That time a white person dared write about Congo…

Twitter is just such a tricky place isn’t it? It can be a wonderful place that brings out the best in people on the other hand it sometimes brings out the worst in people and really makes me lose all faith in the human race. Most of this loss of faith was induced by a pair of sneakers mind you.

Last week I noticed a thread that just made me sad. It didn’t make me angry, it just made me sad. And I’m going to write this on my blog eventhough I already know that a LOT of people are going to disagree and take offence and think I should shut up about this, but hey, it’s my personal blog and I’m just thinking out loud meaning no disrespect to anyone. I just write about anything that is on my mind – fortunately I work in fashion (despite having studied political science) and most of the time I stay out of heated subjects and just get to be that-ditsy-fashion-girl that writes about highly intellectual topics like glitter, unicorns, nail polish and shoes. Ha!

Owen Jones had written a piece about the Forgotten/ Profitable war in the DR of Congo and he seemed to be getting SO much stick for it on Twitter from people of colour who took offence to the fact that here was a good-white-man seemingly of the gluten-free-guardianista-armchair-liberal brigade who DARED to write something pro-Congo drawing much needed attention to a war that has been raging for almost 20 years and everyone else has chosen to be bored of.

Yes, in an ideal world we would have a Congolese person writing this piece.

Yes, in an ideal world the Storyville “India’s Daughter” documentary (that aired last night) would have been made by an Indian person.

Yes, in an ideal world there would be a much larger and more open space for writers of colour to be able to express themselves and have an equally large and broad audience giving them all the respect and attention they so rightly deserve as this Good-White-Man-wringing-his-hands-at-the-Guardian receives.

Yes, in my ideal world the Daily Mail wouldn’t even exist let alone continue to spout it’s vile vitriol to millions of people that continue to pay it to do so.

Yes, this sucks balls and it’s really really shit that this isn’t already the case.

But can we just for a split second put this into perspective in the grand scheme of world history – it wasn’t all that long ago that colonialism was dismantled or slavery was abolished or Apartheid was brought down. None should have existed in the first place but they did – and considering how recently all these were considered completely normal and acceptable and how long they existed for it is my humble opinion that we have actually come a very long way very quickly over the past couple of decades as a human race. And I say this as someone who is really no fan of the human race actually.

BUT my problem with the people taking up issue with Owen on Twitter is that they seem to be slamming him for having freely chosen to write about this when he was not obliged to in any way and by doing so bringing much needed attention back to this huge issue? Why do you want to be dragging him down and not the actual narrow-minded-middle-England-knuckleheads who call my work leaving voice mails containing gems such as “you Paki yellow scum monkeys”?

Why are we spending so much time and energy on having a massive go at Owen Jones (who yes I agree can come across as an entitled-self-centered-holier-than-thou-absolute-prick a lot of the time) when we could be using this same time and energy to dismantle the likes of Nigel Farage and the UKIP? Would that not be a much better way of spending our limited time and energy – we are all only human after all and there are only 24 hours in a day?

Here comes the bit that I will probably get a LOT of hate for: I think the privileged coloured intelligentsia community – of which I do like to consider myself a member – can also be equally holier-than-thou living in their own little bubble of well-travelled, educated, liberal, forward-thinking friends, families and colleagues allowing them to take offence at Owen’s article. But God forbid we even remotely suggest that they are also in any kind of privileged position or bubble?! Do we ignore UKIP and Farage because we think they’re “beneath” us and not “intelligent enough to stand a real chance or catch on”? Uuuhhh, they are much more likely to have success getting their “message” out than anyone else who may in the meantime be perched on top of their intellectual high horse really. Let’s just give this a second to sink in….ok, yes, we can move on now I think.

Please don’t get me wrong, I genuinely believe that “the system” needs to be fought and challenged and changed. I myself am female, of mixed-race and grew up in 4 different countries and do not benefit from the colonial-old-white-man-patriarchy in any way. Please also feel free to write me off as “just a stupid girl that works in fashion, what could she possibly know?” but I think we need to open up our conversations to include everyone and that includes privileged white men and ditsy girls in fashion. Whether it is racial prejudice that we are fighting or whether it is religious discrimination or whether it is sexism and misogynism, all of these deeply entrenched awful social structures very much need to be broken down. I believe the best way to break them down and make progress is by taking little baby steps and being inclusive. Getting on our high horse to slam those who might be “on the other team” but speaking in our favour because they are not speaking as strongly as we want them to is like taking one step forward and two steps back. Let’s not cut off our noses to spite our faces (can you even say that saying in plural? I’m not sure).

There will ALWAYS be someone more privileged than you and also someone more stupid and uninformed than you, but if we are going to get on our high horse about this, we really need to focus our time and energy on overcoming the real issues and making a real change rather than patting each other on the back from telling-off-that-white-privileged-man-because-how-dare-he-write-about-Congo…believe it or not, THIS kind of petty arguing and entitled behaviour is one of the main reasons I left political science and moved into fashion…hahahaha!

What do you think?

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