The Lionesses and The Ugly Face of New Racialism.
Recently, the English women’s football team has been enjoying some well earned press coverage. They have been dominating the sport at the top level, including a record win of 8-0 against Norway, and are set to take on Germany (boooooo!) in the final. Really quite remarkable, and it seems like the Lionesses, unlike the Lions, are extremely competent at the top level of their sport.
As usual, this success didn’t come without its fair share of negative commentary as well; there have been vitriolic discussions about the pay gap between mens and women’s football, lots of online commentary ridiculing the women’s sport and we had the wonderful contribution of the BBC’s Eilidh Barbour who made the spectacular observation that all 11 first choice players and the 5 subs were, inexplicably, white.
Barbour went on to lament the “lack of diversity” in the women’s game and the abundance of white faces, in what can only be described as a naked example of mainstream, legitimate racism. No just racism in the banal, postmodern liberal sense of talking about things like white guilt or white privilege, subtle and more nuanced as that racism is. No, what we have here is classic, textbook, weapons grade “these people are x, y or z colour and I don’t like it”.
It shouldn’t really be surprising to anyone that this is now acceptable discourse in this country. We saw the same thing happen when channel 4’s Jon Snow saw fit to comment on the abundance of white faces at the Brexit “peoples march” in 2019. We are seeing the prophecies of the conservative commentariat coming to fruition in real time: we are seeing the resurgence of a nasty racialist society.
We are seeing the resurgence of the type of racialism that saw houses burned and businesses smashed up, the kind of racialism that legitimised discrimination through all sorts of rhetorical means, grounded in “sound” and “righteous” thinking. Diversity is the new eugenics; it is a concept ostensibly grounded in intellectualism and used to legitimise contemptible ideas with a politically salient theory.
“That’s ridiculous” I hear you say, with genuine horror in your voice at the idea of me comparing the diversity agenda to eugenics, but play with a few ideas for a second: how would an all black England women’s team make you feel? If your answer to that question is positive in any way, then I invite you to answer another question: why? Why is your reaction to an all black England women’s team positive? How have we got to this point socially?
There are a lot of answers to this question. One would be that an all black team would indicate how far we have come since the dark days of 20th Century racism in sport and that an all black women’s team would, therefore, represent massive social progress. Another might be that an all black team would be functionally different to an all white team, because an all black team couldn’t have used white privilege or the power of their “whiteness” to get to the top; they would have to earn it against the odds.
You might also say that diversity and inclusion are intrinsically good things, not recognising for a moment that an “all black” team would be just as lacking in diversity as an all white team. Oops… On the other hand, you might simply be honest and conclude that you wouldn’t mind an all black team because you don’t hate black people like you do with whites.
Of course, we never explain this new racialism for what it is- hate- smuggling its way into our social conversation as legitimate cultural commentary. We never identify that when some reporter laments “white faces” that what they are saying is in essence “the fewer the white people, the better”. We never pause for a second and look at the damage that the rhetoric of people like the BBC and other mainstream media outlets against the majority, indigenous population of a country is doing. We never embrace this new racialism for what it is: a social cancer.
The truth of the matter is that from this debacle with the Lionesses we have learned a valuable lesson; its not enough to be positive towards minorities, to encourage them into anything and everything, to invite and welcome them into all corners of our society and culture, as the British strive to do almost ubiquitously now. No, it isn’t enough to treat minorities as equals; we must treat them as superior.
To have minority representation is to be better than without. To have a brown face is better than to have a white face. People are being reduced to nothing but their racial characteristic by these diversity fascists, in much the same way as they were with the old school racists of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The implication of this whole conversation is that to see white faces is either inconsequential or overtly negative, but to see black or brown faces is overtly positive in every situation.
The cultural atmosphere at the moment has it that if you were picking a team of athletes, a government cabinet, a cast for an advert or TV show, or any job role in the country, and you find yourself choosing white face after white face, you must ask the question “could any black or brown faces do this job? Not necessarily to the same standard, but to an acceptable standard?”. This cultural atmosphere is being legitimised by this totalitarian focus on identity and the politics that come with it from these mainstream media outlets. Horrible ideas are being repackaged and finding a new enthusiastic fan base. Or maybe, their old fan base just changed a little…
This isn’t just simplistic speculation of some fringe right wing extremist, either, though the new racialists love the convenience of that riposte to any criticism. We can visibly see this effect in action, not through fringe academic studies or highly laboured government statistics, but from a simple cursory glance at the British women’s athletics team, the British mens 100m track running team, the celebration of all black episodes of Eastenders, and a host of other things throughout our society.
The effects of this are, of course, passive, and are permitted because basically no one in this country is an old school racist anymore, and anyone who is, gets completely demolished when their abhorrent attitude is revealed. We have a sensitivity to these racial issues that is unique of any issue in our culture. Racism is often touted as the worst of all evils. It is therefore extremely expensive, socially speaking, to call these new racialists out, because you risk having to defend the image of arguing against someone who is fighting for “progress” and reporting on “injustice.”
These new racialists have smuggled their ideas into the mainstream in such a sublime way that so many, if not most, go completely unchallenged. With this lack of challenge comes an ostensible social acceptance of the ideas and the implications that come with them, and it is this passive acceptance- a kind of cultural osmosis of ideas- that we end up thinking it’s acceptable to criticise one of the best teams in women’s football at the moment for being to god damn white.
And yes, I am aware that there was a lot of backlash from the right wing press (thank God) but it doesn’t matter. In fact, it simply intensifies the dichotomy between the “progressive” position of the left and the “regressive” position of the right. It adds nothing but authority to the cause of these new racialists, as they revel in the fact that so many of the people they hate are bothered by their words and attitudes. This type of language, this race shaming, is becoming the new normal. Ohh, how I always loathed normal.
S.john is a British college and university educator. Currently in his late 20s and writing his second book, John comes from a working class, ex industrial powerhouse northern town, and channels his unique life perspective into his writings. A devoted father and soon to be husband, John wants to be a part of shaping a better world for his kids and future generations. His book is called, Politicology, The Power of ideas. Find it here.