Here’s to being Cassandra all over again…

What I said would happen yesterday with the promotion of bad history as an argument about David Starkey was well born out yesterday. It fell into a black and white argument with both sides being absolutely and utterly deluded, racist, small-minded and pathetic – reason had no place in it at all. Well done DS and well done Nabil Abdul Rashid. You both pushed black/white tensions up a notch.

I feel defensive of being white – I always have. I feel the weight of my white ancestors on my shoulders. Luckily I’m a woman and this makes me feel a little better, because my type have been a persecuted minority, and continue to be so. Heaven forbid I should a white man. I’m suddenly responsible for everything after the outbursts yesterday online. This is what I said about skeletons falling out of the closet. 500 years worth of skeletons about slavery and racism and mistreatment and black holocausts and hideous crimes perpetrated in the name of expansion all fell out of that closet. Boom boom boom boom boom. All rattling their bones and providing visions of Christmas future if we don’t deal with our sins. The problem is, when a person of any colour starts dragging the skeletons out of the closet, the other colours go to their closet and drag a few out, until all that happens is a big tumbling pile of bones of ancestors is on the floor and we’re all using them to hit each other with.

Yesterday, I saw vile and nasty racism from white trash who should know better. I laughed when some of the black champions of history mentioned white advancement, because it sure as hell doesn’t seem like we’ve advanced very far. Do they watch Jeremy Kyle? Most of his clients are one colour, and it’s not black or Asian. We’ve all got the rednecks, the white trash, the trailer trash, the racaille, and it’s vile and ugly because it’s like a nasty cliché of how we’ve failed as people.

But then I heard just some of the most outrageous statements I’ve ever heard about black history – which made me laugh out loud and then stupidly try to challenge. Maybe I could have patronised these people, continued to let them believe nonsense and silliness, treated them like Jake when he gets argumentative or like Steve treats me when I get argumentative and just gone ‘Okay’. But I can’t. Because every misunderstanding spreads a little lie that sits on the racist cracker. And let’s get this straight. Very few people in England believe it was one race or another. Nobody’s saying it’s white or black. I’ve not seen many statistics, and the ones I have seen are that it’s poverty that’s the over-riding factor. I don’t want to get into the causes – manifold as they may be – of that poverty – but that’s the uniting factor. And race shouldn’t be the dividing factor.

Despite this, I heard sub-Saharan Africans say many, many times that the Moors were black. This was a really big fallacy spread by the response. And I know about the Moors. I know a lot about the Moors because I’ve got 20,000 words of my own research I wrote about them sitting waiting for me to get my arse in gear and write a story about Sigilmassa. I know about the Maghreb. I know about the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians and the Imazighen and the Arab settlers and the spread of the Moorish dynasties and then their decline. I also have some great Moroccan friends whose roots are bedouin Imazighen of many varieties. They had fun teaching me ‘berber’ words and Arabic words and I walked with them through the Atlas mountains and they told me their view of the Maghreb, on the Arabic world, on Morocco, on life. We spent three days just walking and talking. I’m a curious girl. I ask lots of questions. I want to know stuff.

Let’s take Zinedine Zidane as an example, since he’s one of the most famous ‘Berber’ faces. I hate that word, but he is an example of your typical ‘Moor’. He’s an Algerian Kabyle. Now excuse me for stating the obvious, but nothing makes Zidane black, unless he goes for a little make-up. If he said ‘Is it because I is black?’ like Ali G, we’d all laugh, just like we do at Ali G, because like Ali G, he’s not black. In fact, he shares more of an appearance with Ali G than he does with Nelson Mandela.

But yesterday, sub-Saharan Africans are getting all their knickers in a twist about the Moors, feeling forced to say they were black. That’s news to all the Alis I met who weren’t black in the slightest. And yes, there were black skinned people as part of this ‘Non-Homogeneous’ group (I pointed this out a million times yesterday) but the Moors looked to Mecca. Their towns were built on Islamic principles. Their language is Arabic. Their scholars weren’t African in view or belief, they were Persian, Middle Eastern, Arab – call it what you will. Their names are Arabic and their whole world was Eastern looking, not Southern looking. If not in skin colour, in culture, in belief and in society – they were Arabic.

