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Well, I dunno David, what is it like?

The reality of being black in today’s Britain
David Olusoga

What is it actually like being black in possibly the least racist society the world has ever seen?

How bad is it when an Anglo-Nigerian is a BBC producer, with a TV series and the associated book to plug?

46 thoughts on “Well, I dunno David, what is it like?”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    I feel so bad for the poor minorities in Britain. So traumatised by a cruel Imperialist history. Brutalised by an inherently racist British society. I want them to be happier. To live safely, away from racism and discrimination. I suggest Sierra Leone.

    A report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission published in August showed that black graduates in Britain were paid an average 23.1% less than similarly qualified white workers. It revealed that since 2010 there had been a 49% increase in the number of ethnic minority 16- to 24-year-olds who were long-term unemployed, while in the same period there had been a fall of 2% in long-term unemployment among white people in the same age category.

    As there is no discrimination in Britain against Blacks a naive person might suggest the causes of this are likely to be because the Black British are more likely to be 1. lazy, 2. thick, 3. unmotivated or some combination of the above. But that would be racist so no one here could believe that.

  2. So Much For Subtlety

    We must reject Occam’s razor when it does not produce politically acceptable results. For instance:

    Black people are far more often the victims of crime. “You are more than twice as likely to be murdered if you are black in England and Wales,” said the report, starkly. When accused of crimes, black people are three times more likely to be prosecuted and sentenced than white people.

    The simplest explanation for this is that Blacks are quite prone to crime. As Blacks tend to live near other Blacks, they are more likely to be victims as well as perpetrators.

    But that would be naive. We must instead use Occam’s Butterknife. It isn’t that Blacks are more criminal. It is that White people are some how magically able to get into their heads and force them to sell drugs, rape, and murder. It is Churchill’s fault innit?

  3. Liberia – the ideal society. Perhaps Mr Olusoga should relocate, given how beastly Britain is. It must be, since no one from Africa ever wants to come here. ‘The fellows in Calais,’ you say? I see no fellows; they have all happily settled elsewhere in France.

  4. The guy was right about the War being a long lasting cultural influence on kids, and a bit awkward for the fact 40s British cities not quite the same as 70s ones. But the problem is you can’t start history from when your own hues turn up on the scene. And history is a pretty important part of nationhood.
    I like history. I like coming across remarkable people in the past that did amazing things and if there’s a bit of exoticism in the story then all the better usually. But I don’t find the first black person to dot dot dot .. stories interesting. Yes to the extent that there’s a general perception that history was made by white people, it’s kind of interesting to puncture that but still (in terms of european history) its quite challenging to do. I don’t much care about florence nightingale, but to the extent she was famous in her day then hey i can understand how her myth has permeated through to the present, but looking up her contemporaries who also looked after dying soldiers then establishing any with the correct dark skin tone and then telling everyone about this person, well you know it’s history but not my cup of tea. And basically that’s what Black History month is all about.

  5. Comparing graduate pay is irrelevant unless you know what they graduated in and what jobs they are doing. You also have to assume equal employment rates. It is also unclear whether this relates to the first job after graduating or whether they are just comparing people who have a degree, in which case age and length of work experience plays a part.

    So, Guardian Science then.

  6. So Much For Subtlety

    Hallowed Be – “Yes to the extent that there’s a general perception that history was made by white people, it’s kind of interesting to puncture that but still (in terms of european history) its quite challenging to do.”

    History, along with pretty much everything else, has been made by White people for the past 200 years or so. White people have been incredibly productive and interesting. Perhaps due to the improvement in diets arriving in Europe first. Whatever the cause, it is unfortunate to be non-White and White people generally do all they can to make sure non-White people don’t feel so bad. But the fact remains, White people have made the world a vastly better place and non-White people even had to be taught to blow up airliners by the Czechs.

    White people put some other White people on the Moon. Black people invented … the Supersoaker. In the end we all have to live with that. Black people are showing lots of signs they can’t.

  7. “A report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission published in August showed that black graduates in Britain were paid an average 23.1% less than similarly qualified white workers.”

    (I presume we’re talking “black” as in “of African descent”, and especially of sub-saharan African descent rather than Moroccans or Tunisians)

    Show me the breakdown of the courses that black people are doing.

    Because I can tell you that in 25 years of software development, I have worked with 3 black or mixed black/white software developers. This is a known problem in the USA too.

  8. The Inimitable Steve

    Look, I like a Bounty Bar as much as the next man, so of course I’m not racist towards coloured chappies.

    Therefore let’s sort out this racism thing one and for all, Jeremy Kyle style.

    When I was a child, growing up on a council estate in the northeast of England, I imbibed enough of the background racial tensions of the late 1970s and 1980s to feel profoundly unwelcome in Britain.

    That’s terrible!

    Despite our mother’s careful protection […] secretly, I harboured fears that as part of the group identified by chanting neo-Nazis, hostile neighbours and even television comedians as “them” we might be sent “back”.

    Well, never say never. Lagos is presumably free of background racism?

    But they are powerful memories for my generation. I was eight years old when the BBC finally cancelled The Black and White Minstrel Show.

    Truly, they should pay reparations or something.

    Also to viewers of MY FAMILY.

    I have memories of my mother rushing across our living room to change television channels (in the days before remote controls) to avoid her mixed-race children being confronted by grotesque caricatures of themselves on prime-time television.

    Notice how his black father is absent in these childhood recollections. But stereotypes aren’t just a handy time-saver, folks. They’re racist!

    But back to David’s sad story:

    I grew up in a Britain in which there were pictures of golliwogs on jam jars and golliwog dolls alongside the teddy bears in the toy shop windows. One of the worst moments of my unhappy schooling was when, during the run-up to a 1970s Christmas, we were allowed to bring in our favourite toys. The girl who innocently brought her golliwog doll into our classroom plunged me into a day of humiliation and pain that I still find painful to recall, decades later.

    46 year old man still crying about the time he saw a little girl playing with a black dolly. You’d need a racist heart of stone not to laugh.

    Personally I’d have lead with this story, assuming it’s true (though the fact he seems less traumatised by it than by marmalade jars and BBC light entertainment is odd):

    I recall another incident. It is difficult to regard a word as benign when it has been scrawled on to a note, wrapped around a brick and thrown through one’s living-room window in the dead of night, as happened to my family when I was 14. That scribbled note reiterated the demand that me and my siblings be sent “back”.

    Which must be unpleasant.

    The rest of his piece can be summarised by black black black, blackity black, black, slave trade, blah blah black.

    Do these professional black people never tire of themselves? It’s a tedious as listening to feminists and their reductio ad vagina.

  9. SMFS-
    “White people put some other White people on the Moon. Black people invented … the Supersoaker. In the end we all have to live with that. Black people are showing lots of signs they can’t”
    We live with it by chalking up achievements to individuals or teams of individuals, when we put it down to race, they, we, I do indeed have trouble living with it.

  10. The Inimitable Steve,

    “professional black people”

    There aren’t many “professional Indian people”. And I can tell you why: because their dads would have been like “and what job you going to get with a social studies degree, yah? You want a nice house and a nice car, yah? Go talk to uncle Ashok about accountancy”.

    I know some sikhs and none of them did the sort of wanky degrees my cousins did. They did nursing, programming, accountancy, law, science,

  11. We live with it by chalking up achievements to individuals or teams of individuals, when we put it down to race, they, we, I do indeed have trouble living with it.

    Indeed, but who are the ones constantly trying to make everything about race? It generally isn’t white folk.

  12. I can agree that the first person to do something is great, the first person of a particular colour doing so is nothing – they might be the 6th, or 600th person to do that.
    Plenty of achievements by black people. Look some up. But they are great because they are an achievement, invention or whatever. Not because of the skin colour of the person doing it.

    The blog about this reminded me of a story I heard years ago about a load of black families moved to an area in a city in America. Lots of angry young black men complaining about the whites keeping them down. The old lady telling the story quietly pointed out the housing vandalism, the broken lifts, the battered doors etc. None of which were done by whites.
    Her own grandson ended up running with a gang and in prison for much of his life. Not because of the whites, because of his own actions.

  13. So Much For Subtlety

    Hallowed Be – “We live with it by chalking up achievements to individuals or teams of individuals, when we put it down to race, they, we, I do indeed have trouble living with it.”

    But pretending it is about individuals misses the point. The world depends on White people to invent new things. To cure diseases. To feed the world.

    We are running out of White people. And those that remain increasingly live in fear of their neighbours.

  14. All of this is very good and well, but you’d almost think there were no scum with white skin.

    The real issue is that we differentiate people on the basis of skin colour. It blinds us to the real problems. Professional grievance mongers like BLM do it one way, some of the comments above do it t’other.

