A question that seems to have been asked at least since Barack Obama became the president of United States in 2009 and one that in Britain we have been asking for a while is are we post-racial? Those who think we are post-racial considers certain events in our modern/post-modern world such as Mandela becoming the president of South Africa in 1994 and how politically blacks in South Africa were liberated (still not liberated -social-economically!). In Britain, John Sentamu became the Archbishop of York in 2005 making him, the second highest authority within the Anglican worldwide Communion. And of course the crowning acheivement Barack Obama becoming the 44th president and the first African American to hold that post was quite significant. These key markers in our shared history gives the impression that when it comes to race and racism we are making progress therefore the notion of a post-racial society.
However, recent events on both side of the Atlantic have raised tensions already discernible in our society. Lets start with Britain as that is my context. The Brexit campaigners used a very dangerous rhetoric bordering on stigmatising and demonising immigrants but of course when people are pushed on this point they always say they are refering to EU immigrants and not people from the Commonwealth. In essence, they are supposedly tackling white eastern European migration and not coloured migration such as from Africa or Asia. But now with all the racism we are seeing on our streets and public transport, it is clear that that sort of separation of migrants along geopraphy and colour has not really work out as it has been people of colour that appears to have been suffering racial abuse. I am not saying that EU migrants have not suffered abuses as well, I am however commenting on the fact that the argument about people from the Commonwealth are more than welcome is not justified in the light of recent racial and xenophobic attacks we are seeing.
The notion of being post-racial is defeated when we see far right political rhetoric stigmatising migrants. It is also defeated when people act out their own personal prejudice which was already there may I say on public transport and in our streets. Britain is not post-racial and it has never been post-racial. This is a sad and uncomfortable truth we need to face if we are to deal with these issues in the near future.
In the context of America, the recent murder of black lives in the hands of white police officers whose actions reminds us of that of KKK has raised the debate. This type of killings is not new, America only seems to have moved from previously lynching black bodies to now somehow trying to justify it through police brutality. While police murdering black people in public is not a new thing as there were more than 100 of this cases last year alone, what makes the current one caught the public’s attention is the power of social media. That it was recorded and made public for all to see means that there is irrefutable evidence that racism is real and therefore we are not post-racial.
It is crucial to acknowledge on both side of the Atlantic that we have not moved on from racism. To do otherwise is to live in a virtual world that appears so real only because we are either protected or not affected by the events of the existential realities of migrants, Black and Asian Minority Ethnic (BAME), African American, Eastern Europeans, African Caribbean, Africans, Latin Americans, Asians and the list goes on…………………………………