The other day a friend discovered that his favourite YouTube chess channel had been blocked for violating “community standards”. The Croatian creator of “agadmator’s Chess Channel”, which has about 700,000 subscribers, was also puzzled. It turns out that a YouTube algorithm for detecting racist videos had zeroed in on his obsession with “white” and “black”. When he appealed, the appeal was denied, apparently by an appeal algorithm.

DO NOT LAUGH. This is serious.

For anyone with the slightest bit of grey matter between his or her ears, it’s obvious that chess reifies and reinforces a racist power structure. Doesn’t white always move first? And isn’t chess commentary overflowing with the language of white privilege like, “white dominates the board”, “white checkmates black”, or “the white queen puts black in an inferior position”?

If you can’t see that, perhaps you need some counselling.

Chess is not the only social reality which reflects systemic racism. Twitter influencer Titania McGrath* has helpfully compiled a list of racist realities from recent media reports. We have selected a few from her list and added some of our own. Click on the links to get the full story.

Golf

We’ve Lived with ‘The Masters’ Name Long Enough: And be honest. When you hear anyone say the Masters, you think of slave masters in the South. There’s nothing else, nothing special. You don’t think of someone mastering the game of golf. When has anyone mastered golf?

Bedrooms

From ‘master bedroom’ to ‘blacklist’: What will it take to change racist terms in our everyday language? Among some of the more explicit racist terms are “master bedroom,” which can evoke the imagery of master-slave relations on plantations.

The Order of St Michael and St George

Calls for redesign of royal honour over ‘offensive’ image. Petition says image of St Michael standing on Satan is reminiscent of George Floyd killing

Milk

Why Cow’s Milk Is the Perfect Drink for Supremacists

Applause

Clapping banned at Oxford University and replaced with jazz hands

Trying not to be racist

Sorry white people, but trying too hard not to be racist is low-key kind of racist

Western philosophy  

Western philosophy is racist: Academic philosophy in ‘the West’ ignores and disdains the thought traditions of China, India and Africa. This must change

Nurses

UK nurses’ COVID-19 haka slammed as cultural appropriation

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches

Peanut Butter And Jelly Racist? Portland School Principal Ties Sandwich To White Privilege. “What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?”

Mathematics

Is math racist? New course outlines prompt conversations about identity, race in Seattle classrooms

Hiking

The Unbearable Whiteness of Hiking and How to Solve It.  “But it’s … tragic that throughout American history, ethnic minorities have so often been underrepresented or intentionally excluded from the outdoors.”

Climate change

People of Color Experience Climate Grief More Deeply Than White People. “Research has bolstered the idea that white supremacy has led to the climate crisis.”

Biological sex

What the white supremacist roots of biological sex reveal about transphobic feminism. “Transphobia is tethered to the malign structures of white supremacy.”

Knitting

Racism in the knitting community is finally being talked about. “The popular look was to focus on the knitting, not the person doing the knitting, which made it easier to forget what that person looked like. And sometimes, when followers were reminded, they showed their prejudice.”

Cycling

The unbearable whiteness of cycling. “Until the dynamics of ‘race’, racism and whiteness in cycling are more fully understood, the sport will continue to be dominated by white, middle-aged men.

Abolishing slavery  

UW students petition to remove Abraham Lincoln statue on Bascom Hill. “I just think he did, you know, some good things … the bad things that he’s done definitely outweighs them. And I do want the 100% removal of the statue. I don’t want it to be moved somewhere or anything like that. I want it removed.”

The suffragette movement

The uncomfortable truth about racism and the suffragettes  

Traffic lights

The Unintentional Racism Found in Traffic Signals. “How is it possible that well into the 21st century, parents all over Manhattan — well-meaning, #BLM-marching parents — are teaching their children to ask ‘little White men’ for permission to cross the street? And why doesn’t this seem to bother them?”

Earthquakes

NAACP links earthquake signs in Oregon to white supremacy

Classical music

Is Classical Music Racist?

Libraries

‘Library collections … proliferate whiteness with their very existence’: Library Journal tweet promotes ‘feminist’ librarian’s perspective

Dogs

Can Dogs be Racist? The Colonial Legacies of Racialized Dogs in Kenya and Zambia

Tipping

The Racist, Twisted History of Tipping

Veganism

Why so many white supremacists are into veganism. From Hitler to present-day national socialists with YouTube cooking channels, the far right’s anti-meat ideology runs surprisingly deep.

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens was a genius, but like many of his time undoubtedly very racist

White Cliffs of Dover

Call to rename the White Cliffs of Dover after Black Lives Matter is criticised as ‘moronic’ and detrimental to fight against racism. “The fact that these cliffs are called ‘white’ stands as a racially-insensitive reminder of white privilege and white dominance in a country where many people are Black or Minority Ethnic. Why should marginalized people have to utter the name of the race that oppresses them in order to refer to a geological feature?”

Rock music 

From Elvis Presley to Patti Smith and The Stones, rock music is built on racism: why don’t we care?

Thomas the Tank Engine

Thomas the Imperialist Tank Engine. “The not-so-hidden subtexts of the popular children’s show… something about Thomas and Friends gives liberal parents the creeps.”

Robots

Robot racism? Yes, says a study showing humans’ biases extend to robots

Environmental activism

Why I Quit Being a Climate Activist. The climate movement is overwhelmingly white. So I walked away.


A good number of these complaints of implicit racism have at least a grain of truth in them. White hikers should invite friends who are people of colour to experience the great outdoors with them. Abraham Lincoln said some embarrassingly racist things. Weird white supremacists use milk as a symbol of defiance. Old prejudices should be acknowledged; contemporary ones should be corrected.

The problem with analysing everything in terms of racism is that it excludes every other angle. But human dignity is far more complex than the colour of one’s skin. Here at MercatorNet we would argue that the fundamental determinant of success or failure in life is family structure. The gobbledygood of critical race theory ignores this almost completely.

 *Titania McGrath is an “Activist, Healer and Radical intersectionalist poet” who lives on Twitter. She is the alter ego of Andrew Doyle, a British comedian, who uses her hilarious tweets to satirize woke folk.  The links, however, are all too real.

Michael Cook

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet