Rod Liddle

Why I’ve changed my name

10 November 2018

9:00 AM

10 November 2018

9:00 AM

As someone who has recently discovered he is black, I have watched with incredulity the treatment doled out by the white liberal media to the theatre director Anthony Ekundayo Lennon.

Like me, Anthony has shoved a name which sounds a bit exotic between his Christian name and his surname in order to convince people he is black. He has also said that while he does not have any African genes whatsoever, he feels black. That’s good enough for me, and it has proved good enough for organisations which bung people large sums of money on account of their skin colour — or what the individuals, on a whim, deem their skin colour to be. Anthony has been the recipient of part of a £406,500 grant for black and ethnic minority people and now occupies a role designated for a person of colour.

I hope similarly to gain financially from my remarkable discovery, at the age of 58, that I am in fact black. Like Anthony I was teased as a child on account of my appearance. I also have a very strong sense of rhythm and am usually cheerful, both qualities which my mother told me were associated with people of African-Caribbean descent. My denial of my blackness I put down to the pressures imposed by a white supremacist society in which I have struggled to survive for so long. I am black — get over it. And gimme the money.

The arguments from the liberals against Anthony (and thus, by extension, me) being black are hilarious. They claim, for instance, that he is not black at all, factually. Ah, but surely what matters is what he feels himself to be, no? Isn’t that the criteria we apply in other cases? Likewise, the assertion that he is diverting funds away from people who are truly deserving because they actually are black and that further to this he cannot be objectively black because however black he might think himself to be, he has not suffered as a black person has suffered: he does not have slavery and colonialism hanging around his neck, no matter how much he (and I, obvs) might identify with people who do.

Does this argument from the left ring a bell with you? Imagine if Anthony did not identify as being black, but identified as being a woman and decided to call himself Antonia (which I suppose he may well do next week if he feels like it). Then, all of those objections would be rendered null and void by the liberals. He is not actually a woman? Doesn’t matter one bit. Indeed, his identification as a woman when he is palpably not a woman places him in an even more protected category than if he really were a woman. He hasn’t suffered sexual oppression as real women have? Nah, he has suffered more. He would get more grants flowing his way than a gay disabled Bengali dwarf.

And this is despite the fact that Anthony’s maleness is far more easily provable and objective (it’s in the chromosomes, stupid) than his racial background. Anthony would be on a Labour all-women shortlist before you could say Valerie Solanas. He would have the support of the BBC and most of the mainstream media. Those who railed against him would be eviscerated as bigots and terfs.

For the liberal left, then, one fatuous pretence is perfectly OK, while the other — a less obvious pretence, I would suggest — is not. I would further suggest that the reason for this is that progressives, as they like to be called, live not in the real world but in a sort of kindergarten fantasy where anyone can be whatever they want to be in a kind of glorious hierarchy of competing victimhoods, each one conferring a privileged status which must not be gainsaid. At least until reality intrudes — when the whole chimera falls to pieces because it is devoid of rationality, internal logic and common sense. And yet, so vociferous are the proponents of this fairy tale that even the Conservative party goes along with it.

Such as, among others, Andrew Griffiths MP, the chap who ‘sexted’ a 28-year-old barmaid. Hell, we’ve all done that. I’m not sure that his dalliance should be a matter for anyone other than him, his wife and the barmaid. But I daresay that the barmaid will insist that she is a victim in all this, although why, I cannot pretend to understand. She’s 28! If you don’t like the bloke, tell him to get lost.

But then Mr Griffiths himself clambered into spurious victimhood. He had been abused as a child, he told us all, and this was the consequence, the upshot. No it isn’t, matey, as you well know. Being abused as a child may be horrible, but it is not a life-defining experience, despite what the progressives might tell you. And it certainly does not provide you with an excuse to try to pork a barmaid. It is what you do that defines you, not what happened to you briefly decades ago.

Being black does not define you, either, not even being black and having ancestors who 300 years ago were taken captive by the Ghanaian elite and sold to English slave traders. That should not impinge on you — and claiming it does makes you, to my mind, a charlatan and a chancer. Define yourself through your deeds and actions and understand that life is neither pristine nor fair.

Incidentally, one of the main charges against the genuinely hilarious Anthony ‘Ekundayo’ Lennon is that far too few black and minority ethnic people run stuff in British theatre. Well, more than 10 per cent of artistic directors and chairmen are BME, and the BME population of the UK is 13 per cent. So that argument is another chimera, another fantasy.

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