Is it just me or is it totally unsurprising when links turn up between disparate items these days? Maybe I have been sensitised to it by recent media coverage (e.g. the London copper who
yesterday got sentenced for framing an innocent man turned out of have a history of "issues" and blemishes on his record that had been overlooked by him claiming harassment, and an article sent to me about a murder of a black kid by a white one in Seattle) but I am seeing elements of racism and racial politics everywhere I turn at the moment.
I feel totally unqualified to comment on the matter, as apart from my brother-in-law (and son) and the people in the Chinese takeaway at the end of the road my life is whiter than white. Not
through choice, there just isn't anyone else from any other ethnic background living nearby, working in my department, driving my bus, selling me groceries or just hanging around street corners trying to engage with me. It has been the same old story most of my life, and I have a deep ingrained feeling that I ought to do something about it, but then that would just be tokenism.
Anyway, what I meant to say was that the matter has cropped up in three of my latest, totally unconnected books. In the worlds of fiction the last two I read were Terry Pratchett's Nation and Dr Who tie-in Sting Of The Zygons. The former sees a young white girl stranded on a pseudo-Polynesian Island (in a parallel universe) and covers culture clashes, colonial attitudes and differences between religion and science in a generally lighthearted manner. The Who book, sees the Doctor and Martha thrown into 1910 Scotland with Martha receiving backhanded comments and snide looks from establishment figures. Both of these are ostensibly children's books and there is nothing overt or too offensive in the attitudes portrayed, but they both struck a chord.
The question is, would they have registered with me in this way if I hadn't simultaneously been listening to part three of Simon Schama's History of Britain? Throughout the three volumes, as we have seen the empire growing etc, he has covered the appalling treatment Britain inflicted on conquered peoples in a manner that makes me uncomfortable about descending from those times. OK, there is nothing in there I haven't come across before in other texts, lessons, tv shows and so forth but coming across all three references to the subject in close succession has rammed it home once more.
So, is everything interconnected? Do we just see links between things and events when they don't really exist or am I just being a tad sensitive? Answers on a postcard or sealed antelope...
I'll talk about teeth or something less thought-provoking next time!