An attempt by the Senior Partner of Freshfields to express solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement has been strongly criticised by staff who complained that his email was "offensive in tone". It subsequently emerged that his message had been rewritten and approved by black colleagues before he sent it.

As highly-charged protests wrack the US following the death of George Floyd under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer, some corporate entities have been moved to state that they recognise there is a problem and will do better to combat racism.

In a heartfelt email to the entire Magic Circle firm this week, Freshfields Senior Partner Edward Braham wrote, "I have been shocked by the killing of George Floyd as well as the other recent killings in the US. I am not alone in being moved by the events that have followed and the solidarity shown by people around the world".

"The last few days have been a stark reminder for all of us of the racism in our society and of the personal risks that so many Blacks face and continue to face", he said. "These events are made even more tragic be the higher percentage of Blacks falling ill or dying due to Covid-19".

"This is a time for speaking up for our Black colleagues", continued Braham, who explained that US colleagues were exploring how to "take concrete steps to do better within our firm and by the communities in which we work and live".

"In particular we need to increase our numbers of Black team members and put in the types of systems that will nurture these talented people to rise to more senior positions", he said.


[Gag looted from the internet]

But some staff expressed outrage that London-based Braham, who is white, had sent the message.

"Needless to say, both the 'Blacks' and 'Non Blacks' are pretty disgusted that the Senior Partner of Freshfields appears to be still living in apartheid South Africa", a furious insider told RollOnFriday.

"The whole email is pretty offensive in tone", said the source, "but I think most people were disturbed by the reference to black people as 'Blacks' wouldn't refer to a group of white people as 'Whites'".

Other staff had issues with the "otherness" of the email, said the source, and had complained that the reference to "these talented people" suggested that black people "are somehow markedly different to people who are not black" or that "everyone who is black is the same".

pr box

"Every partner's being sent one to prevent UPCEs - Unsupervised Partner Comms Events".

However, the picture grew more complicated when it emerged that Braham's email had been checked and redrafted by a group of black partners in the US before it was sent. 

Staff unintentionally became aware of their involvement when US partner Timothy Wilkins accidentally copied the entire firm into an email he sent to Braham in which he took the blame for the internal blowback.

"Happy to jump on a call", Wilkins informed everyone at Freshfields. "I take full responsibility for this and appreciate that language hits differently across jurisdictions and have an idea of how to diffuse tensions on our BAN call coming up".

Wilkins followed up with another email half an hour later. "Dear Colleagues World Wide," he wrote, "With huge egg on my face, I did not mean to hit Reply All". Braham "had reached out to me and others to provide feedback on his heartfelt words", said Wilkins.

"I appreciate that the term Black or Blacks hits out of tune in certain jurisdictions", explained the New York lawyer. "And, I must admit I must just be an old school radical where the James Brown refrain of 'I'm Black and I'm Proud' - is just how I speak - especially at a time when people are marching in the streets to protest violence against the Black community".

"So, thank you around the network for helping me understand better that adding 'people' and 'colleagues' after the term helps to humanize our experience to others in an important way".

One source said she found it ironic that aggravated staff, some of whom were white, had ended up compelling a black man to apologise for how he referred to other black people.

Braham replied thanking Wilkins for his "characteristically kind and thoughtful email and all you are doing". But not everyone was placated, with one insider complaining that Braham was "not apologising himself, even when he had sent it in his own name".

Asked about the controversy, Braham commented, “My email was sent to express my deep concern for the situation in the US and I am very sorry for any offence that I caused. I am grateful that people have given me feedback and am committed to learning from this, as we continue to increase our commitment to diversity and inclusion across the firm”.

Tip Off ROF


Anonymous 05 June 20 09:00

Granted, it is a toe-curling email. But he clearly had nothing but good intentions and it seems a bit much that it has prompted such outrage within the firm. I can’t stand these woke idiots who get offended about absolutely everything. 

SadBoy 05 June 20 09:03

Just goes to show no-one can do right for doing wrong on this issue. Someone is always going to be upset. Puts me off speaking up at all, which is not what I’d prefer to do. 

Bingo 05 June 20 09:11

From NYT columnist Bari Weiss yesterday:

"The civil war inside The New York Times between the (mostly young) wokes the (mostly 40+) liberals is the same one raging inside other publications and companies across the country. The dynamic is always the same. 

