Does racism litter our day to day interactions?

According to Chante Joseph racism litters our day to day interactions – so she made a video series on how to stop being racist. These are her words, not mine and posting does not mean I subscribe to her philosophy. 

 

I hope these videos will give people enough knowledge to not only evaluate their own actions and behaviours, but also challenge others to do better.

For too long discourse around racism in the UK has been stuck on the question of whether or not racism even exists. Not only is this a form of gaslighting, but it ignores this country’s history of well-documented racial tensions.

This why myself and Channel 4 have created a new web series. How Not To Be Racist doesn’t focus solely on the huge and unfathomable perceptions of racism but more so the ways in which microaggressions litter our day to day interactions. This series looks at the history of racism and how its legacy shapes our interactions today, normalising very problematic points of view.

Chante Joseph - How Not to be a Racist - A satirical response

The funny side!

While studying at university I began to learn and understand more about how racism, particularly on the inter-personal level, operates in the UK. I was often baited into draining and time-consuming arguments about my humanity. I spent hours on Facebook warring with random students in the comment section shocked at how overwhelmingly ignorant people could be.
Looking back through my Facebook in first and second year I’d often write essay-length Facebook statuses about why racism exists and the experiences of black students on campus. Unsurprisingly, this wasn’t great for my mental health and wellbeing and I soon decided that debating my lived experience was not a productive way to make a change.

I Want Freedom

How Not To Be Racist is my way of detailing very serious issues, being unapologetically myself, without fear of being shouted down by racists. The series does a great job refraining from positioning racism in the UK as a debate. I skipped past that part of the discussion and went straight to explaining how it exists and how you can do better.
The series was filmed over two days in January with scriptwriting happening just a few days before. Originally the scripts were much longer and more detailed but given the social nature of the video, we had to really think about the messaging we wanted to hone in on and how to deliver it in a punchy way.
Episode one is all about coolness at a cost. So many people emulate blackness through music, fashion and art because it sells. However, there is often little recognition of the struggle it comes from or credit for the creators. In this episode, I look at the ways black creators and culture is stolen; from Tik Tok trends through to the bleak history of tap dancing there is a cost to being cool and it usually comes at the expense of black creators.
Episode two on white saviours breaks down a lot of the problems around voluntourism and white people feeling like they always need to save the day. I look at the way media has played a huge role in reinforcing the narrative of white people being the only ones who can save the world – particularly the global south.

Is it racist?

The third and final episode is all about racism in the dating scene. We look at the fetishisation of mixed-race kids, the over-sexualisation of black people on dating apps and the way colourism impacts who does and doesn’t receive the holy swipe right. This was a great episode to film and will really make people dissect the way they think about the politics of dating.

Although my series is called ‘How Not To Be Racist’ it is not enough to be ‘not racist’, you have to be anti-racist. I hope these videos will give people enough knowledge to not only evaluate their own actions and behaviours, but also challenge others to do better.
This series has definitely shaken people up. There have been a lot of white tears shed and backlash in the comment sections of Facebook and YouTube, but that is exactly what we want. The series isn’t meant to coddle people and divorce them from the wider structures of racism, it is meant to get them uncomfortable about the ways they knowingly and unknowingly contribute to racist structures.
It is not all doom and gloom though, there has been a positive response online from a lot of people who feel like this series synthesizes huge and difficult topics. There are also many who feel seen and this series has given them the language to describe an issue they found difficult to discuss.
Becoming an anti-racist is a constant process of unlearning, there is no easy way around these very uncomfortable conversations. I do hope that the lightheartedness of this series helps people to engage in these tough topics and want to do better.