Suzanne Moore: Racism works by denying the presence of race, the privilege being to not notice it

So if I deny the very concept of race, insisting that we’re all just human beings of interestingly different melanin levels, I am therefore a racist because I deny race?


24 comments on “What?

  1. Ah, having read the whole heap of drivel, I see what she’s trying to say (and clearly failing to communicate).

    If you don’t explicitly acknowledge racism in everything you do, then you are being racist. Hence Lily Allen saying something along the lines of “this was a video about sexism not about racism” is, by having the privilege not to be about racism, implicitly racist.

    Equally, everything the LHTD writes is, not just drivel, racist drivel. Because he (as far as I’ve read) never acknowledges racism in his demands for tax ‘equality’ or ‘justice’.

    And, so was your previous post – because you did acknowledge the racism obvious, nah explicit, the the Western neo-liberal concept of debt.

  2. Okay, as well as the obvious double ‘the’ and the spell-dis-checker turning ‘nay’ into the moderately appropriate but not as good ‘nah’, Tim actually “did not acknowledge” …

    One sentence, so many errors.

  3. I think SE has it. Tim, you are thinking old fashioned racism, which was “those guys are niggers therefore I will hate on them”. Since there are so few of those left to be the target of leftie group hate, the leftie group hate needs to be directed at the position that race is (largely) meaningless, social construct etc. Especially as the “race is meaningless” position denies anyone the opportunity to be victimised on racial grounds.

  4. She gets extra points for quoting Simone de Beauvoir.

    Anyway, when someone is reduced to describing their Great and Terrible enemy in terms so abstract that hardly anyone knows what it is, the odds are good that they are bullshitting.

    Have to keep the gravy train spinning, you know.

  5. I can’t get to the main body of the article after this: the privilege being to not notice it .

    Yeah, yeah, I’ll check my pedantry…

  6. I noticed the word “race” in the Tel today. It concerned the prescribing of medicines according to gender (it meant sex) and race (it meant …. well, what can it possibly have meant?).

  7. This is the natural progression of a process that started during the Macpherson show trial – err, I mean “inquiry” – into the Stephen Lawrence business.

    There they declared that the ‘colour blind’ approach to race relations was ‘flawed’, thus ensuring that the equality industry could carry on beefing up their pension plans for another twenty years.

    After all, as JamesV says, they can’t have people going around treating their fellow humans equally regardless of colour can they? Won’t someone think of the diversity advisors!?!?

  8. She confesses “I naively thought we had reached the point where we did think we had to represent someone more than just privileged white women.”
    This is what feminism has been about for as long as I can remember [and longer - the Pankhursts wanted votes for middle-class women but not for working men and women]. Equal rights to work as lawyers or doctors until they are 65 when the factory worker was only too glad to retire five years younger than her husband. Separate taxation meant that middle-class women didn’t automatically pay surtax while working-class women looking after children (the working-class can’t afford nannies) saw a drop in their housekeeping because their husband’s net pay went down. The Grauniad is written by Polly Toynbee et al who don’t understand what real work is like.

  9. The only fixed definition of a “racist” seems to be a white person who is insufficiently neurotic about their whiteness.

  10. It’s all about the “invisible backpack”.

    Tim the nasty WASP has been given an invisible backpack full of privilege. Every success he has is a result of the head start given by those contents. A claim that he won success on his own merits and hard work (or even PARTLY on your own merits and hard work) fails to acknowledge the invisible backpack.

    The black kid who left an inner city school with no grades after completely little work, does not have the invisible rucksack to he fails. In fact he doesn’t try because he is painfully aware of the lack of a rucksack.

    That’s what she’s getting at.

    cf. Obama’s “you didn’t build this”

    Conservatives need to understand this bollocks because it’s at the root of all the identity politics.

  11. Conservatives need to understand this bollocks because it’s at the root of all the identity politics

    Identitly politics is fascinating because as well as being the veriest ballocks, it is also screamingly anti-progressive. It seems to boil down to “you are your background”. Most of the time if a public-school educated white person were to tell a black working-class kind that he would never amount to anything because he was black and working class, everyone would be rightly appalled. But if that public-school educated white person happens to work for the grauniad and pretends to be left wing then it’s fine.

  12. Sam – much in the same way as modern feminists like to tell women what pathetic helpless victims they are, oppressed by all manner of seemingly trivial things from Page 3 girls to feminine hygiene products.

    There’s a certain type of person who feels a thrilling frisson of self righteousness as they contemplate their imaginary victimhood. And it’s a much more self flattering explanation for any personal disappointments they experience than accepting that they might not be as brilliant, useful, or sexually attractive as they’d like to believe.

    No, THEY are to blame. The evil white male patriarchs and their invisible knapsacks of privilege.

    I earned my invisible knapsack by attending all the secret white male patriarch meetings and learning the secret handshake.

