Players use to disrupt the game.

The People don’t know they’re in a game. The People are just pieces at play in the game itself. They do life as though they are free to do what they want. They live amongst each other. They form social groups, alliances, allegiances and societies. They are allowed to form societies that have both leaders and low-lives. These parameters have been set up for them. They can buy things, sell things, communicate with each other, build families and earn money. It’s not real money, it’s just numbers on a screen. They call it currency but in reality its a simple medium of exchange.

Game World

A place of infinite wonder. Created by a simple vision that took many years to evolve into the Game World it is now. Perfecting itself over and over as the developer imagined new and wonderful vistas. It appeared to be a soft and gentle place. There were, however, some hidden dangers amongst the hills and valleys. Communities bordered the wide open spaces. It was amongst these communities where the most danger lay. The longer the game went on, the more dangerous Game World became.

The Players each held Game World disruptors that they could play at any time. War, famine, disease, greed, hatred, poverty, fires, flood…there were many disruptors that the Players could introduce as in game plays. They just had to pick one of the most powerful people, one of the most influential and connected people, the person that they thought would channel the disruptor to achieve its greatest impact for the Player. The disruptor affects every part of the game. Players could only use their disruptors once in every session of Game World.

What if it’s 2019 and I’m already just one of the people in the Game World session…?

Photo by Mehrdad Haghighi on Unsplash