‘Here’s what white folks really think about us’

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IT WAS the first time it had ever happened on radio or anywhere else for that matter.  Apart from yours truly, no other person in the media was bold enough to go down that road and open up the can of worms that has remained tinned and sealed for a millennium. And yet it is one of the most important questions of our age – especially for black people: What do white folks think about us?

That was the subject of my ground-breaking show on BBC London last week.  For once none of my guests were black. Apart from me as the host and the listeners who called in, there was a ‘colour bar’. Because this programme was about being a fly on the wall to allow white folks to talk about us freely without feeling intimidated or guilty or restrained by the rules and regulations of political correctness.

This was white folks untethered and unchained because that’s the only way we can have meaningful dialogue, and that’s the only way we can understand what we’re dealing with in this white man’s world that wouldn’t be nothing without a black woman or a girl, as James Brown almost sang.

STEREOTYPES

So what did we learn? Well, there were the usual stereotypes:

Black people are too loud.
Black people are too feisty.
Why do black people always have to be so ‘Xtra?’
When someone calls me ‘white trash’ I don’t get upset, why do black people have to take a diss so personally?
Why, has everything got to get a ‘is it because I’m black’ response?

But it wasn’t just stereotypes. There was a real understanding amongst several of the white people on the programme that, ‘Yeah, black people do get the sh*tty end of the stick’.

So it’s not like white folk don’t know it when they talk amongst themselves about us. But they can’t do much more than shrug their shoulders.


CANDID: Dotun hosts a weekly show on BBC Radio

What else can they do? Sure they could start a revolution and overthrow the monarchy and man the turrets and wear placards emblazoned with JE SUIS NOIR and tiptoe through the tulips or whatever else the middle classes do to earn their non-racist credentials.

Ultimately it’s not down to most white people that we get the doo-doo end of the stick. It’s institutional isn’t it? It’s not their fault. Before you throw up your hands in dismay, hang on a second. Remember this was a unique and frank programme (don’t worry; I’ll do one on what black people really REALLY think of white people soon.)

These are some of the things white people say about us when we’re not around. It’s not racist is it?

I’ve been complaining for months now that my stepson who has moved in with us is “too loud”. I don’t even think he knows how loud he is. And that’s not to say white folks are not loud. But if the perception of white people is that we fulfil the stereotype, the question is how we respond? We can dismiss the comments and allow the opinions to continue.

We can challenge them or refute them. That will take some doing. Or we can look deep into our soul and question whether there is some unpalatable truth in these stereotypes which we would be unwise to burden our children with.

As for being given the stinky end of the stick, well, that is our problem. Why expect fair-minded white folk to start a revolution on our behalf? Their acknowledgment of the injustice towards us is surely the confirmation that everybody knows that our cause is a just one.

All we’ve got to do is seize the time.

Justice awaits you as does the internet link to the whole two hour programme on What White Folks Think About Us.

Message me on Twitter – @dotunadebayo – and I’ll send you the link. It’s really worth a listen.

In : London

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