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What is Re-Presented?

I am sure you have heard of critical race theory (CRT) by now. But if you haven't, I'll explain. CRT is an American concept which basically professes that 1) race is a social construct that is not based on any natural, biological distinctive measure; and 2) that all major institutions in the US are inherently and systematically racist, thereby automatically generating inequality and disadvantage for people of colour, namely African Americans.


CRT has been a huge source of contention in the US, amongst white and black people alike, and it has begun to cause rumblings here in the UK as well, although it has not been promoted here as much as in the States - yet. The reason it has caused contention is primarily the associated concepts that are derivative of the theory. For example, CRT pushes the idea that all white individuals are inherently racist and automatically privileged by virtue of being white. These are vastly broad assumptions that fail to take a number of personal factors and the role of classism into consideration. Secondly, this idea is divisive. If we approach all white people with the belief that they are automatically prejudiced towards black people, we start from a place of negativity and antagonism, which hardly helps race relations. We also immediately disregard the possible influences of their individual thoughts, beliefs, choices and experiences that could make them anti-racist. In other words, CRT is racist against white people.


I am sure that the authors of CRT were originally well-meaning and I agree with two of its assertions. Firstly, I agree that race is a social construct. It was initially invented for socio-economic classification of people in order to facilitate slavery and colonialism. In reality, the features we rely on to determine race are phenotypical. These features are changeable and related to our environments of origin, i.e., people of African origin having dark, melanin-rich skin most appropriate for hot conditions, as Africa is located directly on the equator. Examples of the changeability of phenotypes is that skin can change colour in the sun, or that members of the same family can have various skin shades.


However, genotypically, in terms of the fixed, distinctive genetic features that make us human, all people are exactly the same. There is no such thing as a white 'race' or black 'race' because genotypically all humans are of the exact same species - homo sapiens. Our differences are not accurately described by phenotype (i.e., skin colour, eyes, hair, etc.) because there can be so many variations even within a so-called 'race'. We are best defined by ethnicity, which is a more holistic term which distinguishes us into groups according to shared attributes relating to culture, customs, traditions, geography and familial descent. Nevertheless, the concept of race is now so deeply engrained in society that we continue to rely on it to define us today. I therefore, in the interests of clarity, will continue to use those definitions on this website. 


The second CRT assertion I agree with is that racism is real, exists today and can at times be demonstrated in a systemic manner in various circumstances. But where I begin to part ways with CRT is how it predisposes white people to racism. I am black and married to a white man. I know for fact that he is not inherently racist, despite growing up in an area without any black neighbours and no more than 3 black pupils in his secondary school. Yes, he grew up hearing his parents, other family members and schoolmates say racist things all the time. But he knew it was wrong and he refused to personally adopt those views. He is not the only white person I have known to be this way.


More importantly, CRT completely detracts from the personal choices of black people. Having grown up in the US, I can tell you first hand that personal choice - despite the legacy of slavery and the reality of racism - plays a significant role in success and progression. Time and time again, I witnessed black and other non-white ethnics - including myself - migrate to America and excel academically and professionally beyond African Americans. The difference was always mindset. While black Americans wait for restitution to pave the way of success for them, migrants pursue success with focus and transform their own lives, finding ways to circumvent racism or any other obstacles. There is simply no benefit to expecting 'the white man' to fix things when there is so much we can do to help ourselves.


I understand that the story of historical and modern-day contributions to Western society has largely been white-washed and, yes, that is due to Eurocentric superiority. For me, the answer to this is not to get angry and demand recognition from white people. Frankly, I find that idea insulting. I don't need validation or acceptance from white people or anyone else. What I need is to understand who I am, my place in the world and to carry myself confidently in this knowledge. One of the ways this happens is through educating myself about African contribution to Western civilisation and the role of black people in the development of all aspects of society. I think white people need to know this, too, so that they can develop a greater understanding of themselves within the context of multi-ethnic contribution.


So, what is Re-Presented? Well, it is my way of contributing to the race discussion while avoiding the division, hostility and discrimination of CRT. This Re-Presented blog (launched March 2023) will regularly post fascinating facts about black inventors and contributors, and about the central role of Africa in the sustenance of the rest of the world. Thus, the goal of Re-Presented is simply to re-present information about societal development with the inclusion of black contributions. The aim is to help us ALL understand how we have worked together throughout history to build civilisation, and to help us ALL recognise the skills and talents that unify us.


I really hope you enjoy this learning experience as much as I do. Please feel free to head to the Re-Presented blog below.

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