We are sleepwalking into segregation

Racial identity politics is fuelling a cruel, racist and segregationist outlook. It must be resisted.

Fraser Myers
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Topics Politics

Wokeness has turned the world upside down. Today it is those who think of themselves as anti-racist who are adopting segregationist views.

The woke policing of racial boundaries has been going on for some time and in plain sight, though it has faced little challenge. Initially, its most obvious expression in the mainstream was the policing of art and culture. Celebrities and artists were shamed and mocked for the sin of ‘cultural appropriation’. The use of supposedly ‘black’ hairstyles, fashion, food and music by white people (and even certain non-whites) was denounced as a form of cultural theft. Those who strayed beyond their racial boundary were told: ‘Stay in your lane.’

Now more nebulous ideas about ‘whiteness’ and ‘white culture’ have taken root in mainstream discussion and their boundaries are becoming sharper. Back in 2018, the Guardian tried and failed to define ‘white culture’ with any precision. ‘If whiteness takes no shape, then the concrete structures that shaped it (and often benefit from it) remain invisible too’, wrote data journalist Mona Chalabi. Sifting through the data, Chalabi discovered that white people like the arts, vegetables, alcohol and dairy products. Nonetheless, she was convinced this nebulous white culture was a force for ill, cannibalising all the other race-based cultures for its own ends.

But in the wake of the recent Black Lives Matter protests, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) has put forward a far more definitive list of the ‘aspects and assumptions of whiteness and white culture in the United States’. The list, published yesterday, could easily have been drawn up by a white supremacist. While some of the aspects of whiteness it highlights are fairly mundane, such as a lifestyle that prefers the nuclear family and follows Christianity, many of the inclusions are downright racist when you consider their opposites. For instance, if ‘politeness’, ‘hard work’ and ‘objective, rational thinking’ are hallmarks of ‘whiteness’, then what does that say about people who aren’t white? Are we supposed to conclude that they are rude, lazy and irrational?

More significant is the underlying assumption – which is now widely held by our woke elites – that whites and non-whites should not only be held to different standards but are also expected to hold different, alien values. These unbridgeable divides are not based on old-school racist views of white supremacy, but on a profound pessimism about race relations. As the statue-toppling antics of BLM protesters illustrate, it is now common to view ethnic minorities as forever chained to the past horrors of slavery and colonialism (hence the need to destroy the past symbolically). Despite all evidence to the contrary, and despite all the concrete gains of past anti-racist movements, the woke narrative insists that nothing has really changed for people of colour.

This race fatalism has even led some ‘anti-racists’ to embrace explicitly segregationist ideas. Again, these ideas are not framed in terms of racial superiority, but almost as a kind of safe space from a supposedly irredeemably racist world. In the UK, an academic plans to set up the Free Black University which can act as ‘a space of community and care for black students, connecting them with black therapists, counsellors and community healers to offer a range of support’. Even at established institutions like Oxford University, the notion that black students can only relate to other black people is widespread – whether that is black teachers or counsellors in the present or black authors from the past. For instance, in recent weeks vice-chancellor Louise Richards has committed to bringing in black counsellors from outside the university to address the mental-health needs of black students.

This segregationist attitude is even expressed in physical spaces. Many universities in the United States offer black-only accommodation and recreational facilities. In 2017, Harvard hosted its first black-only graduation ceremony. A 2019 report found that more than 75 US colleges offered segregated commencement events. Of course, this is nothing like the evils of Apartheid or Jim Crow, but it is nonetheless striking that the supposedly progressive logic of identity politics and of the campus safe space also tends towards the physical separation of people according to their race.

This hyper-racialised view of the world has been promoted by every institution under the sun – in education, in the media and even by major corporations. Disturbingly, it is also clearly having an effect on how some people see themselves and on their most intimate relationships. Writing in the New York Times in 2017, a law professor asked, ‘Can my children be friends with white people?’. ‘I will teach my boys to have profound doubts that friendship with white people is possible’, he wrote, in a supposedly progressive newspaper. ‘When they ask, I will teach my sons that their beautiful hue is a fault line.’

