Unintentional Racism

Yesterday, an MP got suspended for using ‘a racist term’ in public, while talking about Brexit.

Anne Marie Morris, the MP for Newton Abbot used the term “n****r in the woodpile“, in a similar context to ‘the elephant in the room’ – i.e. something that shouldn’t be discussed, but needed to be.

Her excuse afterwards was “The comment was totally unintentional.” – which is what I have an issue with.

You see, if a comment like that, with such a loaded word – and particularly if you’re also a politician, and thus likely to be recorded on everything you say, for fuck’s sake – then I agree, it probably was unintentional. As in “not thought about”.

But really all that tells me is that it’s likely that such words and attitudes are part of her everyday life, thoughts, and experience.  And that’s where the story should really be – that she perceives these words and phrases as ‘normal’, that they’re something that’s part of her unconscious thoughts and speech.

It’s not “I used the wrong phrase”, or “I mis-spoke”.  It’s just “unintentional” – used so normally it wasn’t even worthy of a thought.

I can (sorta kinda) live with people who use racism intentionally.  They’re at least voicing an opinion – albeit one I don’t like – and a mindset that goes with it.

But unintentional and unconscious racism? That shit’s pernicious, because the people who do it don’t even realise it’s bad…


One Comment on “Unintentional Racism”

  1. Z says:

    Yes, I agree – I don’t think she intended any racism and, in fact, I don’t feel that it is an intentionally racist term in itself, but it does use a racist word that has been unacceptable for decades. A friend of mine, who is ten years older than me, told me some years ago that she’d been clothes shopping with her aged dad. When asked what colour trousers he wanted, he said “I was thinking of a nice n****** brown” and she was embarrassed and explained to him that it didn’t have to be an insulting context to be an insulting word. If my friend knew that when she was 65, several years ago, this much younger MP should have known it too and not, unthinkingly, used it. In this day and age, what person in the public eye speaks unthinkingly anyway? Idiot.

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