The Oscars, Black Lives Matter and the Racism Industry

From the late-70s till the early-90s, there must have been few major anti-racism protests or festivals in London that I didn’t attend. One of the last, and certainly the craziest, was a 1993 march against a BNP bookshop which had opened in Welling, and was suspected to be a closet party HQ. This was my only experience of being baton-charged by mounted police, and it was an experience I’d rather not repeat.

The anti-racism movement of that generation was a successor to the great liberation movements of the postwar era: anti-colonialism and civil rights. Just as those movements liberated colonies and established equal rights, so our movement helped make organised British racism and anti-Semitism unacceptable, and led to the UK being one of the world’s least racially segregated nations: today, over 6% of British infants are racially mixed. The extent of our victory is demonstrated by the fact that the anti-Muslim English Defence League pushed forward its black and Asian members as spokespeople; even the far-right has had to become politically correct in tune with the new Britain.

Predictably, as organised racism collapsed, the political and academic establishment belatedly noticed the problem, it became fashionable to be ‘anti-racist’, and huge resources were dedicated to fighting yesterday’s battles. Much of this happened in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence murder in 1993, following which Central government, councils and other funding sources increasingly found budgets for ‘diversity’.

This meant that there was money in being ‘racially oppressed’, but none in being happily integrated. The Racism Industry was born, and the spoils went to those who were most insistent that they were racially disadvantaged. Diversity Managers appeared in organisations across the public, and then the private sector. No Diversity Manager would ever declare the ‘glass ceiling’ shattered – that would put them out of work. It was in their interests to find sexism and racism wherever they looked.

Likewise, politicians, especially Labour ones, appointed race advisers; but they invariably selected individuals who claimed to see racism everywhere. Black people who pointed out that racism was steeply declining (and there were many) – or that racism was simply not the biggest problem faced by black people – would make for unsuitable race advisers. So politicians surrounded themselves with a handful of angry black voices, and made policy decisions based on the views of an unrepresentative minority.

And of course, since there was money to be made in being an angry black person, many popped up to compete for the new jobs. Ironically, therefore, the more oppressed a person claimed to be, the more money they could earn from the new politics. Britain’s angriest black man, Lee Jasper, made a good living as an adviser of doom and gloom to the Livingstone mayoralty.

In all this, as so many other things, Brits were merely copying a business model invented in America. The magnificent civil rights movement, having won so much by the early 70s, was swiftly taken over by self-publicists. From Al Sharpton to Black Lives Matter, the people claiming to be most oppressed were those who understood the power of the racism dollar (this shift from genuine activism to business was beautifully captured in the modern classic book The Bonfire of the Vanities).

All of this victimhood has repelled black people from the left, just as it has repelled white working class people who are increasingly told they are ‘privileged’. The left has become wealthier and whiter while ironically claiming to see racism everywhere. In fact, it can often be noted that the more politically correct people are, the less likely they are to have non-white friends to gently point out that the angry shouting is not representative of most black people. Those white people with least personal contact with non-whites are those most likely to believe and propagate the stories emanating from racism industry pundits. A parade of well-meaning but misinformed white commentators, eager to correct non-existent inequalities, jump on race industry campaigns.

Ironically, it was my black friends who saved me from jumping on board with the racism industry. The message that black children are held back by ‘the system’ compared to their white peers is a destructive and frustrating one for black parents trying to get their kids to study hard. Most black people, while being fully aware of the reality of racism, have little time for the activists who peddle the myth that black people are being materially held back by it. As I have blogged, the success of African immigrants (who actually outperform whites by many measures) gives the lie to the idea that skin colour is a cause of failure. When it comes to economic success, the black British community doesn’t have a collective problem, though sections of it (primarily working class communities originating in the Caribbean) clearly do.

The recent outrage over the lack of black nominees at the Oscars is a typical racism industry product. The angriest black voices are those that get most often repeated across the media – social and mass. These voices are amplified by white ‘liberal’ commentators. And black people who dare challenge the idea that they are oppressed are dismissed as ‘self-hating’, ‘Uncle Toms’, and the standard parade of other insults created by the racism industry to silence black people who choose not to be victims.