  13. If you are white, male and/or middle-class then you are just wrong. One can work out why later, but that’s just a formality: you can be damned for paying attention to race, not paying attention, paying the wrong sort of attention giving too much (or too little) consideration to whether or how you should be paying attention…

    Essentially, it’s like being the (caricatured!) husband in a marriage :-)

    The only way to deal with it is to have a moral code that you’re happy with and stick to it. I tried arguing once with someone that something I said wasn’t sexist, but I was damned because, whether or not it was itself sexist, there was a woman involved who had been subject to sexism by others and therefore anything which mentioned her gender must be sexism. At which point I realised that racism and sexism are, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder: you can have some influence over how you are seen, but at the end of the day by far the most important factor is the beholder themselves and what they want to see. As I can’t control that, I just do what seems reasonable to me and let them get on with it. If they want to look a gift horse in the mouth then let them.

    And as far as I’m concerned, people who want to play the victim can be like my teenaged self: mope around because some things aren’t quite the way you want them to be, or enjoy the things that are actually quite nice. I still recall the moment (on a school hike in Yorkshire) that I realised that it was in my control to enjoy it or not, as I chose.

    Of course there are many people who actually are victims, and I don’t mean to downplay that. But many people (myself included, at times) see themselves as victims for no objectively good reason.

  14. @ Steve / Pellinor

    Oh, agreed, agreed. I came to the conclusion over the last few years that I don’t actually mind if people like Suzanne Moore think I’m a racist. Because of what I do for fun (martial arts &c) I spend quite a lot of time with people from different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds and if they thought I was a racist I’d be appalled and upset and wonder what it was that I was doing wrong and how to change it. But I’m almost pleased if people like Moore do, because if they didn’t it would mean I was thinking in the same intellectually vapid and rationally arid way that she clearly does. Which would be awful.

  15. “I earned my invisible knapsack by attending all the secret white male patriarch meetings and learning the secret handshake.”

    They’d never let me into those, not alpha enough. When I tried they kicked sand in my face and went off with the pretty girls, who called me a sexist.

  16. I reckon there are lots of invisible backpacks among the Guardian staff, given the profile of their contributors – overwhelmingly white, upper middle class, private school and Oxbridge educated.

    Perhaps that’s why they are endlessly pointing out the guilt of others – projection of their own.

  17. The other way to look at Privilege is to start by saying that someone has it, and only then to work out how it manifests in this particular case.

    So if you think you’re in a non-racist, and people are being treated exactly even-handedly, then given that you have privilege the only explanation is that you are benefiting from that non-discrimination.

    If discrimination benefits you, that is clearly privilege.

    If there is none, your privilege is that this is the normal state of affairs for you.

    If it works against you, your privilege is that this is an unusual state of affairs for you and only remarkable as such

    If you are beaten to death because of your race, this is also privilege because it only happened to you and not to the rest of your family; and also of course you are privileged in not having been driven by racism to the sort of extreme violence that causes a person to beat another to death because of their race.

    In a way, looking for privilege is a very Pollyanna sort of thing. You can always find something to be happy about in any situation :-)

  18. I just largely ignore these people, and the stuff that they write. If I meet them, I laugh at them openly and mercilessly. Is that wrong?

  19. @ Pellinor
    Of course I am privileged – I inherited a fraction of my father’s talents (no sign that I inherited any of my mother’s significant but less useful, to me, talents).
    But outside the Guardian elite, most people are decent. My father’s employers had a very good sports club (to which he did not belong because he played hockey for the club where he lived) and when I was 17 I was allowed to train with their boxing section: nearly all the other guys were better than me (and those who weren’t were near enough equal) but nobody seemed to mind that I was middle-class; they all treated me as one of the group. A year later my university club had a match against them so they chose someone who they thought would only just beat me, rather than his brother who they thought might flatten me.

  20. TDK – “The black kid who left an inner city school with no grades after completely little work, does not have the invisible rucksack to he fails. In fact he doesn’t try because he is painfully aware of the lack of a rucksack. … Conservatives need to understand this bollocks because it’s at the root of all the identity politics.”

    I don’t think conservatives, with a small c, have a problem understanding this. We would all agree this is true. Young Black males come from dysfunctional families with very high rates of single parentage, with toxic yoof culture based on a glorification of gangs, drugs and violence, and a not particularly functional family culture which is all too often academically unambitious, to put it no stronger. Which is not even to mention the possibility that their genes many mean many are not well suited for studying physics at Oxbridge.

    The difference is that they (that is, the Left) blame us (ie White people) for these problems. As if every marijuana-addled thuglet would turn out to be Shakespeare if only Da Man recognised the value of Ebonics and stopped trying to force Blacks to study Wordsworth.

    In other words, they think the solution is for us to contribute to their pension funds. We, in a loose sense, tend to think the solution involves them (ie Black yoof) giving up the hate and working hard. And marrying their Baby Mommas.

  21. So if I deny the very concept of race, insisting that we’re all just human beings of interestingly different melanin levels, I am therefore a racist because I deny race?

    Denying race would be anti-science. But not racist.

    I think the logical explanation is simpler. Ms Moore thinks about race all the time. Like most in academia and on the Left (but I repeat myself), she sees racism everywhere and in everything. But the Tories are racists. Racists are really horrible people. Ms Moore knows she is a good person. One of God’s lesser angels. And therefore what she does not only cannot be racist, but must be the definition of a non-racist. Therefore everyone else is a racist.

Leave a Reply

Name and email are required. Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>