The book is about the conversations people have, but also the silences…
Absolutely. There’s an assumption that we all enter the conversation about race and racism in Britain as equals; but the point is that racism is structural and its purpose is to consolidate power. There’s a power balance at the heart of every conversation, particularly when people find themselves the only one of their race in a room full of white people. Sometimes it’s safer to stay quiet if you have a social position to protect.
And the interesting part of the conversation to have is whether the assertion is true or not.
And as far as a white bread middle aged man can give an answer. Having lived in a number of societies around the world England (I have very little direct experience of the wider Britain) is perhaps the least racist place I have experienced. And that goes double for London. That people employ, are employed by, shag, date, marry, have children with, people of other racial backgrounds is simply not something that makes any damn difference to anyone these days. Anyone here being the general run of the mill, there are always loonies in any society.
The three other societies I have direct personal experience of, the US (on both coasts), Russia and the Czech Rep (the average attitude towards Gypsies is, by UK standards, unbelievable) are vastly more racist than England. Which isn’t, I’m willing to agree, perfect, but it is better than anywhere else I’ve been.
And in the longer term the “problem” is being solved the way these islands have always solved this particular problem, from the Celts onwards. Shag until there is no meaningful difference after the generations. There was, from memory, one lovely point made in I think The G. Woman talking about her and her friends nattering away about racism in London and all agreeing about how appalling it was. Until she pointed out that among the group she was the only one whose children were not mixed race.
The next but one Marquis of Bath will be quarter Nigerian – how much integration do we need before we agree that it’s happening?