Apparently, prefacing any statement with “As a mother…” makes you automatically correct. It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is – transatlantic trade agreements, the plummeting of coinbase trading volumes, the legality of Hamas’s rule over the Gaza Strip…if you’re giving your opinion “as a mum” then you are unquestionably right.

I learned this the hard way. During the BLM protests following the murder of George Floyd, my Facebook became a game of racist Whack-A-Mole, with more and more people who I’d previously considered to be quite decent, actually popping their heads above the parapet to say something absurdly prejudiced. As quickly as I could unfriend one, another one would pop up. My unfriending got so cardiovascularly intense that my FitBit had to tell me to take a break.

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Whilst I chose to merely remove the majority of the KKK tribute acts, one status jolted through me much more painfully than the rest, because it came from someone whom my family and I had welcomed into our home on many an occasion.

She posted her support for statues of slave owners, citing her reason as their presence being an education to her children on Britain’s past. I asked whether she would mind if I installed a statue of Jimmy Saville on her street as an ‘education’ on our country’s past. For some reason, she was not quite so supportive.

I tried to explain that it is humiliating as a descendant of slaves (I’m only assuming that I am – my family is Jamaican and I’m guessing my African ancestors didn’t exactly arrive on the island on a cruise ship, so I’m putting two and two together) to see the orchestrators of their suffering, celebrated and lionized. She dug in her heels, stating that whilst this might be humiliating for non-white people, “as a mother” she has to prioritise her children’s education.

I replied that if her only method of educating her kids is to stand them in front of statues and point, then she’s a pretty useless mother.

Hands up, I knew I was dousing the fire with petrol. But the deluge of comments getting fired back at me by the Mumsnet militia, calling me ‘disgusting’ for daring to criticise any woman’s parenting, was at a comically ferocious level. A man had just been suffocated to death by a police officer…but sure, I’m the bad guy.

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The period after George Floyd’s death was a turning point in the way I saw myself – as proudly mixed-race but simultaneously so Welsh that daffodils could sprout from my ears at any moment. For a short while – the point at which Racist Whack-A-Mole was at its most intense – it seemed I couldn’t be both. That I had to choose one or the other.

As the heat cooled off and widespread lessons were learned, I realised that I could still embrace both parts of my identity, but that now and again I’d have to endure disappointments.

A vital lesson I took from that heart-breaking time, was the importance of listening to people who fundamentally disagree with you. Listen to what they are saying then ask yourself, or even them, why it is they are saying it. Even if those people are filled with hate, and spouting bile that hurts you viscerally, you have to hear them out. Not necessarily on your Facebook timeline – you should be able to enjoy your friends’ engagement announcements and the hilarity of your aunt commenting with capslock on for no reason, without bigotry peppering the feed. However, on a more societal level, those bigots must not be ignored.

Why? Because by understanding bigotry, we best equip ourselves to eliminate bigotry.

An unequivocal example was the global shock at Donald Trump being elected President of the US. There was widespread confusion as to how such a right-wing, xenophobic, chauvinistic, racist, supremacist could be elected after eight years of Obama’s premiership.

Well…because those right-wing, xenophobic, chauvinistic, racist voters didn’t simply disappear during Obama’s time in the Oval Office. The election of the first Black president didn’t evaporate the existing racists. They were merely quietened for a few years. There were many people who voted for Trump who were none of those horrible things, but for those who were…he helped them to reclaim their voices after they had been ignored.

That is why Trump’s Twitter ban is completely nonsensical (for perspective, Taliban leaders remain on Twitter). By taking a mouthpiece for the alt-right and banning him from Twitter, you are not eradicating alt-right supporters. You are merely pushing them underground, emphasising their ideology of being a revolutionary sect who is never served by the centre ground.

Do I like Donald Trump? Of course I don’t. If he were crossing the road in front of me, it would take me Herculean strength not to ‘forget’ to break. Even greater strength would be needed not to ‘accidentally’ reverse back over the crossing to ensure the job was really done.

But people such as him should not be silenced, because silencing evidently does not solve the problem. It just lets the problem fester and bubble away, until one day it comes to a head in the form of a luminously orange man being given the keys to the White House.

If we silence those with troubling views, it’ll simply happen again. The candidate may be less Wotsit-like in appearance, but I dare say his views will be just as hateful.

I can’t speak as a mother so I may be wrong, but in my home, conversations have solved more issues than sweeping under the carpet ever did.

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