The Old Guard lives by a set of principles we can broadly call civil libertarianism. They assumed they shared that worldview with the young people they hired who called themselves liberals and progressives. But it was an incorrect assumption.

The New Guard has a different worldview...They call it "safetyism," in which the right of people to feel emotionally and psychologically safe trumps what were previously considered core liberal values, like free speech.

I've been mocked by many people over the past few years for writing about the campus culture wars. They told me it was a sideshow. But this was always why it mattered: The people who graduated from those campuses would rise to power inside key institutions and transform them."

Anonymous 05 June 20 09:22

That's the issue here - the professionally offended are scrutinizing anything to take issue with it. This chap looks like he was well intentioned and not being racist but still found himself having to apologise despite trying to take steps to improve the BAME community.

Anonymous 05 June 20 09:31

No, @09.22, he looks like he was saying what he thought he needed to say to be shown to be doing something without actually thinking through the issues or caring about the substance in anything other than a superficial way. It was clearly just one off the to-do list for that morning. 

If this public shaming means he actually now bothers to educate himself so this doesn't happen again, that can only be a good thing, no?

Anonymous 05 June 20 09:50

@ 09:31

If he was just doing it to get it off his desk then he wouldn't have circulated it to a group of black partners for their feedback prior to distribution. It looks like a good faith mistake. 

Anon 05 June 20 10:18

The hypocrisy of firms rushing to issue virtue-signalling platitudes on social media this week is something to behold. The profession has a dire record on BAME and would be far better-served spending its time getting its own house in order rather penning well-meaning but empty communiques. 

Anonymous 05 June 20 10:20

Look at his contrite, arse-kissing apology. Poor sod. He tried to do a kind, heartfelt thing and was pilloried. I agree with the commentator above, there’s no point in speaking up if you’re always going to get shouted down. 

Omg 05 June 20 10:26


-Woke scolds blast him for a minuscule bit of clumsiness when he’s clearly trying to do the right thing (plenty of chiefs are not talking to their staff about this in this passionate way). 

-turns out it was drafted with help of black people, utterly negating woke scolds’ assumption this was an old white dude mistake.  

-black person has to bend the knee to woke scolds

The danger of purity tests. 

Anon 05 June 20 10:49

Agree with the comments. Doesn’t seem to matter what he actually thinks or was doing (or was trying to do). If you don’t express it quite right, you are attacked and pilloried. Why couldn’t staff simply feedback if they felt the language used was outmoded etc, whilst acknowledging the intention? Rather than claiming to  be outraged and disgusted, to justify humiliatIng someone on RoF? 

Not woke 05 June 20 10:54

@09:22 the profession has a rate of BAME members in line with the BAME population of England and will soon have a higher rate. The profession has been and is doing a great job at diversifying. 

Anonymous 05 June 20 11:04

@ 10:54

You're confusing reference to the legal profession with the well known phrase about the professionally offended.

Daveyy009 05 June 20 11:10

This incident is so telling - he clearly had good intentions and was expressing positive ideas about inclusivity. But if he's not 100% in lockstep with the latest acceptable language, all hell breaks loose. That just discourages people from speaking out. Also, black people disagree about these kinds of issues all the time (and as happened here), which just shows that these issues are complex. More compassion and understanding is clearly needed but we seem to be moving in the opposite direction.

Anon 05 June 20 11:30

You couldn’t make this stuff up.   I blame his PR or comms team.  Surely someone else drafted this or approved it.  

But it’s the new tyranny.  Any attempt at expressing any thought in any form that is not acceptable to a particular minority view or group is met with vilification and condemnation.  It’s the opposite of the very freedom and tolerance that minorities hold dear.  

Anon 05 June 20 12:06

Why is the use and definition of the English language now owned by a certain group of people?  The use of the term “Blacks” is a reasonable word to define a racial group and taken in the context of a positive and supportive email it should not reasonably be taken as offensive.   The term “whites” is used frequently.   Are we now saying that it is decreed by the perma-offended woke brigade that the term “blacks” is racist and can’t be used?   There is an increasingly left wing dogmatic group, who claim to be liberals but are actually anything but.  As said above, it’s a new tyranny.  The change and contraction in language, and the rise of group think and group identify  - Orwell as ever got it spot on when he was writing over 70 years ago. 

