Sociological Images is one of numerous feeds that I have in my Feedly. Often there’s an exposure of some blatantly outdated points of view; generally not by the authors. Which is what made their article on racism on BBC’s Top Gear show stand out like a sore thumb.
This clip reminds us that there are still people out there who will make race-based attacks and plenty of people, note the audience, who will laugh. Many white people truly do oppose racism and they want people of color to trust them; they want the benefit of the doubt. But occasional exposure to people like this, even if just on television, and the ongoing daily experience of prejudice, some mild, some severe, plus the hundreds of things that happen every week that may have been racism or may have been somebody having a bad day, add up. This makes it very scary to trust white people. Every “benefit of the doubt” has the potential to backfire.
It shows, once again, that context is everything. The show hosts go to great lengths to pull no punches and are happy to bag everything. And I mean everything: Italians, French, Spaniards, Germans, Scots, Irish, Welsh, English … different shires / towns / villages … you name it, they’ll bag it if it helps with the show. Rather than racist it makes them xenophobic.
But that’s not the reason I’m writing this. Look at the emphasised sentences in the quote above. "Scary to trust white people." and "Many white people […] oppose racism and want people of colour to trust them". Tell me I’m wrong, but what these sentences show is an underlying racism of the author. It betrays a belief that only white people are capable of racism. It follows that the author believes that "people of colour" are distrustful of "white people" because "white people" are capable of something that "people of colour" aren’t capable themselves. Silly? Of course. Naive? Even more so. Racist? You bet. Anyone that has ever spent time in a culture that is predominantly non-white will tell you that white people do not hold monopoly over racism.
So please, don’t go overboard with political correctness. It insults everyone involved.