Earlier this month, during a Zoom meeting of a New York City Community Education Council, a white councillor was bouncing a black baby on his knee (the baby was his friend’s nephew). This innocent activity provoked howls of outrage. ‘It hurts people when they see a white man bouncing a brown baby on their lap’, a fellow councillor screamed in indignation. ‘That is harmful. That makes people cry. That makes people log out of our meeting.’ She then makes clear where this rage comes from: ‘Read a book! Read Ibram Kehndi! Read White Fragility!’ These two books – Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility and Ibram X Kendi’s How to Be an Anti-Racist – not only topped bestseller lists during the BLM demos but are also taught in schools and used in workplaces to train people how to be ‘anti-racist’. Both promote a hypersensitivity to race and an extreme race fatalism. As Luke Gittos has argued on spiked, DiAngelo’s calls for white people to become more conscious of their race are eerily similar to the arguments put forward by white nationalists like Richard Spencer.

This view of races as distinct and divided is particularly harmful to mixed-race people. In the UK, mixed race is the largest growing ethnic group. Ordinary people are getting on with living in a multiethnic society. Many people are so not bothered by racial difference that they are starting mixed-race families together on an unprecedented scale.

But for the woke types, this simply will not do – at least not without their intervention. In her bestselling Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge insists that the existence of mixed-race people ‘makes race relations more complicated, not less’ – meaning it makes race consciousness more necessary. ‘White privilege is never more pronounced than in our intimate relationships, close friendships and our families’, she writes. Eddo-Lodge then quotes a mixed-race interviewee who has clearly been influenced by the woke politics of race: ‘Now, when I see an interracial couple, I feel uneasy.’ Parents of mixed-race children, she says, need ‘to be humble, and to learn that they are racist even if they don’t think that they are.’

But the effect of a white parent to a mixed-raced child seeing themselves as racist is profound. Some parents have obligingly accepted that they are indeed racists. ‘White supremacy lives inside me’, wrote one woke parent recently, whose bizarre mea culpa went viral. It is hard to overstate how cruel all of this is. When even the most intimate relationships are poisoned by the need to see race everywhere, the result is that parents feel alienated from their own children – and vice versa.

The new politics of race may present itself as progressive and ‘anti-racist’, but it is anything but. It explicitly seeks to divide people by race. If we don’t take a stand against this, or don’t offer a universalist, colourblind alternative, then we will sleepwalk into further segregation.

Fraser Myers is a staff writer at spiked.

Picture by: Getty.

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Comments

Ann Ceely

23rd July 2020 at 8:32 am

When I first came across non-white people, it was at church and school in the early 60s. They had different accents, but easy to understand. Smelt different. Ate different food. I hated garlic. People who lived next door to Pakistanis complained that they never stopped cooking curries which made their sheets smell horrid (no tumble driers in those days, washing had to dry outdoors).
And, what I found hardest, was the way they wouldn’t queue. Their garlicky breathe made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end! I’d be figetting and squirming while I tried to keep my ace in the queue. And then, when the bus srrived all hell broke loose! Every morning I was late for school because these incomers pushed onto the bus in front of me!

Russ Wood

21st July 2020 at 12:59 pm

Erm – as a South African, those attitudes seem familiar. Wasn’t it the late, unloved S.A. National Party who developed the theory of “Separate development’? (Better known as ‘apartness’ or ‘apartheid’). Funny how disparate groups home in on to similar ideas?
That idea didn’t work back in the 1950’s, but it took until the 1990’s for it to die out. Maybe the original USA idea of the ‘melting pot’ was a more stable concept than ‘multiculturalism’?

Ann Ceely

23rd July 2020 at 8:41 am

Russ,
The US had apartheid which was basically a class /slave distinction for hundreds of years.
When their soldiers came over to Britain during WWII, our population refused to work with it, so the US commanders had to let all races into the same toilets and theatres etc..

