Recently Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu, lawyer, activist and entrepreneur, has been doing the TV rounds telling Britain about themselves and their racism. Causing uproar as Britain denies being racist and is offended at the mere thought of being labelled as such. While clips like this tend to go viral every now again, her ones have evoked a discussion about it not being the job of the oppressed to teach the oppressor.
Race is a social construct, to the point that when we try to place boundaries, debate or discuss it, it literally begins to fall apart. White people have been able to build and sustain empires, kingdoms and governments by actively promoting racist doctrine. But when black people mention race, they are now deemed to be the racists. Which shows how uneducated Britain is as to what constitutes as racism. Race classification was started as a way to prove white superiority. It was not made to discuss the nuances and interactions between races. Though many people have given us new theories, language and concepts, we still cannot escape the fact that the very idea of race is rooted primarily in anti-blackness. Yet here we are, trying to use the language and theories that were created to enslave us and prove that we are worthless to explain racism back to people it benefits.
The alternative is to leave it them to teach each other. This would be ideal and alleviate the burden that is places on black and brown people. However, this has clearly not worked, at least not at the speed one would like. Though we have some white allies who do the work, like Jane Elliot, the majority of people are happy with the way things are. Honestly, why would they want to change a system that benefits them? Change has never come about by waiting for the oppressor to have a moral epiphany that causes them to relinquish power.
So, where does that leave us?
We cannot use the master’s tools to dismantle their house, but we also cannot rely on them to do it themselves. Yes, debating racism is tiring and convincing people of our humanity is exhausting. There is no one route to liberation. If we are going to change the way in which we are viewed, then all approaches are going to need to be employed. Unfortunately, the majority of work that activists due will go unnoticed by the people who really need it. Sharon from Lancashire who voted Brexit party in the last election is unlikely to read this. But she will probably watch Good Morning Britain and see people like Dr. Shola Mos-Shogbamimu. Though she may still hold her bigoted views, the reach that these platforms have is what will expose others to alternative viewpoints. The black people who go on these platforms shouldn’t be chastised for it.
If we seek to overturn the racial injustices that have been engrained in our society, then we will need various strategies. If one wants to take on the burden to debate and educate white people on race relations, then so be it. Alongside other methods and allies hopefully we make some gains.
Credit featured photo: GettyImages
Written by Leonie Mills
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