Sunday, May 20, 2007

Paradise Wildlife Park

My local paper has a wraparound cover this week advertising the Paradise Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire, under the politically incorrect headline "Paradise - it's all white".

Perhaps the consciously intended meaning of this headline was the fact that the zoo features a number of white animals, including white lions and white tigers.

The advertisement contains several pictures of children enjoying the facilities at the zoo. All of the children in these pictures are white. Is this a coincidence? Does it matter?

We are increasingly accustomed to "political correctness" - and this sometimes seems to entail compliance with some inauthentic and unconvincing vision of modern Britain, achieved by including token representatives of minority groups. Any gross failure to conform to this stereotype - for whatever reason - seems to stand out as an act of deliberate or inadvertent defiance.

My local paper serves a large borough of West London, containing people with a wide diversity of ethnic backgrounds. What message are the non-white families going to get from this advertisement? That they are not welcome at this Zoo?

Perhaps those responsible for this advertisement - including those at the local paper who accepted and printed it - will deny any conscious racism. But that's not the point. Racism is not only manifested as overt bigotry - it may also be manifested through unconscious choices. That's an excellent example of POSIWID - what matters here is the effect.

After all, racism is rarely acknowledged in ourselves. Racism is always other people, isn't it?

1 comment:

Scribe said...

I always wonder about the use of "light side" and "dark side", probably stemming from Star Wars. See also: religious purity (white light, although no corresponding "darklight"...) and scientist's coats (white = clean = objective).

But then, where does one draw the line between political correctness and being able to see in the dark? :)