Have race relations in Britain got better or worse since the Black Lives Matter protests here, sparked by the death of George Floyd in America?
Even to ask the question seems daft, since it seems obvious that there has been a notable deterioration.
Lots of black people have been radicalised against a society (and presumably also against its majority white inhabitants) that they now believe to be systematically conspiring against them on racial grounds. And lots of white people – especially working class white people and those from post-industrial areas with few economic opportunities – are now simmering with resentment at being told by posh London commentators they have benefited from racial privilege and must ‘educate’ themselves about this.
When media supporters of Black Lives Matter (BLM) relentlessly promote figures and incidents showing BAME individuals getting an apparently disproportionate amount of attention from police, it’s small wonder that even the politically correct Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick is moved to highlight uncomfortable facts about the “huge” over-representation of young black men in serious crime.
Likewise, when Premier League footballers all “take a knee” before every match, it’s small wonder that a plane trailing the banner “White Lives Matter, Burnley” is flown over a ground.
And anyone who believes that such feelings of resentment about being marginalised or ignored are only shared by Far Right types isn’t getting out enough.
Almost everything nowadays is being seen through the prism of race. The importing of Critical Race Theory from US academia and the penalisation of anyone in authority who contests it has imposed conditions that make the idea of living in a harmonious multi-racial society seem like a faraway pipe dream.
All of this might be contested by BLM supporters, but I must draw your – and their attention – to an extraordinary report by BBC News, Wales that was clearly designed to bolster the view that BLM campaigning is progressive and necessary but in fact demonstrates precisely the opposite.
In this article a series of BLM campaigners in Wales are interviewed about the impact the campaign has had on their lives.
One, Natera Morris from Cardiff, is quoted as saying: “I’ve had a lot of the same friends for 24 years and this has been the only thing that has divided us.” She has been left wondering whether these people were ever her friends at all. Yet, seeing as they formed and then sustained a friendship with Natera, they clearly cannot have been out and out racists in the first place.
“It’s not nice to have to throw away a long friendship over this but (BLM) is incredibly important to me,” she says.
Another campaigner, Joe Newman, fell out with a close friend who he judged to be using racist rhetoric when debating the issues raised by BLM. “This is a person I thought I knew. They didn’t even give me a chance to explain my views and to help educate them – they just refused,” says Joe.
He has removed half a dozen people he considered close friends from his social media circle.
Nadia Thomas, a BLM organiser from Chepstow, reports a similar experience, saying she was surprised to get a negative response from someone who had been in her life for years.
“Not all of these people who have a defensive position are necessarily racist. It was just their defensive response,” she says.
Naturally, this being the BBC, the report concludes with the Welsh Government saying it will step up its emphasis on racial education with “new learning resources” coming on stream soon to “improve the teaching of Black, Asian and minority ethnic experiences and history”.
But, of course, there is another way of looking at all this.
A saner way: A bunch of well-intentioned young people in Wales have fallen out with long-term friends after becoming fixated on race off the back of the BLM protests. Their friends were and are not racists and may well have had a genuinely colour-blind approach to forming a social circle – what we used to fondly regard as the ideal. But the ideal has now become impossible for all those who will not tamely submit to an analysis that defines ’whiteness‘ as a privileged characteristic that must be corrected and apologised for (what one of the BLM interviewees referred to as allowing him to “help to educate them”).
So, sorry lads and lasses of BLM, but it’s you who have in baked discord and division to no obvious good or useful end. At a peer group level you have seen long-term friendships break up, which must be sad and painful. I expect this is happening in multi-racial friendship circles all over the UK at the moment.
If I decided to obsess about historic injustice and suddenly started wandering around hyping my vaguely Irish Catholic heritage and demanding that my mates apologised to me for what Cromwell did in Drogheda and Wexford and for all those “No dogs, no blacks, no Irish” signs in 1960s boarding house windows, demanding they allow me to ‘educate’ them in correct political thinking, I reckon my own social circle might contract as well.
But I wouldn’t conclude that this meant there should be yet more official and media emphasis on the ancient injustices of Irish history or that the volume should be turned up to eleven until everyone agreed with me. I’d conclude that becoming a pain in the arse had turned me into Billy No Mates.