Nova Reid

Why should a 2019 TED talk be in the news? Because it opposes racism, and The Times thinks that’s a bad thing. An NHS site for senior employees includes a link to the TED talk, and even though there is no obligation on anyone to watch it and there are many other links, the Times is outraged. An Opinion article said women suffer microaggressions too (fair point) and everyone should just ignore them.

Should microaggressions be “seen off with scorn”? Aged seven, Nova Reid heard a younger girl ask her mother, “Why is that girl the colour of poo-poo?” Just after transition, I heard a child cry out, “Mummy! Mummy! Look at the strange man!” It lives with me, twenty years later. At that age, it profoundly hurt her.

I don’t blame the child, I am uncomfortable with the parent. So scorn is difficult. What I feel, rather, is pain at my inability to connect and communicate. Some children can be wonderfully acute and compassionate.

I would think the NHS Leadership Academy, for senior employees, has many topics explored as well as racism, and many articles and videos on challenging prejudice, but the Daily Mail as well as The Times found this newsworthy. Wearily, an NHS spokesman (sic) explained to the Times that the video was by TED, not the NHS, and the NHS does not require anyone to watch it. They can, if they are interested. Both the Mail and Times report early in their articles (before most people stop reading) that Nova Reid says that Britain is “a country that legalised oppression”.

Well, Britain is based on oppression. All legal and constitutional authority, including the identity of the Head of State and the official religion, is based on the Norman Conquest which was pretty oppressive to the common people. Our empire accumulated wealth on the backs of slaves and oppressed peoples. Still, Eton boys and billionaires tell the common people to despise “Metropolitan elites” who say racism is bad.

Someone probably said to Jarvis Cocker, “I wanna sleep with common people like you”. I just love the video, especially the bits in the supermarket. Most people in Britain suffer microaggressions, and still the Times and Mail micromanage the NHS, saying it should not provide a link to a video with a particular point of view on that, perhaps alongside other points of view. They don’t want NHS leaders to hear a Black person objecting to racism.

People who come for trans rights are coming for everyone’s rights. They don’t like people pointing out oppression because all their power is based on oppression. The slightest thing anyone does to oppose oppression is fair game, with the right wing propaganda mill screaming “Woke!” The Mail helpfully has a link to all posts tagged “woke-culture”, a chronicle of resistance which the Mail despises.

And yet, this feigned apoplexy has introduced me to Nova Reid and her book “The Good Ally”. “Once hate is gone, [we] will be forced to deal with pain,” wrote James Baldwin. She writes about healing, because racism and other prejudice drives people apart, and opposing it brings us together. Reid is our ally, believing in “the equality of all genders”. She knows about internalised self-phobia. Her tools for opposing prejudice are tools we can use, together, to help everyone.

That some senior employees of the NHS might choose to spend ten minutes watching a video about microaggressions, with the NHS’s approval, is not news. That oil companies plans for drilling would involve the equivalent of 646 billion tonnes of CO2 and an increase in global temperature of more than 2ºC is news.

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