Widening the divisions helps no one; sadly the mixed and sometimes vitriolic reaction to their performance clearly shows that that is precisely what Diversity managed to do.
What is it about the Diversity dance act that I object to? Ashley Banjo, the groups spokesman, when responding to the criticism of the routine said;
We stood up and said that racism is real, and as far as we are concerned, it has to change and it will not be tolerated, because Black Lives Matter.
The performance was in part a response to the killing of George Floyd. The manner of Mr Floyd's killing was horrendous, and the officers involved should face the full force of the law; that I do not disagree with. Furthermore, the opprobrium heaped upon Mr Banjo following the performance has been shocking.
Mr Banjo is clearly an articulate, hard working individual who is enjoying great success, and deservedly so. He is the complete antithesis of George Floyd who, in 2009 was sentenced to five years in prison follwoing an armed robbery and a home invasion. Before that he had been convicted on charges ranging from theft with a firearm to drugs.
The only factor that Mr Banjo and Mr Floyd appeared to have had in common was the colour of their skin. Which brings me to my first objection, the notion that the lives of all black people is defined by racism. The arguments currently being made about the quality of life “endured” by black people is entirely one dimensional. The arguments do not take account of education, parental support, criminality, cultural differences,and so forth. I don't disagree that racism exists, but if that was the sole factor affecting the lives of black people how does one explain the differences in outcomes for Mr Floyd and various black business people, scientists, celebrities, etc, including Mr Banjo, who have made a success of their lives?
I simply do not accept the argument that all black people are the victims of circumstances beyond their control.
The killing of Mr Floyd occurred in America, not the UK. Which brings us to my second objection. Diversity's performance took place against a backdrop of fire and riots, the performers dressed to appear like an armed militia. What was portrayed was the reaction in America to Mr Floyd's death, not that in the UK. What seems to have been forgotten by the media, and repeated in this performance, is that the UK is not America. This country's relationship with minority communities is not the same as in the U.S. I object to the import into the UK of an American societal problem. Yes we have our issues, but the UK is one of the most tolerant societies in the world. The black lives matter agenda may have its place in America, but in the UK it risks creating divisions where none existed before.
I am not a racist. I believe everyone, whatever their background, should be treated fairly and with respect. Widening the divisions helps no one; sadly the mixed and sometimes vitriolic reaction to their performance clearly shows that that is precisely what Diversity managed to do.
15th September 2020