    I’ve as big a problem with chavscum who fuck things up as ghetto boys who do the same. I’d like to see assholes punished, irrespective of racial origin.

    Finally- I’ve met and worked with many black professionals. There was the usual distribution of good bad and indifferent within that group.

  15. I was eight years old when the BBC finally cancelled The Black and White Minstrel Show.

    This is inadvertently, hilariously funny. I am picturing his sad face as he wrote this.

    The first thing this man needs, assuming that he is genuine about this and that it isn’t the usual act/shakedown, is a fucking sense of historical perspective delivered via the medium of a cricket bat the back of the head.

  16. I can see arguments brewing on the horizon about who the first minorities de jour were in this country. Black Africans served in the Roman Army on Hardian’s Wall in the second century. Yebbut, the grave of a second century chinese trader has been found in London.

  17. @JohnSquare: ‘All of this is very good and well, but you’d almost think there were no scum with white skin.’

    Oh, there are. But I’ve yet to see any articles blaming everything else on why they are scum. How about you?

  18. SMFS-
    “pretending its about individuals misses the point”. No it is the point, why is it pretending? All you can say about race when it comes down to it is what you look like and even then I don’t really look anything like Buzz Aldrin

  19. Tim-
    “but who are the ones constantly trying to make everything about race? It generally isn’t white folk.”
    There’s a general reluctance to talk about race , and i’m all for that. But why does one historian devote their lives to the study of early medieval French tapestries and another to “black History” The first historian probably has an incredibly boring and obscure reason the second one blindingly obvious and contained in the iSteve’s “blackety black black” summary. I’m fine with both, but it’s really the demand side that unsettles me, commissioning a series based on race or teaching otherwise unconnected events or people under the heading “[Insert racial group here] History” is the wrong direction.

  20. My parents came to visit last month and bought my one year old daughter a golliwog doll. Best present ever.

  21. Bloke in Wiltshire said:
    “’professional black people’? There aren’t many “professional Indian people”

    Well, there are, but in a very different sense. Indian people who are professionals, rather than people who make a profession out of their colour.

  22. Whites have made history because they have a written language.

    In what language is Black History written? Ipso facto, it is not Black History.

  23. @Dongguan John

    Where on earth can one buy such a thing nowadays?

    @Hallowed Be
    But why does one historian devote their lives to the study of early medieval French tapestries and another to “black History” The first historian probably has an incredibly boring and obscure reason…

    It may be boring to you but it must be an area of scholarship which draws a large number of (pardon the metaphor) interweaving historical threads together. There’s an exhibition at the V&A for folk with a sufficiently broad outlook.

    Black History is an amorphous concept which seeks to impose blackness on any matter with which it treats however tangential the black element might be to the events or society under examination. There’s a similar problem with many (mainly) women historians who want to put the feminist stamp on events – more about family life and diet and less about the intrigue, kingship and war that shaped much of the past.

  24. The Meissen Bison-
    “it may be boring to you” not the subject only the author’s reason for studying it .e.g. my second girlfriend liked to cross-stitch. Any subject matter sufficiently well delved into and analysed has the potential to interest me.

    I agree with you.

    Hold my beer. I shall now click your link.

  25. Reporting back- I now know opus anglicanum is/was a thing. Thank you TMB.

    No info on why the people putting on the exhibition and the courses were into it. I presume it was not felt necessary.

  26. @Julia M

    Did you not see Benefit Street? Read Owen Jones’ book? Granted, the Guardian views the folks I’m talking about with suspicion (as they don’t hold the same metropolitan views as they do), but there’s plenty of patronising ‘it’s not their fault!’ Shite out there. It just doesn’t score as high up the victimology hierarchy as the black, lesbian rape-victim stuff.

    maybe it’s not as visible as the link given as the white non-working class don’t whinge in text.

  27. @JuliaM

    Crikey! Did they also have a copy of my favourite book as a toddler; “Coco, King of Coon Island” by any chance?

  28. @Bloke in Wiltshire, October 30, 2016 at 11:08 am
    ““A report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission published in August showed that black graduates in Britain were paid an average 23.1% less than similarly qualified white workers.”

    (I presume we’re talking “black” as in “of African descent”, and especially of sub-saharan African descent rather than Moroccans or Tunisians)

    Show me the breakdown of the courses that black people are doing.

