To me, the most striking thing about the racist Christmas card circulated by the British National Party (or the Keystone Stormtroopers, as I like to call them), is how utterly mainstream it looks.
There is clearly a racist message here because
a) it’s being circulated by a racist party of fascist Nazi racist racists,
b) because of the oh-so-clever hidden subtext of the phrase ‘white Christmas’ that Cyclops/Fuhrer Dickibegyourpardonnick Griffin’s reichschancellory full of political geniuses have cryptically woven into it.
But, as Metro have pointed out, it’s an altered stock image, also used by thoroughly mainstream publications.
The Aryan child – pale and blonde and blue-eyed – is still the vanilla standard of beauty and innocence in the aesthetic system that capitalism calls Christmas. Mainstream adverts and cards will engage in tokenism so as to simperingly hook in with sentimenal one-world platitudes, and sell to more than just white people, but non-white faces are still the variety sprinkled around the white standard.
It’s not the young model’s fault, of course. She’s just peddled her own image in a system of bodily commodification (as we all must peddle ourselves, one way or another, in order to get by) only to find her image purchased and used by a bunch of evil, twisted, shambolic fascist pisswizards.
(BTW, my derision may reflect the current state of the BNP, but I don’t mean to dismiss them as an archaic or dormant threat. They’re still Nazi filth and they still hurt people.)
December 29, 2013 @ 1:33 pm
If white people using images of non-white people (i.e. everybody else) is engaging in "tokenism so as to simperingly hook in with sentimental one-world platitudes," what can the white people do? They're stuffed either way – guilty of either racism or tokenism.
December 29, 2013 @ 7:39 pm
Yeah, it's hard being privileged.
December 29, 2013 @ 11:36 pm
Maybe I'm being dense, but it seems like the solution is fairly straightforward (if not easy): once white people stop having a cultural and political strangehold on culture, they will stop being (rightly) accused of tokenism or racism.
So, white people can try to help smash the shit out of white cultural hegemony. That's what they can do.
December 30, 2013 @ 3:23 am
Yes, I am privileged. What I would like to know is, how can I use my position of privilege as a white person to help non-white people? Or do I just pretend they don't exist and continue on my own sweet way?
December 30, 2013 @ 6:06 am
What is white cultural hegemony and how do I smash it? I'm Catholic – does that help? Lots of Catholics aren't white.
I'm crocheting a monkey. Is that a white thing to to?
December 30, 2013 @ 9:14 am
I think 'crocheting the monkey' is the new 'the hippopotamus will moisten'. /in-joke/
December 30, 2013 @ 12:06 pm
That's the big question, isn't it, Lucy? It's something that I've been struggling with myself. Ultimately, I think the best way to disrupt white (i.e. privileged) cultural hegemony is to promote bringing marginalized voices into mainstream discourses. I mean, as an American man my situation is a bit different from yours — but I think that the best thing I can do, right now, is to educate myself and then to share what I've learned with others. It may sound trivial — but even something like this blog adds a new voice to the mix. As a reading nerd, for me exploring the art and writing of other cultures, genders, sexualities, etc. has been very transformative. I can use my privileged position to share those voices and push for them to be heard. I guess that may be a naïve position .. I don't know … but looking at a historical example — the slave narratives of people like Frederick Douglass pushed abolitionist discourse into the white liberal mainstream of the time. So it can be done. I don't know about in the U.K., but that don't teach those perspectives in school (until you became a Humanities major in college). Also, I can share what I've learned with my kids … moving away from white hegemony will be a generational shift, aided by inevitable demographics changes. And! White hegemony also happens to be corporate hegemony … so if we smash that … bonus!
I've posted this on Jack's blog before, but I'll put here for you … it pretty much sums up my thoughts on the value of intellectually challenging white hegemony … of course, it's also very effective to get out there and protest and advocate and do some of the work in the streets.
Derrick Jensen writes in his book "The Culture of Make-Believe":
"I leave it to black people to interpret their experience of living in our culture, and to Indians their experience, and women theirs. Instead it falls to me — and others of my race and gender — to explore and articulate — and thus, I hope, help to halt — the white male experience of hatred: How did we come to enslave our continent, significantly depopulate another, and work our will on all of the others? How, in short, have we come to conquer the world? Why have we wanted to do it in the first place? And can we stop wanting it?
Although the . . . movements of history can be interesting, in and of themselves they are meaningless. Any exploration of them must return to the personal, to the particular, because that's all we've got.
If we wish to stop the atrocities, we will need to understand and change the social and economic conditions that cause them." (preface, xi-xii)."
Apologies if this is an incoherent ramble, I'm really sick this morning. Apologies if I sound naïve — this is just where my head's at right now. It's something I'm struggling with. How to be a force of change, rather than lapse into jaded self-loathing?
December 30, 2013 @ 1:11 pm
Lucy, I fear this reply may sound facetious but the best answer to “how can I use my position of privilege as a white person to help non-white people” is “by giving them up”.
It’s a bit like a former slave master taking a New Year’s Resolution to stop owning other people. He looks at these whips and leg-irons he’s already purchased and asks “now I already have these things, how can I best use them to improve race relations?” The answer is “you can’t. Just throw the bloody things out.”
Of course this is easier said than done. I mentally nodded when I read Jack’s reply. But in one way it is challenging being privileged, in that privileges often seem invisible to those who hold them.
When you say this sort of stuff, people imagine you really want to turn the whips on yourself in some endless bout of white-guilt self-flagellation. Not so. Just a bit of self-awareness is all that’s being asked for. Awareness that we’re not necessarily always entirely benign or enlightened, that it won't exactly kill us to examine our own lives and behaviour from time to time.
December 30, 2013 @ 7:08 pm
I saw the comments this morning, was going to come in after work and offer up some thoughts. Instead, I think Jacob gets the job done pretty well.