So once the shouting and boycotts were over (and racism industry had counted its winnings), it turned out that black people are actually not under-represented in the Oscars at all.

Graph: The Economist
Graph: The Economist

So nominations and awards for black people are pretty much in line with the black American population overall. In fact, in terms of awards won, black people are slightly over-represented. Meanwhile Latinos and Asians are seriously under-represented; but there was no civil rights movement for Asians, so there is no Asian racism industry. There are no Asian boycotts of the Oscars because there are no funding mechanisms to reward Asian people who might call for a boycott.

Are the Oscars therefore racist against Asians and Latinos? No. The fact is that different demographics experience success in different industries, for various historical, social and economic reasons. Asians are hugely over-represented in technology. Does this mean the tech industry really, really loves Asians? And nobody would take seriously a white boycott of the hip-hop industry, where white performers are massively under-represented.

Again and again, statistics like these undermine the claims of ‘systemic racism’ and ‘oppression’ that have, strangely, become increasingly common as the worst signs of true racism have evaporated. This is why the racism industry relies on anecdote rather than statistics: always an indicator of something to hide.

Those people who genuinely anti-racist must realise that the racism industry is hugely racist itself, and is exacerbating racial tensions. This is quite deliberate. What better way to prop up such an industry than create more racism? Labelling whites ‘privileged’, regardless of their economic status, is deeply and deliberately provocative, and designed to push working class white people into the arms of the far-right. Fascist street protests are almost guaranteed to push frightened politicians into increasing racism industry funding.

The greatest losses from left-wing thought in the past decades have been the core concepts of class-consciousness and solidarity. Martin Luther King, the greatest figure of the civil rights movement, did not think poor whites were ‘privileged’; he understood that the problems of poor blacks were largely shared with poor whites, and as his thinking evolved, he moved towards opposing poverty for all races, and away from a focus on black community issues. When he was shot dead in 1968, he was involved in discussions for the creation of a “Poor People’s Campaign“. (Notably, Malcolm X also evolved his thought in the same direction, and he was shot dead in 1965 by members of the early racism industry).

To unite Americans across the racial divide would truly have shaken America’s power structures. But the great thinkers of the 1960s gave way to self-serving bigots, determined to do the exact opposite: to reinforce racial barriers and destroy attempts at class solidarity.

Black Lives Matter is an illustration of how the racism industry, and the new left, are stoking up racial division rather than reducing it. In the past I would regularly post news of police shootings on social media, until I began to realise that news of white deaths was being ignored, and black deaths amplified, in order to create the (false) idea that most shootings were racial in intent. While we can recite the names of black police victims – Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Sandra Bland – no white victims have been popularised. There appears to be almost a fear of sharing news of white deaths, and so they are not discussed. Yet 578 white people (more than half the total) were killed by US police last year. Can you name any of them?

If he were alive today, Martin Luther King would have sought to unite grieving families under a single banner, regardless of their race. Instead, the very name of the campaign is designed to exclude grieving white, Latino and Asian widows and children from the pity-fest.

Self-serving morons tend to copy self-serving morons; so it is that a new petition on change.org is labelling the Brit Awards racist because only 5 out of 53 nominations (9.4%) have gone to black people. It is unclear whether the petitioner uses ‘black’ to mean ‘non-white’ in general. Only about 4% of the UK population is black and the entire non-white population is 11% – the Brit Awards are hardly unrepresentative of the British population.

Yes, the Brits celebrate shitty mainstream music, and (in my humble opinion), black and urban artists are far more creative at the cutting edge of music. I personally avoid dance and live music that isn’t black-dominated. But there isn’t racism here, just a dull music mainstream that is slow to catch up with underground music trends.

The racism industry will die when the new left accepts the dishonest nature of the ‘systemic racism’ narrative. Until then, the left will continue to be a force of racial division, rather than – as it once was – of unity.