    Because I can tell you that in 25 years of software development, I have worked with 3 black or mixed black/white software developers. This is a known problem in the USA too.

    Similar for me.

    Furthermore, on MBA out of 102 students: zero black, one Bangladeshi, one native Singapore, one British Asian. The other 99 were white from all over the world: Aus, Nz, HK, USA, Canada, Iceland, Norway, South Africa…

    .
    Re: Golliwogs – surely blacks should celebrate that white children love their black stuffed things as much as their white/red whatever ones.

    Are black gonks, furbies etc racist too?
    .

  29. So Much For Subtlety

    John Square – “The real issue is that we differentiate people on the basis of skin colour. It blinds us to the real problems.”

    On the contrary, the real issue is that we are too afraid to mention race, and that blinds us to the real problems. We cannot talk honestly about education or crime or even mental health because we do not dare mention race. There are no problems that are not made worse by a darker skin. Now causation is a problem, but we will never know because we are not allowed to even ask.

    “I’ve as big a problem with chavscum who fuck things up as ghetto boys who do the same. I’d like to see assholes punished, irrespective of racial origin.”

    Great. So would I. But disparate impact means they won’t. As ar$eholes tend to be of one colour more than the other. Black Americans have a higher murder rate in the same way – and more or less to the same extent – schizophrenics do. So if we punish people for what they do as opposed to what they are, we will disproportionately punish Blacks.

    “Finally- I’ve met and worked with many black professionals. There was the usual distribution of good bad and indifferent within that group.”

    That misses the point. If you deal with the top 10% of Whites and the top 1% of Blacks you may well think that the two groups are comparable.

  30. I’m a cross stitcher, have been for a couple of decades. Something on early Medieval French tapestries could indeed be of interest, looking at colours and techniques along with the design elements of the plan.
    I’d not study it in depth as much as an academic on the subject would, but their research and descriptions of particular elements help educate those of us who do find the subject matter of interest.
    On the other hand I have no interest in black history as history.
    History is fascinating to study but the sub elements (black history is just one) are simply too extreme a focus and filter for my tastes.

  31. So Much For Subtlety

    Hallowed Be – “No it is the point, why is it pretending?”

    Because either White people are the beneficiaries of the longest streak of good luck in history, or there is something that Europeans do that others have not – and it looks very much like they cannot. Race has been an outstanding predictor of failure and success.

    “All you can say about race when it comes down to it is what you look like and even then I don’t really look anything like Buzz Aldrin”

    And whose organs you can accept.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3671391/Lack-ethnic-minority-organ-donors-means-m-sentenced-die-race-says-soul-singer.html

    Whether or not race is a real thing or not – and biology strongly suggests it is even if it doesn’t matter – it is strongly associated with success and failure.

    And the world is running out of White people – the only people making the world a better place (apart from some Japanese).

  32. So Much For Subtlety

    The Meissen Bison – “Black History is an amorphous concept which seeks to impose blackness on any matter with which it treats however tangential the black element might be to the events or society under examination.”

    I don’t think it is amorphous. On the contrary, it is simple. Black people have done f**k all that is interesting in recent times. Say the past 100,000 years. This is alleged to give them self-esteem problems. Which I can understand. It must be annoying seeing the smart boys in their Grammar school uniforms go past every day. Now multiply that by a million. So Black History Month is an agreement between Black radicals and well meaning, nice, White people to lie about the past so that Black people feel better about their lack of achievement.

    For the same reason that the physics genius in The Martian has to be a rather fey young Black male.

    That is stupid but it is not amorphous.

  33. The Meissen Bison,

    I asked my mother the same question, her answer was ‘The internet’.

    It’s amazing how a completely computer illiterate 70 year-old woman can become an expert at tracking down things that upset lefties on-line.

  34. @ jgh
    North Africans served on Hadrian’s Wall but not black Africans.
    “Africa” as a Roman province roughly equated to Tunisia. The Roman empire never went south of Egypt and *all* legionnaires were Roman subjects (some specialist auxiliaries were not but there is no record of which I have heard that refers to black auxiliaries). Hannibal’s elephants were North African elephants, a species now extinct, that were smaller than Indian elephants and better able to cope with the cold in Spain and crossing the Alps.

  35. Bloke in Costa Rica

    I loved my golly when I was a kid. I suppose my five-year-old self was suffering from a crippling dose of false consciousness.

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