THE LATEST racism controversy embroiling the Royal Palace, which has resulted in the forced resignation of Lady Susan Hussey, highlights so many issues which are deeply embedded in our racist and class-ridden society. This is by no means an isolated incident. Recent Home Office figures indicate that race and nationality hate crimes rose by a shocking 73% in 2021.
This was not a case, as portrayed by some of the right-wing media, of an elderly woman who could not be expected to know any better innocently asking a Black woman where she was from. That, on its own, would have fitted the definition of ‘casual racism’. This was far worse. The outline of the conversation above shows that Ngozi Fulani, the CEO of Sistah Space, was hectored in an arrogant and entitled way. This is second nature to so many from the ruling class. Not only did Lady Hussey repeatedly question the well-known charity worker about her heritage, refusing to accept that she had been born in Britain, she also adjusted her hair in order to read her name badge.
The government sent out a junior minister, Paul Scully, to repeat the trope about ‘casual racism’. But there is nothing ‘casual’ about the racism that BAME people face daily at work and while going about their lives. It is about being excluded at work or surprise expressed that they speak so well. It manifests in thugs targeting Black households or Black people being indiscriminately stopped by the police. It reminds people of colour that Black lives do not matter.
It is the drip-drip effect of knowing that consciously or unconsciously BAME people are seen as inferior by a significant minority. A TUC report published in August 2022 found that hundreds of thousands of BAME workers face racist behaviour – from ‘banter’ and jokes, through to bullying and harassment. This is reinforced by the recent investigation by Nazir Afzal into the London Fire Brigade. He suggests that the London Fire Brigade is not alone. BAME staff are facing toxic behaviours on a daily basis.
Something very serious and unpleasant is going on in Britain today. Fear, poverty and ignorance fuelled, in part, by Brexit together with the need for the ruling class to ensure that there is an easily identifiable scapegoat for the broken capitalist system suggest that Lady Hussey’s behaviour is the tip of a very nasty iceberg.
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