I have sometimes wondered if the now popular support for Black Lives Matter (BLM) here in Britain is somewhat superficial, as if it had suddenly become fashionable to be seen as ‘on their side’? The reaction to the Christmas advert put out by the supermarket Sainsbury’s might appear to support that line of thought. It has been widely reported that the first airing of the television advert provoked a flurry of racist tweets on Twitter, with people apparently suggesting that the chain store should be boycotted. Watching professional footballers ‘take a knee’ in support of BLM and the Football Association’s ‘No Room for Racism’ campaign does not appear to have done much to change the latent prejudice within the country.
Britain has a history of racism. Stating such is not revealing some hidden truth. Like most European countries, Britain has treated foreigners with suspicion, hostility, and a need to exercise a superiority over other races. Britain also has a history of enacting prejudice against women, homosexuals, Catholics, Jews, and the disabled. A very long history. It comes as no surprise then that a Christmas advert that follows a black family looking forward to the festive holiday should reveal that prejudice is alive and well in Britain.
As a disabled person I see no reason to expect anything different. As long as society looks to tackle the problem of prejudice as it appears in individual guises, be it ableism, ageism, racism, sexism, or any other ‘-ism’, it will achieve very little. Each expression of prejudice, be it against a person’s creed, sexual orientation, colour, or any other characteristic, has the same origin. All expressions of prejudice are preconceived opinions that are not based on reason or actual experience. Some people just do not like other people because they are different in one or more ways. Perhaps it is human nature? If it is then it is going to take something significant to change it. Dealing with responses to a Christmas advert is not going to do it. We have to accept that racism is just one symptom of a human condition and that there are many other symptoms also. Until we deal with the root cause then I see no reason for optimism.