Somewhere Under the Skies of Wessex

Look Both Ways

It was reported today that a West End play will be shown to an all-black audience. Amy Gallagher, the mayoral candidate for London’s Social Democratic Party said the plan was racist. She is reported to have said

This is definitely racist. Excluding anyone on the basis of skin colour in this way is racist.

Most people would agree with her.

We have here an example of cognitive dissonance; the self proclaimed anti-racists adopting a racist policy by barring certain people from the theatre because of the colour of their skin.

The theory of cognitive dissonance was first revealed to the world by Leon Festinger in 1957. According to TheoryHub. His theory was

Based on the belief that people strive toward consistency within themselves and are driven to make changes to reduce or eliminate an inconsistency.

His theory was that if someone held two views (or cognitions) which conflicted with one another, they would suffer psychological discomfort, and the individual would be motivated to act to resolve that conflict.

According to TheoryHub,

A considerable number of empirical studies have demonstrated how people seek out new information and external justification to support their position.

One such justification is provided by the notion that racism is reliant on a power dynamic. Take for example an article by ThoughtCo in which is discussed supposed anti-white discrimination. The author takes the view that anti-white discrimination does not exist, indeed it cannot exist, because black people do not have the institutional power to affect the lives of white people. QED, white people cannot be the victims of racism.

So there you have it; to avoid the psychological discomfort that comes from holding conflicting points of view simply change the definition of unhelpful words. Simple really.