Andy Paul

21st July 2020 at 11:37 am

Perhaps a way to throw a spanner into the spokes of the terminally ‘woke’ is for the white British to loudly identify as the indigenous peoples of these islands which considering how the woke are swift to proclaim the rights of indigenous peoples around the world should send them into something of a tailspin…

Puddy Cat

17th July 2020 at 9:34 am

Language is the ultimate example of nationhood and ethnicity. Welch nor Gaelic will never be languages that are used in trade and diplomacy but they are red lines as far as their maintenance and costs are concerned. So, if the rise of black Africanism is proposing the uniqueness and authenticity of the cause perhaps it is time that those proclaiming such an austere thesis should fall back on Ubangian, Khoe or Bangime, or other such African tongues, to elaborate the cause with proof positive of their attachment. Not just the look but a commitment to go into the world as an unadulterated individual, race. I have a sneaking suspicion that the adoption of English by those who so insistently proclaiming the sanctity of their roots may fall under the heading of cultural appropriators by communicating their suit in a language not only associated with slavers but also displaying their laxity in holding to a foreign tongue and so defaming their cause and origins in terms of but a mechanistic use of colour alone when they barely scratch the surface of what it is to be unique.

silly billy

16th July 2020 at 11:08 pm

I find myself pining for the early 1960s, where white men like Clapton and Richards played the blues without being guilty of cultural appropriation, in fact they revitalised the careers of BB King and Muddy Waters. WTF has happened to the world?

Marvin Jones

19th July 2020 at 9:29 am

AAAHHH! Silly Billy. While you were not looking, the meek, ignorant, unevolved, illiterate and the type of species that have no value to this planet, started to breed like bacteria. This results in vast numbers being handed powers that this wonderful fantasy of a democracy have endowed to them. Be thankful, us matured old fools don’t have too long to experience Armageddon.

CJ Hawes

16th July 2020 at 10:29 pm

A lid will be kept on things. Don’t give it airplay, let various people shout and scream. Eventually things will calm and the majority of all ethnicities will continue towards an equal society to the horror of the woke.

Kevin Turner

16th July 2020 at 10:27 pm

I can see why Black Panther was so popular amongst a certain demographic: Wakanda is a black ethnostate, with isolationist and exclusionary policies, with no immigrants or refuges, ruled by a technocratic dictator.

Kevin Turner

16th July 2020 at 10:38 pm

And it is more advanced – i.e. better – than any other nation on earth.

James Knight

16th July 2020 at 7:59 pm

“Do these people not realise that they are making people more racist rather than less”.

I expect so. Livelihoods depend on it. It is hard to keep the anti-racism bandwagon going when there is such a paucity of actual racism. So they need to rehabilitate it by one means or another.

David Graham

16th July 2020 at 7:11 pm

It’s seems like a cynical manipulation of people’s humanity, using people’s good intentions. Divide, disrupt and rule. It’s a globalist, neocolonial, transnational elite agenda of ‘racial identity’ politics to maintain power? It’s a weird distortion or inversion of the past and present.

John Reic

16th July 2020 at 7:06 pm

Did anyone call Reni Eddo lodge up on that at the time causing a problem where there isn’t one
I know people dismiss the book
But
To start saying the white person in a relationship should feel white guilt and white guilt their child might be a victim of racism for not being strong enough to have let a Black person breed with their other half

Dominic Straiton

16th July 2020 at 6:21 pm

As white people are “white supremacists” these days why would I want to sully my supremeness with these riffraff.

Gordon O Gopher

16th July 2020 at 6:01 pm

Middle class white people urgently need to attend my anti-racism training course at £4K a head.

There are cheaper courses available but if you go for the cheaper course you’re clearly not taking your unconscious racism seriously enough and therefore you’re probably bare racist ‘n stuff.

Please PM me for the £4K course. You are also invited to donate any amount on top of the £4K that you deem necessary – naturally the more you donate the least racist you are.

Thank you

Any of you who don’t PM me are like bare racist ‘n that.

Flossy Morris

16th July 2020 at 5:48 pm

“What constituted the turbulence of our time and what transition it was we were passing through I don’t know, nor I think does anyone, unless it were some of those visitors of ours. Yet the most worthless fellows suddenly gained predominant influence, began loudly criticising everything sacred, though till then they had not dared to open their mouths, while the leading people, who had till then so satisfactorily kept the upper hand, began listening to them and holding their peace; some even simpered approval in a most shameless way.”

