So, a year in which there was a global conversation, sometimes an argument, and on many occasions, a series of riots, all as a result of racism.
The illegal killing of George Floyd sparked off demos, riots, vandalism and arson.
There were calls to withdraw funding from the police given that they were, apparently, rotten to the core, and it would be too much of a task to try and stamp out the racism embodied in their ranks.
Racism dominated the summer and beyond, and there was also an echo on social media.
People on social media have been ‘cancelled’…they’ve been deprived of oxygen on Twitter and the like, they’ve been subjected to abuse from all manner of strangers, and one of the strangest sources of anger has been the issue of cultural appropriation.
The idea is of someone taking a facet of a culture which they do not belong to or have any connection to, adopting it as though it were their own.
No matter that this process has occurred naturally for millennia. Different cultures and different people are absorbed into other cultures as the world turns. It never used to be a problem.
What wasn't a problem has been turned into a problem. All across the horizon of social media, we can see people who have fallen victim to doing the wrong thing, saying the wrong thing, or wearing the wrong thing.
Gordon Ramsay’s Asian restaurant was slagged off for interpreting another culture without studying it in depth. But it’s only food, for fuck’s sake! One restaurant writer was upset that she was the only East Asian person there on the preview night. What would she have said if he'd bussed in some East Asians for atmos?
Damned if you do, damned if you don’t!
The east Asian woman in question went on to describe the head chef’s wife as a “token Asian wife”! Lovely woman, loved by all!
But it’s not only restaurant owners who have somehow offended the Twitterati. Kim Kardashian, famous for various reasons, unveiled her new line of underwear. Unfortunately for her, she decided to call it ‘Kimono’, which led to a debate about her obvious lack of respect for Japanese culture. From Twitter:
Christ on a bike! How do these people manage to sleep at night? There must be so many billions of people inadvertently offending them at all hours of the day or night! And don’t even get me started on the incorrect use of the definite article in that last one!
We appear to be no nearer to leaving this age of internet heroes and heroines, bravely bashing out opinions from behind a screen, somewhere where the accused can’t see them.
And it’s not only affecting people. In the States a university came under attack for serving Asian food as that, too, was deemed to constitute cultural appropriation:
The sushi is anything but authentic for Tomoyo Joshi, a College junior from Japan, who said that the undercooked rice and lack of fresh fish is disrespectful.
Disrespectful food? That’s a new one for me!
"She added that in Japan, sushi is regarded so highly that people sometimes take years of apprenticeship before learning how to appropriately serve it. 'When you’re cooking a country’s dish for other people, including ones who have never tried the original dish before, you’re also representing the meaning of the dish as well as its culture,' Joshi said. 'So, if people not from that heritage take food, modify it and serve it as ‘authentic,’ it is appropriative.'"
And now: Adele. A singer who came in for a kicking when she shared a photo of herself in a Jamaican-print bikini with her hair in bantu knots. Her post sparked a bitter row as hundreds of people accused her of insensitivity.
One user wrote: “Black women are discriminated against for wearing cultural hairstyles like bantu knots and locs but white people are not, that’s not fair and that’s why people are pissed off.”
Because of a haircut? Pissed off because of someone else’s hairstyle? This is getting out of hand!
But what about Budapest? We, too, featured as a stop on the global wave of BLM demonstrations. Only here, they managed to fuck it up, right from the word go...
Yes, Black Mives Latter. Mever Nind, eh?
Here, of course, the majority of people who attended the demonstration were young, liberals. These are the open-minded who disagree with the elected Hungarian government’s views on…well, pretty much everything. But here, in the middle of this demonstration, one man stands out. A man who is as liberal as you can get. A tree-hugger with dreadlocks. A man who sings and raps about the foul, foul, Hungarian government. Fine. It’s a free country after all, no matter what the liberals say, but this man is a white Hungarian, with dreadlocks, who speaks not with a Jamaican accent as such, but a Jamaican style of intonation.
So, if Gordon opens an Asian restaurant he can expect, for whatever reason, to be crucified. If Kim names her underwear line “incorrectly”, she can expect the same. If someone serves sushi incorrectly, then it can be classified as racist, and if a white singer has her hair styled in a traditional African manner then the explosion of indignation could likely be heard at the end of the universe. Here, however, we’ve got a liberal, tree-hugger from Budapest with long dreadlocks, a white Hungarian man who effects not a Jamaican accent, but rather imitates Jamaican speech patterns. Isn’t that cultural appropriation at a level above that which Gordon, Kim, the Ohio University canteen, and Adele could ever reach, even with their powers to offend combined into one?
And yet, we hear not a single outraged voice on social media. This man is to Sacha Baron Cohen’s character Ali G, but without the humour, of course. But not a peep from the Twitterati.
It would appear that for a liberal like him, there is a different set of rules. Once again, the shadow of the elastic yardstick looms large.
Once again, double standards apply.