Saturday, 2 September 2017

Are all white people racist?

I wouldn't normally react to a political rant written by a model I'd never even heard of because there are more important things going on in the world, but the way Munroe Bergdorf has been turned into some kind of heroic martyr after getting sacked by L'Oreal for her all white people are racist rant, I think it's important to criticised the misplaced hero worship and adoration she's receiving.

Firstly I'll begin by quoting what she actually said to get herself fired (with important bits in bold).
"Honestly I don't have energy to talk about the racial violence of white people any more. Yes ALL white people
Because most of ya'll don't even realise or refuse to acknowledge that your existence, privilege and success as a race is built on the backs, blood and death of people of colour. Your entire existence is drenched in racism. From micro-aggressions to terrorism, you guys built the blueprint for this s***
Come see me when you realise that racism isn't learned, it's inherited and consciously or unconsciously passed down through privilege.  
Once white people begin to admit that their race is the most violent and oppressive force of nature on Earth… then we can talk. Until then stay acting shocked about how the world continues to stay f***** at the hands of your ancestors and your heads that remain buried in the sand with hands over your ears."
ALL white people

Monroe Bergdorf clearly accused all white people of being guilty of racial violence. There is no ambiguity here. She even used all caps to emphasise the point that she was making her accusations against ALL white people.

The dictionary definition of racism (Merriam Webster) is that it is "a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race".

Accusing all white-skinned people of being guilty of racial violence, and claiming that white people are the most violent and oppressive force of nature on earth is brazen and obvious racism because it's defining people by the colour of their skin, not by the content of their character.

White supremacy

Several people have presented that the fact that she got sacked for this blatantly racist rant as some kind of proof of white supremacy. 

One excruciating Independent article (that failed to even disclose what the model said so that the reader could make up their own minds about whether she was just "speaking out against racist rhetoric" as the article claimed, or spewing racist rhetoric herself) even painted her as a "trailblazer to lose out on opportunities for calling out the insidious ways that racism functions"!

In reality the fact that she got sacked is proof of nothing except the fact that L'oreal is a corporation that considers anti-white racist views incompatible with their brand identity.

As someone who is considered by many to be a radical leftist I don't often find myself defending massive corporations, but the decision to fire a brand ambassador who decided to attack a huge swathe of their own customer base as being guilty of racial violence simply because of the colour of their skin, doesn't actually seem that outrageous at all.

Of course white supremacy exists, there's no debate about that. We just need to recall the events at Charlottesville, or any number of other violent extreme-right rallies, or the hateful bile spread in online hate chambers like Britain First to see that this sickening white supremacist ideology persists, but a model getting sacked for spewing anti-white racism isn't proof of anything except the fact that overt racism of all forms is unacceptable.

Only whites can be racist?

Not only does Bergdorf accuse all white people of being guilty of racial violence, she also seems to suggest that white-skinned people are the only ones who are capable of being racist because racism is supposedly learned and passed down through white privilege.

Of course this theory of racism is narrow-minded rubbish that ignores all of the countless examples of non-white racism like the ethnic genocide in Rwanda and the oppression of the Kurds in the middle east, through to the huge increase in white-on-white racism that has happened in the UK since the Brexit vote.

But what really rubs it in is that this ridiculous theory that racism is propagated only by white privilege is being expressed in the very same statement as a load of blatantly racist anti-white rhetoric.

Collective responsibility

Bergdorf accuses white people of having their heads buried in the sand over the crimes of our ancestors and ignoring the fact that empires of privilege were built through the exploitation of people of colour.

As an anti-imperialist I'm well aware of the way the British empire was built on exploitation and I don't need some racist rant from some model I'd never even heard of to accuse me (and all other white-skinned people) of racial violence and wilful ignorance to accept the fact.

Aside from understanding the depravity of the imperialist exploitation and genocide that built the wealth of Britain, the United States and numerous other western countries, I'm also well aware that the victims were not always people of colour.