Devils – Fyodor Dostoesvsky

KATHLEEN CARR

16th July 2020 at 4:37 pm

Sensible black people will have to stop voting in silly black politicians if they don’t like to be categorized as wilting flowers who have to get out the smelling salts everytime they pass an offensive statue. Liberal people create the multi-cultural dream in cities like London then vote with their pockets by moving to rich , usually all-white, enclaves. They used to say that architects should be made to live in the people-unfriendly buildings they create. Perhaps if some of these University lecturers with their ideas of ‘white privilege’ lived in these areas of high inner-city violence and their children went to the local schools these areas might improve for the better.

Warren Alexander

16th July 2020 at 3:39 pm

How about segregating woke bigots from the rest of us?

Marvin Jones

19th July 2020 at 9:35 am

That would happen automatically with mass repatriation which probably not possible, would have to be more rapid than this ultra mass migration of the last 30 years.

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16th July 2020 at 3:32 pm

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16th July 2020 at 3:30 pm

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George Whale

16th July 2020 at 2:53 pm

Segregation along ethnocultural lines can promote peace by reducing opportunities for frictional contact between warring or culturally incompatible groups, and allowing each group more freedom and autonomy in the way it runs things. In any case, it’s happening organically, due to the universal human preference to live amongst one’s own kind.

James Conner

16th July 2020 at 2:20 pm

Blacks walk around with a colossal chip on their shoulder and virtue-signalling whites walk by their side to help shoulder their burden. I despise them all.

Sean Lydon

16th July 2020 at 1:39 pm

There never has been, and therefore it’s safe to say never could be peaceful coexistence among such divergent groups. Certainly not in such numbers and in such proximity.

As to the most violent and antagonistic group, whose identity is invested in their appearance to a degree out of all proportion to others, wherever they preponderate civil strife follows. Yet we’re supposed to turn a blind eye to the crime and violence against Europeans, never mind among themselves as if it will magically cease even while their numbers increase in proportion.

Jamaican folk hero, racial separatist and ‘back to Africa’ advocate Marcus Garvey is commemorated in many public institutions in England, eg Marcus Garvey library in Tottenham. To that extent racial segregation is officially endorsed.

But Europeans agreeing with him risk imprisonment for ‘racism’ should they dare express their assent publicly. Surely it’s reasonable to separate antagonistic groups, as in Northern Ireland, for the sake of civil order?

etidretni noinipo

16th July 2020 at 2:46 pm

Another famous example of this is Muhammad Ali, as evidenced by his infamous Michael Parkinson interview (on Youtube for posterity: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqiWFLsgVi4). He was perfectly entitled to express his personal opinion of course, but it’s pretty clear that a white sports personality expressing those sentiments either then or now would no longer be considered a hero or role model.

Stephen J

16th July 2020 at 1:34 pm

Of course 30 odd years back, the same folk would not be caught buying an “Outspan” fruit, since it supported that nasty white South Efrikan “regime”, now that they are doing the same, it is (apparently) laudable….

No consistency from loony lefties, I am afraid.

Highland Fleet Lute

16th July 2020 at 1:17 pm

“A white mother, Jessica Whitaker, 24, was shot dead by a black woman after saying “all lives matter”. Now supporters of the ‘Black lives matter’ movement celebrate her death on Facebook.”
https://twitter.com/i/web/status/1282775224807829505

Brandy Cluster

16th July 2020 at 1:06 pm

I was discussing this tonight (Australian time) with spouse and I put the question, “how can you force people, at the point of a gun to like and respect other races and people no matter how they behave towards themselves or to you”? The last time I heard of respect being earned because it was FORCED and at the point of a gun as “The Gunfight at the OK Corral”.

Peter White

16th July 2020 at 12:58 pm

What an excellent article, and thank goodness for the existence of Spiked, where issues such as this are discussed sensibly and rationally. I guess that none of us are truly colour-blind. For myself, I am more likely to treat a BAME person with exceptional care and friendliness, because I know that to do otherwise is likely to cause offence. If there are two empty seats on a bus and one is next to a black person, I would choose that one for the reason just mentioned. Does this make me prejudiced? Most probably. I’ve heard it described as smiley-face racism – we really just can’t get it right. Every day, the BBC’s News front page is plastered with click-bait articles about famous and not-yet-famous people who can relate a racist incident from some point in their past, that needs an airing in the current climate.The events of the last few weeks make me really sad, because as a country we are very inclusive and tolerant, but I’m worried that this is beginning to crumble.