Jacob Rees-Bogg 05 June 20 12:26

I totally agree with the above comments. The use and definition of the English language should not be owned by a certain group of people; particularly in relation to words describing a certain group of people who were for hundreds of years owned and sold by another group of people, but let's not name names.

If I feel justified describing someone in a way that in my mind is reasonable to define that racial group, then I should be allowed to, even if it causes deep and hurtful offence to that group. They should accept the definition imposed on them by me and how dare they speak out about it.

Indeed, Orwell got it "spot on" when he described the situation we find ourselves in where our own language is used against free-thinking and likeminded people such as myself who can no longer refer to other racial groups in ways we so wish without being branded, cough, racist.

How I yearn for such time when I can go back to calling them whatever in my mind I deem reasonable.

Nobody 05 June 20 13:04

Ricky Gervais gets it. I have the right to say whatever I like (with certain boundaries) and you have the right to be offended by whatever I said. It's then up to me to decide if I care that you're offended.

If it's not unreasonable, don't apologise.

Awake Insider 05 June 20 13:06

I agree, Reality Check. I was beginning to think it was just me. Or that I'd stumbled below the line on DM Online.

And Anon 12:06, I've never heard white people being referred to "frequently" as "Whites", so I'm not sure which  decade you're from or which private members' clubs you frequent to make that an accurate statement.

There's also nothing wrong with being "woke", and those who consider themselves to be, or would like to be (in the sense that they realise they have a lot to learn, and want to learn it) aren't actually offended by being called it (so that puts paid to all of these "perma-offended" comments on here).  

The whole statement was a bloody shambles, and should have had the input from black colleagues across the network offices, not just in the US, given that it was a statement due to be sent....across the network. He also should have apologised internally before being forced into doing so by having to comment on a ROF story (spoiler alert: he didn't, and still hasn't).

Anon 05 June 20 13:11

“certain group of people who were for hundreds of years owned and sold by another group of people”

Yes.  And taken as slaves in the first place by other black people in their own country as a result of war and slave raids and sold for profit.   But that analysis is denied by the woke brigade. It doesn’t fit the racism-by-numbers narrative.  Instead they want to pretend that slavery was only ever a purely white on black issue, that man hasn’t been enslaving his fellow man (and women and children) since the dawn of time and didn’t do it in Egypt, central and southern America and the Middle East for centuries before the Atlantic slave trade developed, and that there is no issue now in the world with slave trafficking whatsoever from other parts of the world.  No, let’s ignore that.  It’s the bad white man.  Blame him for it all.  And god help you if you’re an educated, successful, white middle class man in a position of power in a City firm. It’s open season.   


Anonymous 05 June 20 13:25


"And god help you if you’re an educated, successful, white middle class man in a position of power in a City firm. It’s open season."

Awww, bless.  I'm glad the educated, successful, white middle class men in positions of power have someone to defend them for once!!!

Anonymous 05 June 20 13:28

ROF knows what it is doing.

They understand that clicks and views are needed. They study which articles receive the highest amount of traffic.

It is well established that articles about race and gender receive the highest number of comments and thumbs up/down.

Jacob Rees-Bogg 05 June 20 13:33

Anon @ 13.11

Excellent comment, dear boy. We must remind them at every opportunity that the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade was a result of their own corruption by selling their own people and that they should have done the honourable thing and allowed the slaves to have been taken down to the bottom of the ship free of charge. Oh, and let's not mention anything about the colonial empire built afterwards shall we? It was their own bloody spear-chucking fault for not inventing rifles.

Fast forward a few hundred years and here we find ourselves, benefiting from a society that was (to a large extent) built on systemic racism, permanently looking over our shoulders whenever we dare say what we actually think because to do so may condemn us to being branded, cough, racist. The horror.





Anon 05 June 20 13:51

JRM - classic straw man argument there. 

The previous poster didn’t say it was their fault, he or she said it was important to realise the issue of slavery is not just white on black which you appear to think it is.  Your response actually proves the point the poster was making.  

Anon 05 June 20 13:57

“this comments section stinks of racism”

Yet again - the allegations of racism are brought out.  Virtue signalling at its worst.  There is nothing on this comments section that is racist.   It’s like the woke cult can’t bear to engage in any form of reasoned discussion - it simply has to rubbish those who have a different view and immediately label them as racist.  Is it racist to say that the SP at FF didn’t mean any harm?  Is it racist to say that the word “blacks” when used in a positive and supportive manner shouldn’t be seen as an issue.  Is it racist to point out that slavery wasn’t a white on black issue?   No.  

