The racism we must fight to end is not just on screen – it’s entrenched, unseen

ACTOR Will Smith said: “Racism isn’t getting worse, it’s getting filmed.”

It’s a quote that’s gained traction this week following the horrifying footage of George Floyd begging “I can’t breathe” as a white US policeman pressed his knee on his neck.

But Smith first said it back in 2016, along with the observation that: “When the truth comes out [about systemic racism] and it gets on the table, you have to confront what’s real. It sucks.”

Yet, four years on, here we are, still shocked by the sight of someone being murdered for the colour of their skin and wondering why things haven’t changed. The answer, of course, is that after every racist event caught on film, everyone expresses outrage, protests break out then, eventually, the majority of well-meaning, white privileged souls forget all about it until the next travesty is thrust before us.

In between times, we don’t tackle the issue that, time and again, leads to these shocking events . . . the insidious racism that can’t be captured on film.

Four years ago, a review by the Equality and Human Rights Commission looked at race inequality in education, health, employment, housing, pay and criminal justice and found an “alarming picture”.

Black people in England and Wales are four times more likely to be a victim of murder than those who are white, unemployment rates are “significantly higher” for ethnic minorities, black workers with degrees earn 23.1 per cent less on average than white employees with the same qualifications and ethnic minorities are still “hugely under-represented” in positions of power.

And the racial inequality in the US is reportedly even worse than it is here.

George Floyd’s murder is a shocking event, but for an example of the insidious racism that the BAME community face day in, day out, look no further than the conscious bias displayed by the woman in New York’s Central Park last month.

Asked politely to put her dog on a lead, Amy Cooper called the police in an escalated tone to say she felt threatened by the “African American” man asking her to do it.

Genuine outrage

If the man had simply told that story, some might have suggested he’d imagined her racial bias. But as it was recorded on a phone, it was there, in black and white (how apt) for all to hear.

US author Scott Woods said this week: “The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that.

“Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not . . . it’s a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it.”

So this time, let’s hope the flame of the white population’s genuine outrage doesn’t burn out after a few online posts of solidarity while, yet again, the can gets kicked down the road by those in authority.

It’s not just the blatant acts of racism we need to act upon, it’s the unseen, entrenched racism too.

Bloke's frosty reception

PLEXIGLASS shields could be the solution that allows restaurants to re-open.

The Plex’Eat bubble, by designer Christophe Gernigon, hangs over your chair and has an opening at the back and the front is large enough to give space for eating while being protected from any potential Covid infection.

“Look,” I commented cheerfully to The Bloke, “we’ll be able to go out for dinner soon.”

Charming as ever, he fired back: “Can I get my shield frosted?”

Reopened IKEA's hot property

FURNITURE giant Ikea reopened its doors across the country this week and the queues to get in were around a mile long. Customers said they faced a three-hour wait in the snaking, socially-distanced queue around the car park before they could get their mitts on a Billy bookcase.

So while they might not have contracted the coronavirus, presumably quite a few got heatstroke in the process.

Cash in where JK wanders

AUTHOR Ernest Hemingway appears to have been impressively ubiquitous in his social habits.

In Key West, in southern Florida, just about every bar lays claim to him being a regular and it’s the same story in the Cuban capital of Havana.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has sparked the same desire to be associated with her success.

In York, a street called the Shambles claims to be the inspiration for Diagon Alley, a shop in Porto, Portugal, is said to have shaped depictions of Hogwarts, pub-goers in Exeter reckon The Leaky Cauldron is based on the city’s Firehouse pub and The Elephant House cafe in Edinburgh is widely thought to be the birthplace of the boy wizard, i.e. where she first started writing the books.

But JK has now let it be known that she created Harry long before she ever set foot in the cafe, says she has never ever been to the Shambles and that the true birthplace of Harry – as in first putting pen to paper – is a small, nondescript flat above a shop in Clapham Junction, South London. Where, no doubt, one very happy owner is now ordering a blue plaque and enjoying a three-fold boost in the property’s value.


APPARENTLY, the colour black is “on trend” for this summer.Who comes up with this nonsense?

Presumably it’s driven by various fashionistas who decide which colour is “in” purely on the basis that it’s significantly different to 2019’s “must-have” hue (yellow, as you ask) otherwise consumers might, shock horror, wear last season’s outfits instead of buying new ones.

'Property advice'

THIS, apparently, is former Love Island contestant Megan Barton Hanson being given “property advice” by developer Harry Fenner.

Well, that’s what he’s reportedly told his distraught wife, who Megan says she knew nothing about and, consequently, has now dumped him.

Whatever, it can now join the ever-increasing list of famous excuses that have us all stroking our chins sceptically and saying, “really?”

Dominic Cummings testing his eyesight on a trip to Barnard Castle is another, as is Prince Andrew’s: “I was at Pizza Express in Woking,” Jeremy Corbyn being “there but not involved” at the wreath-laying next to a terrorist’s grave, and former Secretary of State for Wales Ron Davies “watching badgers” at a well-known cruising spot. It reminds me of the 2004 incident when actor Kevin Spacey was mugged in a London park at 4.30am and said he was there because: “My doggy had to go.”

I commented in this very column that perhaps, when his pet wanted a wee in future, he could just open the back door like everyone else. The next day I was hit with a squillion-page lawyer’s letter threatening legal action and pointing out, among many other things, that Mr Spacey lived in a block of flats and did not, therefore, have a back door.

Presumably, as we haven’t seen him on our screens for a while, Kevin is still trapped in that doorless building now.

Future King on the ball

THE documentary Football, Prince William And Our Mental Health (on BBC iPlayer) proves that he’ll make a fine king when his time comes.

When asked about becoming a father, the royal admitted it had brought back emotions “in leaps and bounds” over his mother’s untimely death, but that his wife Kate had supported him through it.

No mention of his brother Harry.

A sign, perhaps, that they’re not only geographically thousands of miles apart now, but emotionally too.

Views, not news

PERHAPS, forthwith, BBC2’s once impeccably impartial Newsnight should be renamed Viewsnight?

#MeToo's impact

ACTRESS Reese Witherspoon says that every woman she’s worked with in the past three years – including Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Aniston – has remarked how things have changed since the #MeToo Harvey Weinstein scandal.

She adds: “We’ve all noticed how we are now put into a position of respect for our ideas.”

Good to know. Now let’s hope that every powerful woman in this brave new world reaches down to pull up those who had the courage to put their careers on the line and speak out at a time when so many of their peers remained silent.


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