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This week white people have gone to extreme lengths to not see racism

01 Apr 2019

Associated Press has updated its style book to train journalists how to call racism, racism. It’s a damning indictment of our times when there are so many discussions about racism to be had and yet a complete reluctance from the media to report on it and label it what it is. That’s how you get neo-Nazis having a major rebrand as “alt-right” with the men leading the vitriol being profiled for choosing to wear skinny jeans and trainers rather than their toxic beliefs.

Jon Snow caused uproar by observing there was a lack of diversity at the pro-Brexit march. “It has been the most extraordinary day,” he said. “I’ve never seen so many white people in one place.” It seems Channel 4 decided that calling white people, white people, is racist. They prefer to simply be known as “people” and it’s everyone else that deviates from whiteness that is in need of additional labelling. Elsewhere, Twitter grappled with whether white privilege exists or whether black and brown people just need someone to blame.

This just in: Twitter is not actually a useful platform to have debates about privilege

#MyWhitePrivilege started trending online. What began as a thought-provoking task for white people to question “What is the most outrageous thing that you’ve gotten away with as a white person that you know damn well a black or brown person would have never gotten away with?”, was quickly hijacked by rabid right-wing users (that Twitter is awash with) accusing people of colour of blaming white people for their problems. White fragility – discomfort and defensiveness on the part of a white person when confronted by information about racial inequality and injustice – continues to be a barrier to real conversation.

African American blogger Aziz, who started the hashtag, told gal-dem he wasn’t surprised the right tried to hijack the hashtag and said he very much still got his message across because “they just came across as immature, bitter, and smelling of old mayo”, explaining the right’s “disconnection from reality” means any conversation addressing their privilege will be shot down.

“I started the hashtag because we all know that white privilege exists, and that often times white people are given the benefit of the doubt, while their black and brown country parts aren’t,” he explained, “Usually when we look at these instances it’s through either isolated experiences, studies or statistics. I wanted for folks to see how white privilege perpetuates itself on an everyday basis, and how even ‘good’ white folks will often times wield their privilege for their own benefit, and how this happens so much they may not even be aware that they are doing it.”

Keep your faux concern about Ramadan

Ramadan falls next month, and at this time many Muslims observe a less overt form of Islamophobia framed as concern for productivity or professionalism. Muslim PhD candidate Fatima Ahdash took to Twitter to express her despair at the narrative around Ramadan and Eid in the UK workplace. From her experiences at previous jobs, not at her current university, (largely within the human rights, NGO, and political consultancy industries), and from her friends’ experiences, Fatima explained how non-Muslim colleagues often present Ramadan and fasting co-workers as “’an issue’ or even as a ‘problem’ for the team to navigate.”

Fatima, whose PhD centres on the interaction between family law and counter-terrorism, told gal-dem: “The assumption seems to be that people become less productive and that the month is some sort of obstacle to achievement. That to me is really problematic. It was offensive to listen to and seemed very insensitive. I am not just a worker. I am a full human being with a spiritual life and my worth is more than my output and productivity.”

She explained that Ramadan and Eid are often used as an opportunity to express “discomfort with Islamic religious observance” that is “often couched in the benign language of ‘concern’”. She continued, saying: “I think a lot of POC, especially WOC, get subjected to radicalised forms of exclusion and marginalisation under the guise of loose terms such as ‘professionalism’ and ‘productivity’ and I think these qualms about Ramadan can be a form of that.”

Someone commented on Fatima’s post making the astute observation that year-round hangovers surely pose a much greater threat to productivity, yet are not spoken about with the same concern. Fair point.


  • Rapper, Nipsey Hussle was shot outside his clothing in LA. On Sunday, he had tweeted: “Having strong enemies is a blessing.”
  • Fans have been locked in debate after Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ was removed off the country charts in the US for not being country enough despite the rise in crossover sounds among chart-topping white country singers.
  • Racist and homophobic posters reading: “It’s great to be straight, it’s not okay to be gay. Join the KKK.” have been discovered at a high school in Wyoming, causing concern for students’ safety.
  • Us and Get Out director Jordan Peele said to the Hollywood Reporter: “The way I look at it, I get to cast black people in my movies. I feel fortunate to be in this position where I can say to Universal, ‘I want to make a $20 million horror movie with a black family.’ And they say yes…I don’t see myself casting a white dude as the lead in my movie. Not that I don’t like white dudes. But I’ve seen that movie.”
  • George Clooney is calling for a boycott of nine luxury hotels with links to Brunei following the news that gay sex and adultery would soon be punishable by death in the South East Asian country.
  • Amazon’s Alexa marked International Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31 with the voice of a transgender man who told their story when prompted by a user saying
    “Alexa, open the voice of trans”.
  • Non-binary gender booking options have been made available by United Airlines in a landmark step as passengers have the option of selecting the title “Mx.” as their title.
  • The Black Models: From Gericault to Matisse exhibition in Paris, artistic masterpieces by the likes of Manet, Picasso and Cezanne have been renamed after the overlooked black subjects featured in them for the new.
  • Sajid Javid is set to step up stop-and-search powers for the police in a bid to tackle knife-crime, overturning Theresa May’s reforms five years ago in response to reports that stop and search tactics unfairly targeted BAME groups.
  • Cherie Blair is pushing a particularly unsettling and outdated narrative around Africa, telling school children during a talk that “most African ladies’ first sexual experience is rape.” She has been accused of “usurping” the voices of African women.

Moment of the week

Two black women rocking beautiful afros, Rhianna Jones and Kerrilyn Gibson, are petitioning to Unicode for an Afro Hair Emoji or ‘Afromoji’, saying they “don’t have any emoji that represent our hair or cultural identities.” The petition has reached nearly 20k signatures, you can sign it here.

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