Monday, April 24, 2006

Shipshape and Bristol fashion

The social contract has become: your ignorance is our fault, so we will pretend that it is we who have something to learn from your sense of alienation, and if possible we will believe it; furthermore, we apologise profusely for all the derogation that you have suffered at the mouths of the porridge-eating pensioners whom you accost on the streets.
The above is a comment on a post on The Daily Ablution that defies belief — unless of course you reside in a co-op, belong to a union, work in academia or public service, sit on a human rights commission, report for the CBC, or live anywhere in Europe…
Another victory in the centuries-long struggle against bigotry and oppression can be celebrated today, as "community leaders" - led by Simba Tongogara - have forced capitalist land developers in Bristol to abandon an appallingly racist name that had, with incredible insensitivity, been chosen for a local shopping centre.

After much consideration, and fully cognizant of the risk of deeply disturbing readers, the Daily Ablution has decided to reproduce the revolting designation in full - not from a sense of sensationalism, or in order to offend, but to illustrate the extent to which the racism that permeates all levels of today's society continues to fester. While discussion of such matters may be unpleasant at times, it is only in educating ourselves - emancipating ourselves from mental slavery, as it were - that the problem can be overcome.

Unbelievably, the shopping centre was to be called Merchants Quarter.

Understandably shocked, Mr. Tongogara - Black or Minority Ethic Representative - African Descent (Caribbean) of the St. Paul's Unlimited community group, a project funded by the European Regional Development Fund - leapt into action, using his group's resources and voice to reflect the obvious concern of the community, which he expressed as follows (Daily Mail, not online):
"It greatly offended members of Bristol's Afro-Caribbean community. We believe it is culturally inappropriate and offensive.

"We all feel that the name Merchants Quarter was racist and we are glad to see the back of it."
The online results of a survey conducted by Mr. Tongogara's EU-funded organization are not to be missed, available here and here (pdfs) — it claims that "it is the case that nearly everyone we spoke to finds the name offensive," which is less surprising than you might think considering the "diversity" of solicited opinion in the above documents.

Local newspapers reported that the developers, who were no doubt descendants of slave-traders, suggested the name Bland Square in an effort at compromise but were shot down by activists who feared the name would conjure up images of vanilla. Thanks to the brave and subsidized efforts of community groups, the shopping centre in Bristol will finally be renamed Galleria London. But, Bristol having overcome one affront to exclusive inclusionism, I feel I must now apologize for the insensitive language used in the title of this post!
The phrase "shipshape and Bristol fashion" should not be used because it is deemed to be politically incorrect, a group of councillors has been told.

A training firm told them that the phrase originated from the slave trade and described black people being ready for sale.

[…] Fifteen district councillors in Wyre Forest, which covers Kidderminster, Worcs, and about 70 council staff attended a two-day "equalities and diversity" course this month.

[…] Another phrase the training firm considered politically incorrect was "nitty gritty", which it claimed was used to describe slaves in the lowest reaches of ships. But the Oxford Reference Dictionary says its origin is unknown.
From the Daily Telegraph, May 20, 2005, cited by Tim Worstall.

1 Comment:

Pietr said...

(A yellow submarine breaks up and crashes to the sea bed)
"Help us! Gawd help us!"