Alex 05 June 20 14:19

Being black I don't find it offensive. It is clearly well intentioned. I find more offensive the radio silence from some other firms on the issue.

Anonymous 05 June 20 14:49

I’m black, and was offended. Which shows the potential difference in views and the fact that people outside the US should have been consulted. 

Anon 05 June 20 16:59

Anon 05 June 20 13:11

"Instead they want to pretend that slavery was only ever a purely white on black issue, that man hasn’t been enslaving his fellow man (and women and children) since the dawn of time and didn’t do it in Egypt, central and southern America and the Middle East for centuries before the Atlantic slave trade developed, and that there is no issue now in the world with slave trafficking whatsoever from other parts of the world.  No, let’s ignore that.  It’s the bad white man.  Blame him for it all.  And god help you if you’re an educated, successful, white middle class man in a position of power in a City firm. It’s open season."  

This completely ignores the fact that Western Society is built on the backs of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade (and not the Egyptian trade or South American trade, etc) and that this trade which was justified by the slave owners expressly on the grounds of superiority of one race over all others and that those justifications have continued on (directly and indirectly) even after the abolotion of that slave trade (eg with the likes of the Jim Crow laws in the US, the abuse of police powers when enforcing laws, etc). 

The Artist Formerly Known As Queenie 05 June 20 17:11

What is the appropriate description of the group formerly known as “blacks”?
I don’t wish to offend and I’m sure the term was ok last week.  


Anon 05 June 20 17:46

“Western Society is built on the backs of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade”

It is a trope that is often deployed.  What evidence do you have for that claim?  It’s often trotted out, but can you actually justify and demonstrate it to be true?  Taking this country, how are our legal and parliamentary systems built “on the back of” slavery or reflective of it?  As slavery was abolished in the first half of the C19, why were the factors post dating slavery not equally or more important in developing this country?  How was the decision to grant rights to extend the vote to women built on slavery or impacted by it?  Or the two world wars which shaped this country in the C20?   

Realistic 05 June 20 18:18

Some Western countries didn't have colonies or slaves so the idea that the success of the West relies on those is wrong. Did it help a bit or to some extent? Sure.

Anonymous 05 June 20 18:49

@15.17 A "woke" is a person, usually enjoying some form of privilege, who likes to demonstrate how aware they are of injustice, sometimes to ridiculous extremes.

Anonymous 05 June 20 19:21

Anon 05 June 20 17:46

It is a trope that is often deployed. 

He sets up his straw man and then he knocks it down.

I would go on but to see so many of you insisting, against all evidential reality, that all people are treated equally now, to watch you use misuse normative statements as descriptive statements, in order to undermine efforts for change actually makes me want to give up.

You're pretending to care about social justice while twisting the terminology and the ideas to maintain the status quo and suit your own right wing agenda.

If you are white and you get stopped by the police or arrested for some petty or even non-existent misdemeanour you are not afraid that you might be beaten or killed.  If you are black then you fear that every time.

Until you understand and accept that fundamental truth you will remain a racist.  If you don't support anti-racism, if you think that the status quo is fine then you are a racist.

It really is that simple.  

Anon 05 June 20 19:23

@Not Woke

Anonymous 05 June 20 22:25

Looks like a one or maybe two people posting the same old crap and pretending to be a multitude.

I wish RoF would verify accounts rather than allowing this free for all.

They do it for the message board now.  Why allow the comments to turn into a National Front rally?

Dougie 06 June 20 07:11

‘This comments section stinks of racism’. Completely agree, actually embarrassed by most. White privilege.

Jacob Rees-Bogg 06 June 20 10:42


You are absolutely correct, old boy. Some Western Countries did not have slaves or colonies so let us examine those that did:-

British Empire - Slaves and Colonies

Spanish Empire - Slaves and Colonies

French Empire - Slaves and Colonies 

Portuguese Empire - Slaves and Colonies

Dutch Empire - Slaves and Colonies 

German Empire - Slaves and Colonies 

Belgium Empire - Slaves and Colonies 

Thankfully, however, the British Government was righteous enough to abolish plantation slavery but only after it had obtained astronomical wealth because of it - so much so that the British government could afford to compensate (quite generously) slavers post abolition.

