This is the claim, that we British are so offended by the enhanced melanin of the Duchess of Sussex that we have driven her out of the country by our beastliness.
As the Royal scandal rumbles on, so too the metrollectual discourse that the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were right to flee Brexit Britain, a land of lascivious institutional bigotry and mildewed racial imperialism. This is proving an irresistible hypothesis, not only in the unburstable London bubble, but on the pathologically self-absorbed shores of East Coast America too.
Not least at the headquarters of The New York Times, a newspaper that has delighted in running colour pieces over the last three-and-a-half years on the UK’s allegedly surging hate crimes and Leaver nostalgia for the “lost patrimony” of casual English racism.
So the newspaper’s opinion piece, by British commentator Afua Hirsch, headlined, “Black Britons Know Why Meghan Markle Wants Out”, is as unsurprising as it is troubling.
That piece is here:
Her treatment has proved what many of us have always known: No matter how beautiful you are, whom you marry, what palaces you occupy, charities you support, how faithful you are, how much money you accumulate or what good deeds you perform, in this society racism will still follow you.
In Britain’s rigid class society, there is still a deep correlation between privilege and race. The relatively few people of color — and even fewer if you count only those who have African heritage — who rise to prominence and prosperity in Britain are often told we should be “grateful” or told to leave if we don’t like it here.
To which the correct response is, if we’re too polite for the Anglo Saxon Wave this really deserves, is get over yourself Afua.
Sure Britain contains racists, there’s no society ever which hasn’t. Equally certainly there are aspects of British society which can be viewed as racist – this has equally certainly been true of every society ever.
And yet the really important thing about Britain and race? It’s less important here than it is nearly anywhere else on this planet. I say this with considerable experience of other places upon it. Try talking to anyone with that melanin enhancement who has walked around the streets of Moscow. Of anyone who looks even vaguely Gypsy in Central Europe – shops in expensive parts of Vienna have been known to be very tooth sucky about dark hair, dark eyes and a good tan.
And writing about how racist Britain is in the newspaper of a city which contains Harlem, a country which has those HUD built vertical slums that Randy Newman tells us about in Rednecks, well, there’s a certain over-reaching there perhaps.
Because, and I know many won’t get this given the shrieking that accompanies any discussion of race in the UK, we’re a very much less racist society than damn near any- and every- where else. We might even say that in human societies this is about as good as it gets given the available evidence.
As to how we deal with it in the long term it will be as we have with every other immigrant wave since the Neolithic. We shag each other and three generations down the road no one knows nor cares. Which is, to be fair, a thought to be greeted with a certain amusement given George Mikes and his observations upon the English. The people who have hot water bottles instead of a sex life use that thing they don’t have to build the integrated society. We’ve done it with the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Vikings, Normans, Huguenot, more recently the Jews from the Pale, the Irish, Catholics and it’s happening right now to Afro Caribbeans – the out marriage rate is such that it’s going to disappear as a distinctive grouping soon enough. Other than, perhaps, a slight cafe au lait tinge plus that Englishly unlikely ability to dance.
Squealing about how Racist Britain is just doesn’t work as soon as you lift your eyes and peer at what the rest of the world is like.
As that position of Afua Hirsch shows. A thoroughly racist society does not take a double immigrant (part Jewish, part Ghanaian), provide one of the finest educations in the world (Oxford), allow them to qualify as a lawyer then provide a good metropolitan living on TV, radio and as a columnist in one of the major national newspapers. Nor, of course, would a patriarchal one offer that to a woman. The very soapbox we’re being harangued from shows what drivel the contentions are.
It ain’t all perfect fer sure. But dang woman, we’re doing pretty bloody well compared to anywhere else.