Racism is welcome here

At about the time when the American word ‘racism’ began to make inroads on the British word ‘racialism’, the concept began to evolve.

It used to denote the doctrine of racial superiority used as the justification for discriminating against the races deemed inferior.

Contrary to all empirical evidence, racism then narrowed its underlying meaning to specifically white supremacism. Those who used it that way either ignored, say, Japanese racism or excused it on the assumption that the Mongoloid race was ipso facto oppressed and hence immune to such accusations.

Then simple transference went into play. Since some white people were guilty of racism, it was assumed in certain quarters that all whites were thus tainted. Step by step, calling someone a racist became the shorthand for a declaration of hatred towards all whites, regardless of any individual wrongdoing or feelings about race.

Dinosaurs who stubbornly insist that words should be used in their real meaning object that such wholesale condemnation is in itself racist. Yet they are shouted down with ease. Since the entire history of the West is white and therefore racist, the whites should just shut up and accept without ducking all the slings and arrows flung at them.

This preamble is essential to understanding the proper meaning of the Blacks Only sign exhibited by the Noël Coward Theatre in London’s West End. On two nights, tickets will only be sold to an “all-Black identifying audience”.

I don’t want to overtax your imaginations by asking you to consider what would happen if another West End theatre exhibited a Whites Only sign. My own imagination isn’t vivid enough. Even so, it’s painting pictures evoking Bosch or else Goya in his dark period against the background of Eisenstein’s footage showing a mob storming the Winter Palace.

A solitary Tory MP who asked to remain nameless said that one could “question the legality of this. In other circles it would be illegal and racial discrimination. I don’t understand why this isn’t.”

You don’t, you cryptoracist you? Well, let me explain… Actually, I already have, in the first few paragraphs above.

Jeremy Harris, the author of Slave Play, offered his own explanation. He said he was “excited” about this blatant display of illegal racism, adding that “it is a necessity to radically invite them in with initiatives that say ‘you’re invited’. Specifically you.”

It’s good to see that modern playwrights have such a sure grasp of English style – in addition to refined sensibilities.

I for one have to admire the wording of that sign, and never mind its legality. It implicitly identifies all whites as basilisks, the most terrifying creatures of European mythology who possessed a lethal gaze.

If the eyes of white people have the same murderous quality, one can understand the offer of a refuge “from the white gaze”. Suddenly, the expression “if looks could kill” takes on a literal meaning.

As a point of mandated orthography that might have escaped your attention, when ‘white’ denotes a race it must be spelled with a lower-case initial, whereas ‘Black’ is always capitalised. That establishes a racial pecking order, reversing five millennia of white oppression and colonialism. And if you stick to the old spelling, you thereby endorse those outrages. That could open you to loud rebukes or perhaps even criminal prosecution.

Explaining his explanation, Mr Harris said: “The idea of a Black Out night is to say this is a night that we are specifically inviting black people to fill up the space, to feel safe with a lot of other black people in a place where they often do not feel safe.”

If I understand correctly, one has to infer that under normal circumstances black people feel threatened in West End theatres, those hotbeds of white violence. Apparently, there’s always the danger that the predominantly white audience may produce a rope, a piece of soap and… well, you don’t need me to tell you what can happen next.

However, if you dismiss that possibility, you have to agree that Mr Harris is talking utter bilge, whose message isn’t semantic but semiotic. He is semiotically screaming hatred for our civilisation. And the worst thing is that white Guardian readers applaud with self-abnegating abandon.

This reminds me of an old, very old, sketch on Saturday Night Live, with a party of white ‘liberals’ welcoming an unsmiling Black Panther poet played by Eddie Murphy. When asked to regale the gathering with his recent work, Eddie puts a stony expression on his face and recites: “I hate white people. I hate’em left and right. I hate white people cause they is white.” Standing ovation all around, with cries of “How wonderful!”

What was satirised 40 years ago is now above satire. No theatre critic would dare mock the outrage I’ve described the way I’ve mocked it. More to the point, no police chief will issue an injunction against that illegal sign.

Police officers these days ‘take the knee’ as a sign of obeisance to black rioters. Any policeman who emulates that Tory MP and questions the legality of the Blacks Only sign will be reprimanded, possibly sacked.

This bring to mind another verse, a real one. Goethe wrote this in his Faust: “Of freedom and of life he only is deserving,/ Who every day must conquer them anew.”

Hear, hear. And we deserve neither our freedom nor indeed our life. Having already surrendered the former, we are barely clinging on to the latter. And if you think this is too macabre, just take another good look at that sign.

5 thoughts on “Racism is welcome here”

  1. What if a “differently colored” person “identifies” as black an tries to attend?

    This headline was displayed in a major New York newspaper in March 2003 when black hockey player Anson Carter was traded to the New York Rangers and the city experienced a temporary lack of electric power: Carter Debut Postponed Due to Blackout. My friends and I could not stop laughing. It seems editors have been remiss for decades now.

    Here in the U.S. we are in the throes of Black History Month. It is interesting that as much as they hate our culture, they seem to celebrate only those blacks who have made contributions (or destruction) to the West. (Much as feminists can only compare themselves to men, not celebrate their femininity.)
    Why not celebrate contributions to African culture?

  2. If THEY want to self segregate maybe it is better this way for all. At this point in time the correct thing to do.

    Just as long and everyone stays by themselves and nobody is bothered maybe it is better.

    1. I have to refer you back to the sign in question. You will be admitted if you IDENTIFY as black. Whether, or to what extent, you are genetically doesn’t matter. As I often say, blackness is these days a political concept, not a racial one.

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