What Covid Taught Us about the Discussion of Racism


My previous post was a response to a long article by Gary Younge, in The Guardian’s “The Long Read” series (“What Covid Taught Us about Racism”, 16/12/21) It is, of course, an excellent piece: well researched and reassuringly sensible in most of its conclusions. It identifies the glaring inequalities that beset British society, and the correlations between race, poverty and the negative outcomes of poverty that led to an increased vulnerability to Covid 19 among people of colour. He also points out that none of these issues are new or newly identified, yet they are urgent and (still) need to be addressed.  

Gary Younge is a wise, veteran commentator on race and society in Britain. Yet the pull of Americanised Social Justice seems to drag even his, usually highly incisive, work just a little out of focus. It just feels, you know, a little blurry, a little self-contradictory. For example Mr Younge talks about “the urgency and clarity of this moment” (my italics), while admitting “there was no representative entity to make concrete demands” and that this can lead to “a lack of democracy, clear direction, consistency or permanence” with different groups laying out “alternative visions for how the world might be understood.” There are moments,” he says, “when Britain appears engaged not so much in a debate about racism as a litany of race-based tantrums… Terms such as ‘woke’ and ‘culture war’, deprived of any meaning they once may have had are tossed about like confetti.”

Mr Younge’s perceptions, here are similar to my own, so obviously I applaud his analysis and his courage in identifying problems with a movement he seems to find heartening and exciting. 

But it doesn’t sound like “clarity” to me. 

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