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8Jan/120

Diane Abbott is a racist and that makes me sad

Well this last week has certainly been one for the racists. With Diane Abbott MP making racist comments on Twitter and (yet another) sensitive millionaire footballer alleging racist taunts and abuse.

In all honesty this comes as little surprise to many people since racism is still endemic in our society and, in my opinion, it'll never go away as long as we have different skin colours and speak different languages. Ideally racism would be a non-concept. But, like it or not, racism is here to stay. I don't like it or want it, but that's the way it is here in the real world. It's naive to think it'll ever be completely eradicated.

But the most galling thing about racism is not that it happens but the reaction to it in the media and some sections of society.

But the Diane Abbott situation is worthy of note. Ms Abbott, who has a degree in history from Cambridge, wrote a sweeping generalisation that white people like to divide and rule. And I take offence at that because I don't divide or rule.

On the day that the 'Diane Abbott is a racist' Twitter scandal broke there was a black guy from a black representative group being interviewed on Sky News (can't remember who he was now). And he quite specifically said that black people can't be racist. I couldn't believe what I was hearing and seeing. It made me wonder what planet he was living on because it certainly didn't seem like this one.

Thankfully , other black commentators were a little more level-headed in saying that what Diane Abbott wrote was stupid and that she should have known better considering her position and her obvious intelligence.

Even more maddening is the fact that she only apologised for offence caused, not for being a racist or making making racist comments. And I wonder whether she would have apologised had she not been told to.

She did her best to make out that she was referring to British rule during the Empire and that the comment had been taken out of context. But she hadn't actually put the tweet into such context during the Twitter discussion. A poor attempt at covering up her own racist attitude.

Even worse is that she kept her job. And that is simply because she is black. If a white front bench politician had made similar remarks he or she would have been fired within the hour.

Constance Briscoe, a highly respected black female barrister and judge, went further on BBC's Any Questions by saying that she is also a hypocrite in that she has one rule for Diane Abbot and something else for others.

Now I'm not condoning racism at all. Racism may still be rife but it's still wrong and shouldn't be acceptable to anyone. Least of all of from someone who sits on the Shadow Cabinet. Diane Abbott has an excellent track record of supporting and promoting race relations. And that's why it saddens me that one of the most intelligent people in the Parliamentary Labour Party has shown herself to be something of a racist herself.

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