But notwithstanding the above, you are absolutely right, some Western countries didn’t have slaves or colonies but are doing quite well today; like Iceland.


Anon 06 June 20 12:38

Hey Token.  Cast your eyes over this draft message from our managing partner.  Send your approval in10 mins.  Thanks.

Peace ✌🏽 06 June 20 13:03

Ridiculous he was well intentioned, that’s all that matters and he was big enough to apologise to the whole firm about it. Not racist or too proud, these snowflakes better find a better story! 

Anon 06 June 20 13:42

Unbelievable. How can every other firm in the city send a well intentioned email to its staff and Freshfields can’t without getting it totally wrong, issue an apology and hold someone in a different office responsible? Classic. Another example of poor internal comms. Do they even have a PR or CMO??

Anon 06 June 20 17:42

JRM - why did slavery cause the social and democratic changes in Britain in the C20?  You tell me.  

Anonymous 06 June 20 18:12

Are Brits supposed to be proud when someone reminds us that "white British people abolished the slave trade".


I work there 06 June 20 18:16

@peace, I can assure you he didn't. Not at any point. His apology as a comment to the ROF story was the first time that he did. Don't assume when you don't actually know.

Anonymous 07 June 20 14:33

@ Jacob Rees-Bogg 05 June 20 13:33

permanently looking over our shoulders whenever we dare say what we actually think because to do so may condemn us to being branded, cough, racist

The myth of the tyranny of political correctness needs to be put to bed now.  It's just another way the far right use to silence those who speak up against them.

Boris Johnson called gay men "bumboys" and Muslim women "letterboxes"  and he called Commonwealth citizens "flag waving piccaninnies".  He's now the Prime Minister.  His habitual abuse towards and contempt for minorities and the weakest members of society hasn't held him back.  It's a feature, not a bug.

Stop lying and stop trying to make justify your own racism.

Too old, too confused 07 June 20 18:09

Whilst I found his statement cringe worthy he meant well. Please tell me why you cannot use the word blacks, what does the "b" stand for blm? Many of the protester are wearing clothes saying black and proud it is stating a fact. Or is it only OK for that race to say it? There is the abhorrent n word, yet it is used in music. In response to some previous comments, yes I have described as white, has it offended me no. I am not trying to offend anyone just confused about when words are acceptable. We all inhabit this planet and I truly wish we could all get on with each other, no divisions or hate. I hear the term snowflake which believe to mean easily offended, this I fear will cause  more harm in society. As much as we may disagree freedom of speach is allowed. 

Gillen 07 June 20 20:42

The amount of white fragility and white privilege that oozes from so many of these comments is horrific, but sadly not surprising.

"He was just doing his best", "he was well intentioned". WTAF. Any thinking and feeling person with just a little bit of knowledge of history and an ounce of common sense should understand why it's not OK to refer to POC as "Blacks", no matter the context. That a senior partner at a major law firm, who presumably is well educated, didn't seem to think this was a problem, is even more jarring. And that a whole bunch of people on here are saying "you tell me why it's wrong" is exactly what white fragility and white privilege are all about - let the oppressed minority tell me why what I'm doing to them is wrong, all while I maintain my level of comfort (built on the back of that oppression) and dress it up as "well intentioned". 

The comments denying that the UK and US were built on the back of the slave trade are, quite simply, revisionist racism. By saying it, and by pointing to slavery in Africa, the Middle East, South America etc, all you are saying is that the blame for the slave trade anywhere lies with those who were enslaved. Get something into those narrow minds of yours - the fact that humans have been enslaving humans for centuries DOES NOT MAKE IT RIGHT. Nor does it make it excusable or acceptable to say "well somebody else did it so it's not just a black-white problem". "I didn't start it" is a 3-year-old's argument. And Donald Trump's.

So pull your entitled heads out of that mass of elitist, privileged sand. Accept that it's just not right to refer to POC as "Blacks". Stop shifting the blame onto "woke scolds" or whatever other overused trope is currently doing the rounds to describe people who actually care about social justice, eradicating racism and improving race relations - especially in a still overly white, overly male, overly privileged profession like law. Accept responsibility, as white people, that you need to educate yourselves on racism, and white privilege, and their effects on minorities.

Get over your white fragility - just like you tell POC and minorities to get over the injustices that have been done to them for centuries, and that continue to be done to them. Every. Single. Day.



