Barry Humphries — the Australian comedian who performs as Dame Edna Everage –said something which seems to me to be true when being interviewed by the Radio Times. “Why do you thik Downton Abbey is so popular in the States? Because there are no black people in it.”
Although the aristocratic Crawley family ‘above stairs’ would have had some investment dealings in black slaves only a couple of generations previously, there were hardly more than a handful of black people in the whole of the country in the Edwardian times of Downton Abbey, so it would have been dis-historic of Julian Fellowes, the scriptwriter, to have included even one.
It couldn’t have happened among the servants ‘below stairs’ in Downton Abbey either. They swould not have tolerated a black employee there anymore — even if there’d been millions in the country as now — than the trade unions did in the multinational in which I worked over 40 years ago. Out of the 4,000 office and factory workers there, there wasn’t a single one even though Caribbean-British then comprised about 5% of the population.
When the government put pressure on the multinational management there who, in turn put pressure on the trade unions, about half-a-dozen blacks were recruited and scattered widely among the workforce (in the factory only) with a nod to the shop stewards that no more would be recruited. These were token blacks but the business could then say it wasn’t racist.
Blacks appear on BBC television quite frequently — albeit more than proportionately in the general population — and, more often than not, they turn out to be highly qualified professionals such as barristers and speak with impeccable upper-class accents. Fairly obviously — when thought about — most had been adopted as young children by middle-class families and subsequently sent to expensive private schools.
Such well-spoken blacks don’t represent blacks as a whole in the country where racism of an unspoken nature still operates — as it still does in America from what I read. The whole problem about racism is that multiracialism is a fallacy. Every group, or organisation or culture or country thanks that it and it alone is the norm, is superior, is correct. All the others are inferior. By our group-living past of millions of years that’s how we had to be in order to survive.
By all means different races can trade together amicably. Even different races can mix together as a work group during working hours with a common objective. But socially and in their leisure time, the races want to be among their own kind where and hen they can express their own idiosyncratic feelings fully. Racist cultures, like every other element of a culture, take a long time to change.