I am willing to accept that Islam and Arabic unite some north African countries with some sub-Saharan African countries. There are large Muslim populations in many Eastern African countries. But the Maghreb people – the Moors – have more in common with their Persian relatives than the Somalis, genetically speaking. The only things that unite a Moroccan with a Somali is religion and language, not skin colour. And yet there are hundreds – and I’m not kidding – of comments from black people yesterday, all militant about the Moors being black. And not a bit black. All black.

This kind of skewed history comes from white mouths, Asian mouths, black mouths – anyone who wants to twist history to suit their view. And yes, blacks, like women, were repressed for a long time (blacks less than women, by about 3,000 years, but I digress…) and their contribution to history has been both written out and white-washed – and didn’t exist in the first place – just like peasant history doesn’t exist and women’s history doesn’t exist – because we were too busy living  and being repressed to go round contributing to art and literature, music and philosophy. No offence to any one other than white intellectual men, but by and large your achievements are minimal. Blacks, women and poor people didn’t create a Beethoven or a Michelangelo or a Leonardo or a Shakespeare because we were too busy being repressed, and just because I can find some semi-okay poetry from someone in a skirt in the Seventeenth Century doesn’t mean it’s as good as Donne or Shelley. I can’t champion it because it’s rather pedestrian. Jane Austen is funny, but she isn’t Shakespeare or Shelley because her experience was ‘the drawing room’ – and as much as I’d like to, I can’t go around saying Shakespeare was a woman or that Shelley was a black because they weren’t, and it just makes me look like an idiot with an agenda if I try.

Yet this is what was happening yesterday. I totally get that blacks have a right to be angry. 500 years of subjugation will do that to a person. Let’s talk about the patriarchs who deliberately wrote women out of religion and law, shall we? That started 3,500 years ago and we’re still suffering. Don’t you men know it!

But all these skeletons were just coming and coming as people dragged them out of the cupboard. For your Hitler and Stalin, I give you one Idi Amin and Robert Mugabe. I give you Pol Pot and Chairman Mao (let’s not spare the far east, hey, as we’re dragging out the skeletons?!) For your slavery I give you Darfur and civil war and Rwanda and Chad and South Western Sahara. For your slavery, I give you female circumcision. Ad infinitum in a universal tit-for-tat. Ironic considering the original poster said he didn’t want that….

But unfortunately, that’s what happens. My main concern was that the video would go viral. Luckily, it didn’t (or hasn’t so far) and therefore hasn’t attracted the bigots from either end of the spectrum all trotting out myths and lies about history and social demographics to suit their argument.

It’s so ironic that ‘we’ ‘get rid’ of Al Qaida – Bin Laden is assassinated and the alleged kingpins in the Al Qaida network disintegrate – Muslims are killed on the streets in the riots and show England how to truly do community and belief and came out to defend their England – and as the universal racist zeitgeist turns from Islam, DS seems to a little inadvertently and possibly very consciously, spearhead the new racist zeitgeist – black against white. Ironic, because these are the two communities most poor and most troubled. Poor White working class boys and African-Caribbean boys are the two most underachieving groups in Britain. Interested to know who achieves the best? Why Far Eastern boys of course. The Chinese, the Malaysians, the Koreans – their achievement outstrips everybody else’s, followed by Indian boys whose achievement is not far behind. The only way we can all aspire is if we end the tit-for-tat blame game and the blind allegiance to racism from whatever side we come from. People of all colours do shite things to each other. For every high achieving Chinese boy, there’s one who runs up massive debts or falls in with Chinese gangs – for every Indian who becomes a surgeon, there’s one who’ll steal a car from his family in B&Q. People are people, as Depeche Mode once said, and the more we try to categorise ourselves, the more damage we do.

A little hope for the morning from Mr Bob:

3 thoughts on “Here’s to being Cassandra all over again…

  1. They don’t let sensible people run for parliament and they certainly wouldn’t let me. I’m doomed to tell the truth and to be honest, I’m far too intolerant of people who can’t or won’t lift themselves out of the gutter. I come across as a fascist female Jeremy Kyle and I’d have to either micro-manage everything or let a handful of my minions do my bidding! I’m not even a secret megalomaniac. I’d be thumping shoes on desks like Khrushchev did if people refused to be sensible. Can you imagine me with Mugabe? I’d get so mad at him I’d end up putting him in detention

  2. Plus, I’d send anyone who moaned to do two weeks in Syria and see how the majority of the world live their lives. Won’t get a job? Fine. Go to Sudan and distribute aid among the Janjaweed and the flippin militant Muslims and then come back and tell me you’re not the luckiest b’stard on the planet for living in England.

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