Anonymous 07 June 20 22:12

How many white people posting in the comments would like to be treated by society in general and by the police and courts in particular in the same way that black people are generally treated.


People know what is happening, they just refuse to acknowledge it.  And more than that they don't ask themselves why, if a particular treatment is not acceptable for them, they are okay with other people being treated that way.

Anonymous 07 June 20 22:15

Does anyone think we should commission a new statue of Edward Colson to replace the one thrown into the river?

Perhaps we can use it as the bowsprit for the new Royal Yacht.  We could even name the yacht after him.  

If no-one finds that an acceptable idea, why the hell are they moaning about the damn thing being torn down?

Dearie 08 June 20 10:34

Why are we moaning about the statue being torn down? Here are a few reasons:

1. A petition to remove it gathered about 11,000 signatures (for a city population over 500,000) and the matter was actively being debated by the City Council what to do with it

2. But don't worry, a bunch of angry people have decided for you, for me and for everyone else what should happen 

3. Even better, they did it by force. What's not to love? I'm wondering which building or statue will be next. 

4. I like to think our profession upholds the rule of law. What I saw was the rule of law and democracy being stomped upon. What next? Library holds books we disagree with; book burnings next?

5. The BLM campaign deserves a much better representation than this. 

Anonymous 08 June 20 12:10

@too old, too confused,

Again, you can say "black people" or "black colleagues" or "Black Lives Matter". 

You can say "he is black" or "he is white".

You can't say "Blacks".  Because you wouldn't say "Whites".

Hope that very simple explanation helps alleviate your (inexplicable) confusion.

Anonymous 08 June 20 14:20


Well, he was just doing his best. Do you think that someone would write an email expressing solidarity with POC and deliberately refer to black people in an offensive manner? Presumably you don't think that he did that. What is more, as the article quite clearly states, he had POC colleagues in the NY office review the email before it was sent, so I think you are being uncharitable when you say ‘it is even more jarring…that he didn't seem to think this was a problem’. He took an extra step to try and ensure the language in the email was not offensive, presumably because he was at least dimly aware that he was venturing into a difficult area. Now, as it happens, I agree that the use of the word ‘black’ in the manner in which it was used in the email was clumsy and inarticulate and ill thought through (both by the sender and the POC partners in NY who reviewed it). But I don't think it is helpful (to anyone) when someone is criticised for at least trying to do the right thing. As long as people’s intentions are good and well meaning, we need to allow a bit of latitude for people to make the odd error in the language they use.

One of the issues that I think white people struggle with on this whole topic is the apparently conflicting demand that on the one hand ‘You can never understand us, because you are not a POC’ and on the other hand ‘You must understand us and you must know all the things that you are doing wrong and that POC find offensive’. Fixing the evil of racism has to be an honest conversation and an open dialogue. Yes, a white person has never and can never walk in the shoes of a POC, but I would suggest to you that it is going to be even harder for a white person to understand all the ways that they need to change if they are not even allowed to engage in a dialogue about how to do so. Whether you like it or not, fixing a problem is rarely ever about one group of people telling another group of people what to do and the second group of people going away and doing it without asking any questions. We need to talk to each other, not shout at each other.

Jacob Rees-Bogg 08 June 20 15:50

The article has generated a lot of comments, sixty two and counting. The article was about the choice of words used by a Partner at a global law firm to describe a group of people.

The article has shone a much needed light into the topic of race.

The problem in the U.K. is that we, for the most part, refuse to accept that there is a race problem. 

What the demonstrations over the past week or so has shown us is that there is a race problem in the U.K. 

We are not immune to it, so we must confront it. 

We can either accept that our society is not perfect, or we can live in ignorant bliss.

If we choose to accept that our society is not perfect, we must collectively agree that something has to change. 

That change starts with articles like this. Change means progression. 

We can agree to disagree but let’s not deny the underlying fact; our society in the U.K. is racist - so what are we going to do about it?

Anonymous 08 June 20 16:28

Why is it important?

Anonymous 08 June 20 16:31

Anon 08 June 20 13:30

“White fragility”.  That’s surely the definition of a racist statement.   

And once again you use the language and social justice to close down the conversation and defend the racist status quo.  Well done.  No-one even noticed.

