A quick post to note that I briefly talked with Sangita Myska on LBC today regarding ongoing racism, xenophobia and nationalism in the UK. The LBC was exploring what it means to be ‘English’ within the context of ‘Britishness’ as a response to a racist caller on Sangita’s 28 August show.
From the perspective as a professor specialising in (among other things) English origins and Anglo-Saxon archaeology, I attempted to convey some key basic points, including:
- It is racist to evoke a fictional homogeneous white English past that never existed in attempts to silence recent immigrants and invalidate their identities as either British or indeed English;
- This is contrived flagrant ignorance of this island’s story at a time when there are more resources than ever to learn about this island’s story – books, museums, heritage sites, podcasts, websites etc;
- There was no time in the c. 6.5 centuries of ‘Anglo-Saxon England’/’early medieval England’ when there was not a flow of ideas and people between these islands and the rest of the world.
- English was always a rhetorical and political construct not predicated on any singular ‘racial’ identity from its earliest inception and uses;
- We are all immigrants.
I’m not sure I am any good at speaking in these environments, but I had a last-minute invite to contribute and I did my best.
Solidarity to Sangita over this dismal caller’s comments and congratulations to her and her team for organising a constructive and superb set of other speakers and callers in response.
Catch up on it for the next week here at c. 14.20: https://www.globalplayer.com/catchup/lbc/uk/episodes/2zGze5D6zCdasrMvMxRESrd6Qn/
Update: 03/09/22: In response to 3 days of nonsense from racists and confused folks on Twitter, here is my follow-up TikTok video.