One of the most disabling consequences of the post-racial lie is that people of colour are afraid to speak their truth.
It pains me to see how deeply the Lie has penetrated our consciousness and policed our behaviour and words.
Time and again we self-censor, out of fear that not to do so is to invite a world of pain on our backs.
Often we cannot name racism because we no longer know what that name means.
Our bodies are not threatened in liberal cathedrals like universities, schools, or even in tightly regulated private sector spaces. We do not find ourselves quivering at the end of a gun.
But we do find ourselves on the end of so-called “micro-aggressions” – existential death by a thousand invisible cuts. It strikes in the subtlety of being cut off mid-sentence, in the refusal to look you in the eye, the shoulder turned away, the handshake for everyone else, the smile that’s not for you.
The insidious ambiguity of institutional racism is debilitating. It is terrifying too. Those encounters which linger with sourness which could be because of anything, so we convince ourselves that they are because of nothing. They’re probably having a bad day. They’re like that with everyone. Even attempting to disentangle the knot of intersectional discrimination is exhausting, so why bother?
When we use our weapon of choice – statistics – they are thrown back at us with derision.
We say: there’s a double- digit pay gap.
They say: You’re being simplistic. Race isn’t the only factor.
We say: So what else explains wholescale underrepresentation and underpay?
They say: You can’t generalise. I know a black manager who’s paid more than I am!
We say: That’s one person. Look across the sector and tell me there isn’t a problem.
They say: It doesn’t help to play the victim.
Why utter words which will be flung back at us at a crushing height? These are the doubts and anxieties which throb inside our heads with no release but a blind trust in the miracle of passing time. It’s probably nothing. Then we berate ourselves for our victimhood, because in liberal meritocracy EVERYONECANGETONWHYCAN’T YOU. How could you forget? We have no choice but to swallow our anger, washing it down with the daily Lie until it forms a bilious lump in the pit of our stomach, a malingering sickness we can never shake.
So tell us we are post-racial. Tell us we are all equal. Tell us we don’t need white sanction. Give us to today our daily Lie.
Image credit: Nazneen Ahmed Pathak