Anon 08 June 20 18:29

How on Earth is it “defending the racist status quo” to point out that making a derogatory comment based entirely on a group’s racial colour (here, “white fragility”) is itself racist?  

Anonymous 09 June 20 08:20

Realistic 05 June 20 18:18

Some Western countries didn't have colonies or slaves so the idea that the success of the West relies on those is wrong. Did it help a bit or to some extent? Sure.

If only you were realistic enough to realise that ALL economies benefited from slavery whether they had slaves on a large scale or not.  Cotton produced by slaves was exported around the world.  Not only did the cheap clothes benefit every place they were sold, the export of cotton funded the building of railroads and US western expansion which in turn produced more goods that serviced the world.

It may come as surprise to you but what some people call globalism is not new.

Gillen 09 June 20 08:44

@anonymous 14:20

I don't know what went through his mind, what he thought and didn't think was appropriate. But that's exactly the point - it should not even need more than a split second for any reasonable person, especially a white person, to know that referring to POC as "Blacks" is not appropriate. And whilst I get that he "took an extra step to try and ensure the language in the email was not offensive", I also don't think that saying "but my POC colleagues approved it" should let him off the hook. It's not difficult to understand what is and is not appropriate - and a partner at Freshfields should not have to be told.

I know it can be frustrating for white people to to feel that you're damned if you do, damned if you don't. I know it can seem like POC are nitpicking or being "too sensitive". But try to see it from our perspective - we have had to deal with inappropriate names, tags, stereotyping (not to mention outright racism and oppression) for centuries. We don't think it's too much to ask just to be referred to as people! I'm really sorry, but good intentions are just not enough, and being well meaning is a convenient cloak to cover one's racial insensitivity with. If using common sense requires "a bit of latitude" then how is change ever going to be effected?

I agree with you that "fixing the evil of racism has to be an honest conversation and an open dialogue". However, talking is not enough. Actions are what bring about change. And, whilst I understand it can be hard for white people to understand all the ways that they need to change, this comments section is an example of the kind of dialogue we should be having. For that, I'm grateful. The problem, however, is that whenever the issue of white privilege is brought up, whenever the POC camp points out something that's offensive, we are the ones that get shouted down.

So, if we can't even say what's offensive to us, or what's appropriate; if we can't even define what are acceptable parameters for our discussion, then what are we even talking about?

Gillen 09 June 20 08:49

@Anon 13:30

"White fragility" is not a racist statement. Racism is "prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior".

White fragility is a broad term used to describe white people's discomfort at and resultant resistance to talking about the white race's oppression of POC, the existence of white privilege and its effects on and contribution to systemic racism and prejudice in many Western societies.

Don't confuse the two, because (1) it's just incorrect and (2) by doing so you have done exactly what you accused me of doing - closing down the conversation and defending the racist status quo.

Anon 09 June 20 17:08

Disagree with the above.   Labelling a non desirable attribute as belonging to a particular race is of course racist.  It is saying that all white people share a characteristic because of colour.  There is no evidence that white people are more or less fragile than any other race.  It descends into group labelling based on race rather than looking at individual characteristics.   If someone said “black weakness” or “black jealousy” or “black egos” it would be rightly stated to be prejudiced. The very word “blacks” meets criticism as evidenced by the article.    There can’t be different rules about this kind of thing.  There needs to be an objective standard.  

Anonymous 09 June 20 21:38

@  Dearie 08 June 20 10:34

These are monuments to human traffickers who paid people to look the other way.  There is no place for them in a civilised society.  Would we put up a monument to Jimmy Saville?  He raised lots of money to charity.  In Columbia the leaders of drug cartels provide medicines, medical treatment, education, even improve roads and housing in the ghettos and slums.  Should we advise the governments there to overlook the murder and torture they engage in and put up a couple of statues?  I'm sure the people living in the barrio would vote for it.

Just stop it already.  

Anonymous 10 June 20 00:15

If you want to sum this thread up in a single post, here it is.

Four tory MPs started started cleaning "was a racist" off of the Winston Churchill statue.  They were told they were doing it wrongly and could damage the statue permanently.  A black man (|incidentally called Winston) was brought in to do it.  When he finished the four tories stood in front of the statue to have photographs taken to make it look like they had done it.

Maybe that's why they kill us.  So that no-one complains when they take credit for our work.

Anonymous 10 June 20 00:16

And here's the link for the MPs who claimed to clean the statue.

