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"You're White - You Can't Write About This" Local Newspaper Tells Comedian
By Paul Cox
As you know, I occasionally invite guest writers to contribute to my Substack. This week, Paul Cox, an old friend from the comedy circuit, messaged me with a rather strange story of his own experience which I invite you to read below.
My name is Paul Cox, I’m a stand-up comedian, writer, and regular TV panelist. Not to brag but I also write a weekly whimsical opinion column for the Portsmouth News, my local newspaper.
Before I started in stand-up comedy, I was blissfully unaware that I am a straight white man. Thinking I was just Paul, a person no more or less important than anyone else, who likes to make people laugh. Since then, however, with more and more regularity, I have been reminded of my place in the world. If I’m honest I don’t really care. It hasn’t changed my view of myself or anyone else. I’ve always believed everyone is equal until they prove themselves otherwise. But, as I recently discovered, this view isn’t as widely shared as I’d assumed.
In the week following King Charles’ coronation I sat down to write my regular piece: you’ll remember that one of the stories at the time was that in a huge and upsetting development people discovered that when two white people have children, those children are also, inexplicably, white! So, I focused my main piece on the ridiculousness of Adjoa Andoh’s ‘terribly white’ comment. For those unaware, as the king and his family waved to well-wishers from a Buckingham Palace balcony, Adjoa Andoh decried that the event had “gone from the rich diversity of Westminster Abbey to the terribly white balcony” as fellow pundit Myleene Klass appeared aghast. UK press regulator Ofcom confirmed there have been over 4,000 complaints about her remarks making it the most complained-about moment of 2023.
For some reason, it turns out that if someone suggests that there is something wrong with a white family having white offspring in front of a gazillion people, you are supposed to enthusiastically nod along and pass on your congratulations. Naively, I failed to comply and recklessly set out on a voyage of light-hearted piss-taking, asking immature questions such as ‘does everything have to be viewed through the prism of race, sexuality and culture?’.
Turns out the answer is: YES! And what’s more, your skin colour dictates the type of questions you’re allowed to ask. Here’s the piece I submitted as my weekly column:
A relatively small but significantly well represented portion of society have convinced themselves that everything must be viewed through the prism of race, sexuality and culture. An extraordinary competition has ensued to crown the winner of the most victimised group. If we wind this back a few years, this all started with a noble desire to better represent minority groups - through generating awareness, discussion, and greater cohesion. However, roll forward to 2023 and we appear to have progressed to a point where instead of reducing racism, we simply encourage people to indulge in the ‘right’ type of racism. In a huge and upsetting development people have discovered that when two white people have children, the children are also white! Of course, I’m being sarcastic about Bridgerton actor Adjoa Andoh’s comment that the Royal family are ‘terribly white’. Against any other skin colour or culture that comment would be considered racist. Especially by the paradigm set out by team ‘everything is racist’. What an absurd place to find ourselves. If it didn’t make and destroy careers so regularly it would be very funny. It’s like a game of nonsense bingo. A game in which the winner is successful in saying the most ridiculous thing they can, on TV. The sad thing is this crusade is like a huge tyre rolling down a hill. It’s impossible to stop and if you stand in its way, you’ll be mushed into the ground with the rest of the sheep excrement. So, I boldly suggest that we all agree on a new set of basic rules. Hear me out here…
Rule 1: if a family is made up of people from one ethnic group… that is not terrible. Especially if the ethnic group is in the vast majority in their country of origin.
Rule 2: if you win a game of nonsense bingo, you must sit out the next game and let someone else play. I long for the day when this metaphoric tyre completes its destructive journey, by running out of steam and resetting common sense. Until then we must do as Winston Churchill said. Not fight them on the beaches, that would be mental… If you're going through hell, keep going. For the record I’m not offended by Adjoa Andoh’s comment. The only thing that offends me is that someone, somewhere, will convince themselves that THIS is progress. It’s not, it’s mental.
The response I received, the day before publication:
Re your main piece tomorrow, I am going to have to ask you for something else. We live in an age where racism is an incredibly touchy subject and I am concerned about a white person making comments about racism and using phrases like 'competition for the most victimised group' and 'the 'right' type of racism' in the paper. Apologies, but it just doesn't sit well with me.
I was taken slightly aback. What does my skin colour have to do with my ability to observe? But seeing as we are playing this game, let’s look at the facts (for what they’re worth): I am white, Adjoa Andoh’s comments were about white people, therefore I have a legitimate reason to respond and do so in jest, if I wish. “Sure, I’ll write something else,” I thought. How about I write about this response because it is aimed directly at me. So, with that in mind, I sent back the following:
This is an incredible response. Please can I write a piece about this response?
I look forward to hearing from you.
It appears I got this wrong too. What am I like?
Paul, I've just asked you to write about something else if you can, I've asked other people at the paper for their thoughts, it's not just me. Please don't take any offence, none is meant.
I did write another piece and was never offered the right to appeal or indeed make any changes. The editor has every right to make decisions, I accept and respect this but I do find this a strange approach. I wish I had some deeply profound observation about what this means for society but I’m just a comedian so I’ll just sit here and wait for my face paints to arrive, one for each view I am allowed to have.