Munroe Bergdorf, the London model who was fired by L’Oreal for a Facebook post calling out systemic racism, has been making rounds to explain her stance on White complicity in racial violence, The Sun reports. Bergdorf, L’Oreal’s first transgender model, most recently appeared on Good Morning Britain and the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire Program to explain the meaning of her Facebook post, which was a response to the violence in Charlottesville.
Bergdorf’s first interviewers seem confused by multiple definitions of “racial violence.” On Good Morning Britain, Piers Morgan asks Bergdorf to explain why White people shouldn’t be offended by her opinion that all White people were “party to” racial violence. Bergdorf replies,“Because socialism has placed all White people in a certain privilege that means that if you are not dismantling racism or helping to dismantle racism then you are part of the problem, because that makes you complicit.”
Morgan counters, “You don’t think any White people on the planet are doing that?” In his wounded response, Morgan seems to conflate systemic racism with personal attitudes, and the refusal to tease out the difference is also at the center of L’Oreal’s decision to fire Bergdorf. Derbyshire follows suite in her interview. When Bergdorf tries to explain what she means by “racial violence,” Derbyshire interrupts her, pushing her to justify use of the word “all.” Derbyshire even asks Bergdorf if she could have “worded it better” so that White people wouldn’t feel attacked.
White people’s feelings are at the center of the Bergdorf (White) media hype. A L’Oreal spokesperson told The Sun that Bergdorf’s comments were “at odds” with the company’s values of diversity and tolerance of all people. The spokesperson’s comments point to the slippery slope between personal and systemic racism, between racial violence in general and personal acts of terrorism like those committed in Charlottesville. To the offended, Bergdorf’s claims seem to reduce all White people to James Alex Fields-types who commit hate crimes. But neither Morgan nor Derbyshire heard Bergdorf when she explained systems of subjugation built on White supremacy. The systemic racism/ personal attitude false binary has plagued media representations of White people and whiteness since Trump’s presidential campaign. Bergdorf is just the latest victim of those who pretend that “tolerance” of “all people” necessitates blindness to structural racism and silence about the historical construction of whiteness.
SOURCE: THE SUN