Anon 10 June 20 10:27

Who gets to decide what monuments should exist including those on private property?  The local authorities / government, based on the rule of law and reasoned debate and discussion?  Or a baying mob, demanding its particular views take priority?  

And if the latter, what next?  Any figure from history who has upset a particular group must have their statue removed and any trace of existence wiped out?   Who gets to decide this?  The mob again?  

Anon 10 June 20 13:14

“the white race's oppression of POC”

Yet another broad brush generalisation using intellectually lazy terms.  I’ve not oppressed anyone and millions of other white people haven’t either.  I’m not responsible for the actions of people who lived hundreds of years a ago, anymore then a black person is responsible for the actions of the Zulus, for example, and the atrocities they committed.  Stop trying to fan the flames of division and prejudice.  

Anonymous 10 June 20 15:00

If reasoned debate and discussion had taken place then the statues would have the consent of the local community.

You are mistaking the imposition of authority with reasoned debate and discussion.

Anonymous 10 June 20 15:03

And in addition to the article linked to in my previous post showing how the Bristolians wouldn't pay for the statue you might want to read this one about how more recently the local community attempted to broaden acceptance for it and were rejected.

Anonymous 10 June 20 16:23

You would also benefit from reading this thread by the history professor Kate Williams about Colston and his statue.

Gillen 10 June 20 19:49

@ Anon 10 June 20 13:14

So because you feel you’re “not responsible”, that means that everyone should just ignore the facts? As long as you’re comfortable with yourself then everything’s ok?

We are not talking about some isolated incident that happened “hundreds of years ago”. The whole point is that the systems that were put in place all those years ago are still in place, and you are benefitting from them. 

I’m not fanning the flames of division and prejudice, son - I’m one of the people trying to put them out so we can all be treated equally. 

Anonymous 10 June 20 20:35

Dear Rof

Please change your current comment system so that people who wish to comment on stories in the news section have to register.

I will gladly forego my ability to commentate if the section is better regulated.


Anonymous 11 June 20 08:43

It's weird to hear a bunch of people who never knew or cared about or had even hard of this guy until his statue went in the drink and now suddenly he's representative of a whole culture under threat.

How do you take yourselves seriously?  I can't.

Anonymous 11 June 20 09:38

It's great how the world has gone mad about statues of slave traders and JK Rowlilng's opinions about transsexuals.

It's a good thing we're not wasting our energy on the climate change emergency or the global pandemic or we wouldn't be able to deal with the really important issues.

Bored of this 11 June 20 10:10

Wasting our energy? No. This is the biggest, most important cause of of our time.

I mean, everything is racist. Climate change is racist. Coronavirus is racist. Sexuality is racist. Wealth is racist. Poverty is racist. Being white is racist. If we tackle this, every injustice, everywhere, will be healed.


95% of people, black and white, don't care about this. The 5% - real racists and those who seek to be offended by everything - are getting way too much airtime.

Shekels 11 June 20 10:22

I'm a gay Jew, but I'm also white. Where do I fit on the oppression spectrum? 

This is all nonsense. Grow up. Work hard. Stay out of trouble. It's that easy.

You won't get anywhere doing this, trust me.

Yuck 11 June 20 10:38

If the above comments are an accurate reflection of the UK legal industry then it is no longer a place that I want to be. 

The UK: “how dare you be offended by my racist comments?! how dare you accuse me, a proud racist, of being racist?!”. At least the US is direct with its racism. This country, on the other hand, is full of snides and cancerous cowards.

It takes a deep level of pathology to ardently refuse to try and understand a group of people in pain. 

@ Yuck 11 11 June 20 15:22

@ Yuck 11.

I take issue with your reference to 'a group of people'. Groupthink and pseudo victimisation are dangerous concepts; you're playing with fire.

Surely we should be aiming to divide people between "cool" or "prick", not "black or white". Some white guys are cool, some are pricks. Some black guys are cool, some are pricks. Dare I say it - some disabled guys are cool, some are pricks.

anon 11 June 20 19:43

There are no racist comments on this board.  There are people who question and challenge, and there are people with a particular ideology who view any challenge of their view to be racist.   It’s time they grew up.  Saying that slavery wasn’t just a white on black issue is a fact.  It does not mean that white on white slavery was ever justified.   Facts don’t care about feelings.  

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