Theo Cupiér

16th July 2020 at 6:57 pm

I don’t think it would make you prejudiced Peter, if you were to positively choose the seat next to the BAME (uncomfortable term) person, with exceptional care and friendliness, partly because you are negatively socio-politically sensitised, I’d think that you would quite possibly be perceived of overextending ostentatious virtue signalling, walking on egg shells.

Jim Lawrie

16th July 2020 at 12:55 pm

Why should it be resisted? The BAME lot are happy to go along with it, so give them enough rope to hang themselves.

I welcome any practice that will destroy all that social construct BS. We are in the majority and sick and tired of the whining parasites. So bring it on.

Why does the writer pretend to be surprised that a political creed with its genesis in Marxism wants to impose upon every intimate and private corner of our lives, deny us the privacy of home and family, and the right to freedom of association?

As for terminology. I refer to them as non-whites, because that is what they are and it is how they define themselves.

Philip Humphrey

16th July 2020 at 4:33 pm

I think it should be resisted because I believe in one nation, that’s our identity. We’re all citizens, we should belong. It shouldn’t matter what colour, race or religion we are except possibly to ourselves. And that’s why I’m so upset with the “woke” trying to divide people along lines of race or sexuality. I hope I’m not being naive, but I think it’s going to take years to repair the damage they’ve already done.

Jim Lawrie

16th July 2020 at 4:47 pm

You can believe in whatever you want, but don’t try to impose it on me. More so when my entire experience and reading tells me the opposite.
We were one nation before mass immigration. We no longer are. Wake up.

Theo Cupiér

16th July 2020 at 7:42 pm

In reply to your reply for Philip Humphrey, I’m confused, before which significant “mass immigration” were we ever one nation?, under what banner?, or otherwise when do things become problematic?

Mark Houghton

16th July 2020 at 12:54 pm

” If we don’t take a stand against this, or don’t offer a universalist, colourblind alternative, then we will sleepwalk into further segregation.”

What a pointless article. We know we’re facing problems – we’re exposed to this information on a regular basis here and elsewhere but what we don’t get are ideas as to how to ‘take a stand against this’ making this article another waste of time. Proclaiming ‘down with this kind of thing’ has no effect whatever.

L Strange

16th July 2020 at 2:10 pm

I like this site and enjoy many of the articles, but I agree, they’re almost all bereft of suggestions beyond “we need to have a dialogue/debate”. Difficult when only one side of the argument is willing to turn up.

Mark Houghton

16th July 2020 at 2:49 pm

The other side will turn up – but only to repeatedly kick you in the head. The point at which we could have a sensible dialogue with these ideologically driven lunatics is long gone – in my view this will only end in violence. This is a war but lots of people don’t realise that yet.

Richard GIBBONS

16th July 2020 at 12:46 pm

Do these people not realise that they are making people more racist rather than less. I am a pretty reasonable person and will always look for the good in individual people until they prove otherwise. But this is making me not want to interact with ethnic minorities in case I innocently put my foot in it. If this goes to it’s natural conclusion do people live in separate cities, work for mono colour companies ? How will that work ? What happens if a black person wants to live in a white neighbourhood ? Who will stop him the racists or the anti racists ?

Brandy Cluster

16th July 2020 at 1:07 pm

You WILL like me and respect me and dignify my behaviour if I have to kill you to get it.

Welcome to the western world, 2020.

Jim Lawrie

16th July 2020 at 4:52 pm

If you do not innocently put your foot in it they will shift the ground under yolu to ensure that you do.

theodore smuglout

16th July 2020 at 8:11 pm

Good post Richard. I feel exactly the same way. I like watching a good game of footer so turned on the TV last night for Arsenal v Liverpool – and there was the “Black Lives Matter” caption at the top of the screen next to the scoreline. The TV went off immediately. I’m not prepared to be lectured and subjected to the dripfeed of political propaganda when I’m expecting to be entertained.

Football I can live without – but my passion in life is playing the classical organ at home. Unfortunately all the music I love was composed by dead white males. How long before I can expect a knock on the door? I never thought I would ever be motivated to write something like this, but whereas up until recently I think I could justifiably have been accused of paranoia, now I’m not so sure.

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