Guilt and self-loathing pervades the ‘we must do better’ responses of businesses and institutions over #BLM – it’s truly pathetic
is an author and social commentator. He is an emeritus professor of sociology at the University of Kent in Canterbury. Author of How Fear Works: The Culture of Fear in the 21st Century. Follow him on Twitter @Furedibyte
It took only one email from an otherwise unknown university graduate, Kennedy Mitchum, to embarrass the Merriam-Webster Dictionary to agree to “update” its definition of racism. When called upon, like numerous individuals and organisations, Merriam-Webster unhesitatingly took the knee.
Like numerous other elite institutions, this age-old authoritative dictionary decided that accommodation of a new reality is the better part of valour!
Suddenly every celebrity and institution has decided to atone for the sin of racism by literally getting on one knee and calling for forgiveness. Suddenly, every elite institution has transformed itself into guilt-ridden supplicants.Also on rt.com Destroy EVERYTHING! Will culture police keen to purge historical racism turn to museums, galleries and libraries next?
Typically they have sent out letters and circulars promising “to do better” and deal with their institutionalised racism. A message circulated by Simon Henderson, the headmaster of the most prestigious posh school in the UK, Eton College, illustrates this studied performance of the confessional.
Henderson notes that, while the school has sought to make itself more inclusive, “we have to have the institutional humility to appreciate that we still have more to do.” Other prestigious institutions, like the British Museum, have issued similar statements.
Calls for forgiveness are accompanied by banal gestures that are meant to demonstrate solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. As usual, Hollywood leads the way. The global media company HBO has decided to pull ‘Gone With The Wind,’ considered a classic of American cinema, from its platform. Not to be outdone, the BBC announced that the TV show, ‘Little Britain’ will be removed from BBC iPlayer, Netflix and BritBox due to the use of blackface by its main characters.Also on rt.com HBO Max has pulled ‘Gone With the Wind’ from its service in order to fight racism and, frankly my dear, I DO give a damn!
Without a doubt, there must be a small army of censors working out which song or film is likely to offend the sensibility of protesters. Changing words and getting rid of films is one way of communicating to the world that you too are metaphorically taking the knee. In this indecent haste to whitewash society, just about anything that someone finds offensive can be targeted.
The demand to rid the world of offending words and symbols is driven by a cultural mood that literally searches for targets that can quench its appetite for being offended. That is why protesters during last week’s London protest decided that even the statue of Abraham Lincoln was offensive and therefore had to be defaced.
If Lincoln, who played a historic role in the struggle to end slavery, can become a suitable target for protest, what else has to disappear from our landscape?
It is now widely acknowledged that more and more statues and symbols of Britain’s history will go. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has set up a diversity commission to review London landmarks. Its aim is to change the public landscape to create an offense-free safe space.Also on rt.com Sadiq Khan sets up a commission for tearing down London’s statues as he attempts to drag the capital from 2020 to Year Zero
The appeasement of the vandalism of historic monuments is symptomatic of the willingness of the political and cultural establishment to roll over and even embrace the sentiments expressed by its critics. Consequently, almost overnight, support for Black Lives Matters has acquired the character of an official doctrine.
Companies now market their products highlighting their support for BLM. As usual, Unilever, the wokest of woke global corporations, leads the way. Its Instagram post declared: “we have Responsibility for Racial Justice”. It stated that Unilever has pledged more than a million dollars to organisations working for racial equality.
Not to be outdone, 18 fashion and beauty brands announced that they are donating money to Black Lives Matter. A few days after this statement, it was announced that now 43 fashion and beauty brands were donating to the cause.
Advertisements promoting beauty products now come across as serious political statements. Glossier no longer only sells skincare products, it is also in the business of marketing racial justice. Its Instagram post states: “We stand in solidarity with the fight against systemic racism, white supremacy, and the historic oppression of the Black community.”
In some instances, celebrity power has joined up with businesses to promote their brands through what is fast becoming a symbolic Black Lives Matter franchising operation. Rihanna’s lingerie brand Savage x Fenty posted a plea on Instagram calling for people to #PullUp. “Now’s not the time to stay silent or stand by. Pull TF Up,” it declares.
Online influencers have also joined in to exploit the opportunities provided by the Black Lives Matter economy. If you are interested, you can listen to YouTube star Eva Guttowski on what influencers and brands can do to support Black Lives Matter.
As celebrities and influencers pile in to advertise their support for the protesters, can the woke Royals Meghan and Harry be far behind? Of course not! According to a so-called “royal expert,” Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are “shifting focus” from their “impact of coronavirus on their charities” to devoting their energies into the Black Lives movement. It seems that this celebrity couple, who are currently residing at Hollywood mogul Tyler Perry’s $18-million mansion are “passionate” about Black Lives Matter. You will be delighted to discover that Meghan sees herself as a “role model” who can speak out on the issue of racial equality.
So, while skincare companies, luxury brands and Meghan and Harry get on with their genuinely privileged lives, ordinary folk are meant to acknowledge their own white privilege. Something is rotten – and not just in the state of Denmark.
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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.