June 22, 2006

Horse 573 - Racism?

George W may be accused of being ignorant on a number of issues and it's almost entirely excuseable in the case of football because being a US Citizen, the chances of exposure are/were so very small, but on the other subject to which this post is devoted he should be well versed. On his current visit to Europe, there was a reception with the England football team and of note is a conversation that the BBC played, between George W and England's newest recruit Theo Walcott.

Walcott: I'm the 53rd black player to be selected for England.
GW Bush: Don't you mean African-American?
Walcott: No, I mean black. My family has been in England for over 300 years, so I'm not African; I'm very much English sir.

This raises an interesting point about the subject of racism. George W probably thought that he was being PC by using the term African-American but this only applies if both criteria are met. In the case of Walcott, neither did and he was proud of his own heritage.

I wonder about other labels which have declined in use. The term Negro equally describes black people and is the literal term in both Italian and Portugese, but it is now considered either archaic or a slur. Likewise the term Oriental is a literal designation for the East. Places like Japan and China in a Eurocentic world were called the Far East but interestingly, the Middle East is still a valid use of language.

Which leads me to an interesting point, racism or racist terms only get afforded that status because of connotation and the person hearing it. On a similar note, if you called someone a Nazi, then they would take offence but not because of the political ideas of a centrallised and largely socialst state but because of the inference that they are facist or simply plain horrible. A racist or for that matter any term which exists only does so because of the negative context associated, rather than an affordable description which may otherwise be truthful.

Now I ask a pointed question - Is Wong's Chinese Laundry a candidate for reverse racism despite being run by a Chinese person presumably called Wong? Refer to the panto Aladdin and the Widow Twankey for futher reading.

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