A FEW years ago, Benedict Cumberbatch was “devastated” after using the word coloured when talking about black actors. He apologised for being an idiot, showing awareness of the “damage” he had done. Last week English FA boss and FIFA vice president, Greg Clarke, was forced to resign having used the same word, coloured, rather than “people of colour”.

In 2015, when Cumberbatch misspoke, he was promoting the need for greater diversity of actors in the UK. Clarke, similarly, was arguing against all forms of discrimination when he used this incorrect word.

England manager Gareth Southgate explained that Clarke, who had been chairman of the Football League between 2010 and 2016, had no alternative but to go.

Southgate went on to explain that we need to “educate ourselves”, although he didn’t spell out what this meant. In particular he noted that this self-education had become particularly apparent in the last six months. Some new insight has been discovered very recently, it seems, that Gareth, but not Greg, is now aware about.

He went on to conclude that, as an organisation, the FA, has to, "make change”. Again, what this change is was not clear, although he did mention a diversity code.

I suspect, at least in part, the education Southgate feels we all need, relates to the idea of symbolic violence, a form of violence defined by French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu as relating to non-physical violence expressed through the difference in power between certain groups. This is a power understood to express itself through our use of language.

What’s interesting about this idea is that if racism is part of a power game in society and part of the elite’s armoury to maintain their dominance over society, why were Cumberbatch and Clarke arguing against racism and why have they been so roundly condemned for their choice of words?

Judging from the level of condemnation of both men, and especially the older and less cool Clarke who has now been ostracised from the world of football, would it not be more accurate to describe the diversity code, rather than racism, as a form of symbolic violence? Something that expresses the outlook and power of the new elite.

Perhaps Southgate could send us all his diversity code and a self-education manual so that we too can learn how to take the knee and avoid the shaming and job loss associated with our lack of “awareness”.

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