I'm from a working class background and I have some Irish heritage, so I know perfectly well that while the establishment class were building up the vast fortunes they maintain today.

Not only did the British ruling establishment build their fortunes on the backs of people of colour across the empire, they ruthlessly exploited the white working class in Britain too in their mines, in their sweatshops, and on their battlefields.

When it comes to imperialism, the occupation of Ireland was absolute proof that when it came to exploitation, genocide and famine, the British ruling class drew little distinction between white Irish people and people of colour elsewhere in the empire.

So why, just because of the colour of my skin, should I bear collective responsibility for the crimes of exploitation the British ruling establishment committed against my white working class ancestors to build their fortunes, and their savage repression of my Irish ancestors?

Tarring all white-skinned people as being collectively guilty for the crimes committed by some white people in the past isn't just ill-considered as a tactic for getting white people to consider the history of oppression that others have suffered, it's downright racist.

Imagine if someone tried to argue that all black people are collectively responsible for the crimes of Idi Amin, or Mobutu Sese Seko, or that all Asians are collectively responsible for the crimes of Japan during WWII or the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.

There would rightly be an absolute uproar about it, but when it comes to tarring people with white skin with the imperialist genocide and exploitation of the past, there are many who actually laud this kind of racism as if it's the wonderfully progressive anti-racism of a heroic trailblazer for freedom!


Of course white privilege exists. Countless studies have proven stuff like white sounding names on identical CVs achieve far more success than non-white sounding names, however white privilege isn't the only form of privilege.

In the United Kingdom it's been proven that people from non-elitist backgrounds get paid thousands of pounds per year less than people from establishment backgrounds for doing exactly the same job.

Talk to anyone with a physical disability or a mental health condition about the way they are discriminated against.

Anyone who sees the world in terms of ALL white people being privileged and ALL people of colour being oppressed is thinking in a childishly two dimensional manner.

As a transgender person Bergdorf should know that privilege is a multifaceted issue that involves race, sex, class, creed, age, sexual orientation, physical and cognitive abilities and countless other things, but she decided to paint it in absolute terms as a skin colour issue in her rant.

In the 21st Century UK an able bodied, wealthy person of colour who has been educated at an elitist private school obviously has far more privilege than a white person from an ordinary working class background, a regional accent and a physical or mental disability.

How to alienate people

Issues like the legacies of imperialism and exploitation, continuing race discrimination, privilege and widespread indifference/denial are incredibly important, but to frame such important issues in the context of a racist anti-white tirade is massively counter-productive.

You don't engage people into thinking about these issues by furiously deriding them as massively ignorant and violent racists who are automatically defined as guilty simply because of the colour of their skin.

Such a confrontational and openly racist approach to these issues is clearly likely to be severely counter-productive, because tying these issues up with displays of brazen anti-white racism is more likely to turn people away from giving them proper consideration than it is to suddenly wake them up.


Bergdorf may have got herself sacked as a brand ambassador for L'oreal, but she's certainly whipped up a mass of free publicity with her racist rant.

Instead of being just some obscure model few people had ever heard of, she's now being championed as some kind of heroic anti-racism campaigner by people too thick to see that ranting about "ALL white people" is the polar opposite of anti-racism.

It seems that social media platforms, and especially Twitter, have created an appalling online environment where calm and considered analyses usually get ignored, and the people who spread the most extreme views get the bulk of the publicity.

If you want to get a following of millions for your views on immigration and Islam, call refugees "cockroaches" and propose a "final solution" for the Muslim problem. Even if you get sacked from your radio show, it'll be worth it for the storm of free publicity.

And if you want to be lauded as a hero by right-on liberals, don't talk about issues like imperialism and privilege in rational evidence based terms, furiously generalise that all white people are violent and wilfully ignorant racists. Even if you get sacked as a brand ambassador for L'oreal, it'll be worth it for the storm of free publicity.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


No comments: