RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Black is black? Not now that a college teachers’ union says people should be allowed to choose their race. But how do you square that with the campaign against ‘cultural appropriation’?
People should be allowed to choose their race as well as their gender, according to a college lecturers’ union.
They probably think they’re breaking new ground in extending the frontiers of diversity and inclusion. Sorry to disappoint them, but that’s so last year.
In November 2018, it was revealed that Anthony Lennon, a white theatre director, who was born in London and has two Irish parents, had managed to obtain an Arts Council grant reserved for ethnic minorities by claiming to be black.
Lennon, 54, told them he was a ‘born-again African’ and said he’d ‘gone through the struggles of a black man’. He even adopted an African name, Ekundayo.
You couldn’t make it up.
Predictably, the idea of choosing your own race started in America.
In November 2018, it was revealed that Anthony Lennon, a white theatre director, who was born in London and has two Irish parents, had managed to obtain an Arts Council grant reserved for ethnic minorities by claiming to be black
In 2015 it was revealed that a woman posing as an African-American, Rachel Dolezal, had been sacked from her job with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) after her parents outed her as white. Ms Dolezal insisted on describing herself as ‘trans-black’.
Perhaps the most famous example is lilywhite Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who won a post at Harvard at a time when it was seeking to employ more people from ethnic minorities, describing herself as a Red Indian — sorry, Native American. This led to Donald Trump dubbing her ‘Pocahontas’.
It’s his best joke and one which he can’t resist repeating — especially after he goaded Senator Warren into taking a DNA test, which showed she was just 1,024th part Cherokee — a statistic that genealogists would describe as being well outside the margin of error. Warren subsequently had to issue an apology to the Cherokee nation.
Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, who won a post at Harvard at a time when it was seeking to employ more people from ethnic minorities, describing herself as a Red Indian — sorry, Native American
The politics of identity is fraught with contradiction. For instance, how do you square a white man claiming to be black with the campaign against ‘cultural appropriation’?
Still, it could be a convenient ‘get out of jail’ card for the students accused of racism for wearing sombreros.
All they have to do is claim to be ‘trans-Mexican’ for the night and Pedro’s your uncle. And what if a white person wearing blackface insists they are actually black? Pick the bones out of that.
Back when Englishman Jack Charlton was manager of the Republic of Ireland football team, he managed to stretch the definition of ‘Irish’ to include anyone who’d drunk a pint of Guinness.
Four and a half years ago, I joked that if Bruce (now Caitlyn) Jenner — one of the extended Kardashian Klan — could claim to have ‘always been a woman’, despite still possessing a full set of wedding tackle and fathering six children, then I was Nigerian lesbian.
‘If you can choose your gender, why not your race?’ I wrote.
Under the new rules issued this week by the University and College Union, it appears you can. ‘The UCU has a long history of enabling members to self-identify, whether that is being black, disabled, LGBT or women.’
Hang on, I thought for a moment, self-identifying as ‘disabled’ is a new one.
Then I remembered that as recently as this summer, the Government extended the Blue Badge free parking permit scheme to people with ‘hidden disabilities’ such as anxiety and depression.
If Gary Lineker can be persuaded to transition, it could solve the Beeb’s gender pay gap problems at a stroke
It reminded me of the brilliant Curb Your Enthusiam episode in which Larry David pretends to have a stammer in order to use the disabled toilet ahead of a man in a wheelchair.
Look, it’s easy to mock all this madness. But there is an upside, especially if you’re an employer.
Say you’ve got a predominently white, male workforce and you’re coming under pressure to hire more women and ethnic minorities.
Simply tell half your workforce to redefine as female, black, Muslim or whatever and you’re off the hook. Under the new diversity guidelines, no one will be able to complain.
Come to think of it, all this could be a godsend for the BBC.
If Gary Lineker can be persuaded to transition, it could solve the Beeb’s gender pay gap problems at a stroke.
The Crown Prince of fairy tales
No, I didn’t watch the Prince Andrew interview. I’ve got better things to do on a Saturday night.
I figured correctly that the best bits would be subject to saturation bombing everywhere, so I could catch up later.
I was particularly amused by the way he referred to Fergie as ‘The Duchess’. Made him sound like an old school East End docker talking fondly about his missus. I wonder if he calls the Queen ‘Queenie”.
Anyway, if I want a semi-fictionalised version of what the Royal Family gets up to, I’d rather watch The Crown.
Prince Andrew interviewed by Emily Maitlis for BBC Newsnight on Saturday night. It’s a pity Andrew didn’t watch The Crown before agreeing to undergo trial by Newsnight
Which is what I did on Sunday night. The first four episodes were well up to snuff, despite taking more than a few liberties with the actualite.
It’s a pity Andrew didn’t watch The Crown before agreeing to undergo trial by Newsnight.
In one scene, Prime Minister Harold Wilson — played by W1A’s Jason Watkins in the manner of Mr Grimsdale, from the Norman Wisdom films — is questioning the Queen’s decision to allow the cameras to film an intimate documentary about the royals.
Her Maj says that it was designed to show the world that behind the palace walls the Royal Family is just like everyone else.
That’s the point, Grimsdale says. You’re not.
If anything proved that beyond peradventure it was Andrew’s self-pitying interview.
Still, I’m looking forward to the future series of The Crown featuring Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein.
It surely won’t be any less fantastic than the version Randy Andy was peddling on Saturday night.
Timing in life, as in comedy, is everything. Someone should have explained that to Jennifer Arcuri, the Prime Minister’s pole-dancing popsie.
Her whistle-stop tour of the TV studios was completely overshadowed by the Prince Andrew kerfuffle.
Whatever grievance she had about being dumped unceremoniously by Boris, it got lost in the flood. But I did enjoy her gripe about being treated like a ‘gremlin’.
Jennifer Arcuri leading BBC television studios in London yesterday. Her whistle-stop tour of the TV studios was completely overshadowed by the Prince Andrew kerfuffle
Miss Arcuri clearly doesn’t know anything about the English vernacular. She was nearer the truth than she realised.
There are certain nightclubs and discos where ‘Ladies Drink Free’ promotions are known, with good reason, by young men in search of a one-night stand as ‘Grab A Gremlin Nite’.
Out of the mouths of babes…
The Lib Dems’ irritating leader Jo Swinson keeps insisting she’s going to be our next Prime Minister.
She’s having a laugh.
Or, as Mail reader Chris Devaney points out: ‘I know she’s a joker, Rich. But does she have to dress like him?’
Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson (left). Joaquin Phoenix as the Joker (right)
When the Calendar Girls stripped off for charity donkey’s years ago, it was a bit of a novelty.
Since then, everybody’s been getting in on the act, even the chaps.
This week it was the turn of a bunch of trainee vets, posing naked with only a few sheep to shield their modesty. The sheep had been ‘tipped’ into the shearing position, inciting protests from vegans and animal rights activists. Elsewhere, a group of men of a certain age stripped off in aid of a horticultural workers’ charity.
Final year students at the Royal Veterinary College in London created a charity fundraising calendar. But this year, one of the images, featured naked male vets ‘tipping’ sheep – a ‘pain-free’ method used to examine the animals’ feet
They were pictured waist-deep in a maze, clutching a fearsome array of garden tools, including shears and hedge-trimmers.
You have to admire their bravery.
One false move, one slip of the hand, and there was every chance they’d be joining the Calendar Girls.
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