‘Woke’ is not enough. We really need to speak out

James McAvoy was shocked by racist and sexist abuse his co-stars received during a recent theatre run in Glasgow  (Photo by Jun Sato/WireImage).
James McAvoy was shocked by racist and sexist abuse his co-stars received during a recent theatre run in Glasgow (Photo by Jun Sato/WireImage).

AS someone who spent a 30-year career in aviation fighting racism in my workplace, I agree with most of what Neil Mackay writes (“James McAvoy is right, Scotland is racist. The solution: get more woke”, December 1). However, some quibbles.

It would be more accurate to say that there are many racists in Scotland, not all of them white Caucasians. Racism has permeated and become normalised in many of our institutions, just as it has in the London Fire Brigade, the Metropolitan Police and, it appears, among some of those connected to the Royal Family (“Royal aide steps down in row over comments to black guest”, December 1).

I’m not sure that Mr Mackay is right when he states “The more ethnically diverse somewhere is, the less racism you’ll find”. Obviously, if there are fewer people of colour in a population there will be fewer targets for the racists, but I don’t see evidence that more diversity necessarily produces less racism.

As a solution, Mr Mackay urges us all to be more woke and more “alert to issues of racial and social justice”, but alertness isn’t enough. Individuals need to act, to speak out when they hear friends and colleagues make obnoxious remarks, be they racist, misogynistic or homophobic.

It isn’t easy, I know: I was punished by my employer for speaking up, and received numerous abusive and threatening messages from colleagues. But I don’t regret “putting my head above the parapet”, as my line manager put it. It was the right thing to do.

Those who oppose racism can look for inspiration to Rosa Parks who, 67 years ago yesterday, was arrested in Montgomery, Alabama, for refusing to give up her seat to a white man.

Hopefully The Herald will remember Rosa Parks Day for next year’s “On this day” section. A simple act that produced a spark that grew into a flame.

If all those of good faith did those simple acts we could maybe build a society here in Scotland where, in Dr Martin Luther King’s words, people are judged by the “content of their character” and not by their colour, gender, religion or accent.
Doug Maughan, Dunblane

Time to give the royal aide a break

I OBVIOUSLY don’t know the details of the Palace discrimination row but I do notice that an 83-year-old woman, who presumably has made a mistake, is now being vilified by much of the media and not exactly being supported by next king.

She is 83, for heaven’s sake. Give her a bit of a break. Why must those who are generations younger judge people in their own terms? They don’t realise that they too will be a bit out of touch one day or more prone to get things wrong. They don’t think of the huge changes that have occurred during the lady’s lifetime and to which she has adapted.

I am a bit younger (70). My attitudes have changed enormously over my lifetime, and rightly so. Nevertheless there are a number of areas, which I won’t enlarge upon though they are varied, where I am now a bit out of step with modern society. Maybe I should just be put down just because I often disagree with media, particularly BBC, moralising.
Angus MacEachran, Bridge of Don

All the way from Clydebank

IT’S not often that I defend members of the Royal household and I don’t intend to do so re Lady Susan Hussey’s remarks on this occasion.

However recently I had to attend an NHS clinic where the receptionist was a man, obviously of African descent.

As a professional genealogist, whose own immigrant ancestors came to the UK from Sligo, Ireland to find work, I am always fascinated to find out how people ‘end up’ in Glasgow.

“Where are you from?” I asked. “From Clydebank. I’m a Bankie”, he said.

Fortunately both of us laughed at this reply, at the same time. People in the west of Scotland are well used to be asked what school they went to, or which team they support, so perhaps “ Where are you from?” seems somewhat innocuous in comparison.

However, I will be more careful in the future.

It would be interesting to know how many ladies in waiting in the various Royal households, are ladies of colour, or similarly how many senior equerries.
Sheila Duffy, Glasgow

Sturgeon's virtue-signalling

SO, as Ian Blackford resigns as SNP Westminster leader, we learn he’s been offered and has accepted a new role at the centre of the SNP’s independence campaign – an appointment surely made by Nicola Sturgeon or with her blessing,

Blackford was of course at the centre of the scandal surrounding SNP MP Patrick Grady, who was suspended for sexual misconduct.

And yet Blackford insisted that SNP MPs must give Grady ‘absolute full support’.

At the time Sturgeon claimed she believed Blackford’s call for support was ‘unacceptable’. Yet Blackford is now going to be front and centre of SNP efforts to separate Scotland from the rest of the UK – a mission Sturgeon admits that, for her, “transcends everything”

So should we now assume that her earlier condemnation of Blackford’s actions was merely gratuitous virtue-signalling?
Martin Redfern, Melrose, Roxburghshire

Why we want to rejoin Europe

IN his letter, ‘Time for Sturgeon to take her leave’ (December 1), Robert IG Scott is being delusional to suggest that Scotland’s First Minister should seek solace and retire to warmer climates.

Perhaps I could refer him to the article by Alison Rowat (December 1) regarding Ms Sturgeon.

In the article Ms Rowat remarks, “it is hard to see any other First Minister, or party leader, who has been written off so often, by so many, to so little effect”.

I would urge Mr Scott to take note of those comments.

He asks why the SNP want to take us out of this so-called Union of equals that is the UK, yet want to join the EU as an independent nation.

The last six years since the 2016 EU referendum, a referendum that saw Scotland vote to remain, have been eye-watering and eye-opening.

Amongst other things: queues at the ports, devastating impact on our NHS and care sector, red tape crippling business, shortages in the labour market, shortages on our supermarket shelves, fruit growers in despair due to lack of EU workers.

The list could go on.

This all demonstrates our need and urgency to re-join the Single Market and the Customs Union and to welcome EU workers, instead of creating barriers of earnings criteria before entry.
Catriona C Clark, Banknock, Falkirk

Enlightenment urgently needed

THE Herald’s letters columns this week appear to comprise delight in the Supreme Court decision; Westminster will continue to deny a Section 30 and even if they acquiesced, let’s manipulate the majority required.

Throw in the usual 300 years – do they not know anyone who is divorced and has found another partner? Finally, of course, there is the plain, old-fashioned ‘SNP bad.’

Conspicuous by its absence is the positive case for remaining.

Perhaps those of a unionist persuasion could cast aside their ‘mustn’ts’, ‘don’ts’, ‘shouldn’ts’ and ‘impossibles’ and enlighten us?
Alan Carmichael, Glasgow

Sleepwalking into recession

NEXT year is going to be a tough year for the UK economy.

Sleepwalking into recession and delivering the worst economic performance of all G7 countries, with Brexit a fundamental cause of this.

Further evidence, if any were needed, of the damaging impact of Brexit, is the recent research by the Centre for Business Prosperity at Aston University.

This has found that withdrawal from the European Union (EU) and the introduction of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement has resulted in a 22.9% slump in UK exports.

According to this research, the UK has also experienced a significant contraction in the variety of goods being exported to the EU, with an estimated loss of 42% of product varieties.

This considerable contraction of the UK trade capacity, combined with an increased concentration of export values to fewer products, signifies some serious long-term concerns about the UK’s future exporting and productivity.

It is yet another example, to add to the growing list, of Brexit being one of the greatest acts of economic self-harm by a nation and is a perfect case of where turkeys have indeed voted for Christmas.
Alex Orr, Edinburgh


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