MEDIA WATCH: Why Chris Trotter is so wrong – It’s time for working people who are white to stop identifying with our enemies


Chris Trotter has written blog after blog that carries a common refrain – it is wrong for the left to fight against racism or other forms of oppression because that will cause the majority of working people who are white to turn against the cause.

In these lectures he does a disservice to those of us who are white to be able to raise ourselves above identifying with people of a common skin colour who may be our employer or landlord and instead be able to identify with working people in our workplaces and unions who have a different skin colour.
This is exactly what happens in real life when we have the opportunity to join together in the struggle for better wages, social housing, universal access to healthcare and education.
The bosses who are usually white use that fact to encourage us to think of them as people who we should share a common bond with. When they are more successful in these endeavors – like in the US Southern states – all working people are worse off – white and black.
The same goes for looking at the history of New Zealand. Chris is worried there will be some massive backlash against Stuff’s admission that it’s stable of papers took the side of the colonialists, landlords, bankers and industrial capitalists against Maori. This is simply a truth that is being admitted. It doesn’t threaten the world view of those of us who are descendants of some other white settlers.
There is not a common historical narrative we all share and identify with. When Stuff admitted they often took the side of the establishment in a racist manner I have nothing to fear from that truth. My grandfather on my mother’s side was an Irish republican, socialist miner in Blackball who spoke fluent Maori. I’m pretty sure I know which side of the various narratives portrayed in bosses newspapers of the day he identified with. He probably didn’t read the bosses papers and instead read the Maoriland Worker published by the union movement and fledgling Labour Party which rejected racism and supported equal rights for Maori.
My grandfather imparted his values to my mother whose first posting when she graduated from training college as a primary teacher was two-years in Ruatahuna. The attempt to suppress the Maori language in the education system which she fought with a passion left a life-long impression on her that still made her angry later in life when others tried to deny the truth about “our” history.
The sooner working people can unite in common struggle to end exploitation and all forms of oppression the sooner humanity can win its liberation.


  1. I believe that instead of shoveling shame onto others which is deeply unattractive, that it’s better to cover thyself in glory.

    It’s weird everyone sits down in deep thought with only a second thought to dancing, art, music, sport, fashion and culture. These are just some of the things that out to be attractive.

  2. Was that a whole lot of virtue signaling? What our ancestors have done in this country is not in the least bit relevant. It is what we do that is important.
    There is only one struggle that matters
    The class struggle.

  3. “Chris Trotter has written blog after blog that carries a common refrain – it is wrong for the left to fight against racism or other forms of oppression because that will cause the majority of working people who are white to turn against the cause.”
    I think you mistake his arguments against the methods often employed in an attempt to fight against racism for argument against addressing racism. Not because he thinks racism should not be criticised but because he sees that the methods employed are often predictably counterproductive.
    I also think it is very wrong to depict “bosses” as having some interest in the subjugation and impoverishment of workers. Or that in the main in New Zealand that they are better off. Most employers are small businesses that are struggling to survive a year , and most employers accept a smaller personal income in the hopes of one day breaking through to profit than they pay their employees. In most cases that hope is vain.
    If you think it’s all beer and skittles employing people, why don’t you become an employer and show how it should be done?
    D J S

    • DJS Becoming an employer won’t fix systemic inequality. The very structure of the system is embedded with it. And ‘bosses’ are a class. Individuals within that class may be very well meaning but they will never overcome the systemic inequality they are part of. And most don’t want to. They have swallowed the ‘hard work’ lie that shores up the inequality they support. Not understanding what your function is in a system does not mean that function doesn’t exist. Every cog contributes.

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