Saturday, June 12, 2021
HomeComment: The racist Charlie Hebdo cartoon of Meghan makes me feel exhausted

Comment: The racist Charlie Hebdo cartoon of Meghan makes me feel exhausted


Yes, I’ve seen Charlie Hebdo’s latest cartoon. The Queen, sinister and gleeful, kneels on a pained Meghan Markle’s neck. The cover reads in French: “Why Meghan left Buckingham”, with Meghan’s response being: “Because I couldn’t breathe” —a clear reference to the George Floyd murder that had racial discourse at the forefront of conversation last spring. It’s a disgusting image, even for them, and it was met with furore, as it should have been. My reaction? I took it in for a moment and cringed at how shamelessly brutal it was. Then I got up to make a cup of tea and catch up on Made in Chelsea.

Charlie Hebdo

I don’t mean to sound dismissive. A million times in the past I’ve been the person expressing outrage online and IRL. Send me a petition, I’d sign it. Name the protest date, I’d be there. The thing is, anti-blackness is a year-round sport and it seems like every week there’s a new beast to fight.

The past couple of weeks alone have given way to awful commentary, especially surrounding the Meghan and Harry interview. The anti-woke brigade are always offensive and provoke extreme reactions from those who take offence but they are rarely ever worth the attention we give them. Part of the machine that has allowed them to thrive has been our outrage. In cases like this, the best defence is to disengage and that’s what I’ve done. It’s the same approach I take whenever I’m invited on radio to comment on the race issue du jour. I have no interest in explaining why people of colour deserve to be treated like human beings to people who can’t seem to grasp that concept.

Don’t get me wrong, there is definitely a time and place for making noise about racial injustice. It doesn’t need to be a case of turning away from activism entirely. It’s more a case of choosing my battles and, more importantly, choosing myself. What we don’t always remember is that sometimes the act of self-preservation in the form of indifference can be just as radical as marching. By deciding to laze around in my pyjamas and indulge in reality telly instead of writing an impassioned Twitter thread, I was prioritising my peace of mind.

Next time we’re faced with some flagrant injustice I may very well mobilise and join in with the push for change. That is my prerogative, and I would urge other people of colour to be equally discerning. The last thing we should do is allow ourselves to be drawn out by media outlets and polarising personalities who benefit from our anger.

My theory about awards shows is that, not unlike terrible boyfriends, the moment you decide you’re fed up with them, they start to get their act together. In this case the Grammys, which took place last night, were not only watchable but also spot on with winners. They were dead to me when they snubbed Beyoncé’s Lemonade for album of the year in 2017, but now she has broken the record for most Grammys by a female artist, I feel vindicated.

Blue Ivy (technically) won an award for her contribution to Brown Skin Girl. She is nine. The most impressive thing I’d accomplished at that age was perfecting the bunny ear shoe lace technique. Taylor won album of the year, the WAP performance was… memorable and Harry Styles out-dressed everyone. What more could you ask for? Combine last night with the brilliant Bafta nominations and Golden Globe wins and you’ve got one hell of an awards season. Let’s hope the Oscars don’t let the side down.


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