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Daniella MaisonEditor of Social Cause Issues

‘She comes before you with a solemn heart, shorn of secrets, naked before the eyes of gods and men, to make her walk of atonement’. The High Sparrow to The People of King's Landing

As 2022 draws to a close the headlines have been ablaze with Grumpy Old Man, Jeremy Clarkson’s, latest infraction. Such is my general disinterest in all things monarchy that I almost missed the furore completely until my cousin messaged me alerting me to Clarkson’s article and asking me to address it in my column, writing ‘I’ve been trying to find the words that sum up my thoughts, but I am actually speechless...’.

Daniella Maison

My finger is rarely on the pulse of Harry and Meghan’s latest shenanigans and so I was reluctant, but on reading the article my reluctance was quickly replaced with concern on several levels. Most concerning was that Jeremy’s vitriolic rant revealed that he lies awake at night "dreaming of the day when Meghan is made to parade naked through the streets of every town in Britain while crowds chant, 'Shame!' and throw lumps of excrement at her".

Lying awake at night fancying himself an observer to violence inflicted upon a woman young enough to be his daughter screams multiple layers of misogyny, derangement (and possibly even obsession) but what stood out to me most was the dark shadow of the colonialist echo and blatant racism in the many layers of Clarkson’s Shangri-la.

A vague apology was issued that began with the distinctly unremorseful words ‘Oh dear. I seem to have put my foot in it again’ and ended with a weak defence that his fantasy was merely a Game of Thrones reference.

Allow me for a moment to look at this more acutely.

Firstly, the Walk of Atonement referenced in Game of Thrones was directly based upon a real-life practice in Medieval France where adultery was punishable by a naked walk of atonement.

A 13th-century French statute in the Costuma d’Agen, listed public humiliation as the appropriate punishment for adultery.

The point was to destroy their reputation via public humiliation.

The standing of individuals before the law was often based on their reputations, or the Latin concept of Fama, what others thought of them and how they behaved in public. The woman was always the centre of the reprimand. 

Clarkson’s own ancestors had some similar brutally misogynistic practices. England is peppered with Ducking Stool relics that were once used to strap women with irons to a wooden chair, where they were held high above the crowd and demeaned before being ducked under the water to the point of near suffocation.

Her crime was simple: She was a common scold, accused of talking too much. Perhaps, in the mind of Clarkson, talking too much this is the reprehensible offence that Meghan committed in her reality documentary. 

The excrement hurling element of his mind-trip wasn’t a part of either tradition.

Unfortunately, the repercussion of abuse by hysterical overstatement is not the sole phenomenon in Clarkson’s vernacular of Meghan-hatred.

Like most misogynists, in order for him to express his hatred absolutely, he must also express his need to defile and pulverize the woman he despises so much.

The closest inspiration for Clarkson’s sadistic excrement reverie, is one that was historically reserved for criminals condemned for death in England and on their way to the gallows to be hung.

Thousands would gather to see the spectacle of a hanging. According to Clarkson, the many thousands of people in England his own age would still congregate for such an event, so long as the offender was Meghan.

The crowds threw food, jeered, and threw excrement, such was the Western entertainment of the time.

The fact that excrement throwing took place predominantly at hangings, is a particularly troubling insight into the murky mindset of Clarkson, and the peers he claims to speak for, given Just how many black women were once lynched and left hanging for little more than being melanated.

Once upon a time in the West, Black men and women weren’t typically executed for real crimes. They were often lynched for doing things they weren’t supposed to do such as opening their mouths in some way that was deemed above their station, trying to earn a living, pushing back against the system, or not knowing their place. Doesn’t Meghan tick every box?

This leads me to the second layer of Clarkson’s tirade and that is the issue of disproportionate punishment for Black and brown females. “I hate her,” Clarkson wrote. “Not like I hate Nicola Sturgeon or Rose West. I hate her on a cellular level.”

Discipline disparities between Black and white boys have driven reform efforts for years, but Black girls are arguably the most at-risk student group in the U.K mostly due to latent racism.

Implementing a framework of historical intersectionality to provide an overview of the cultural, socioeconomic, and legal infrastructures as they relate to the punishment of Black girls is a scary business.

Modern research illustrates how the ancient cultural presumption of guilt of Black people has shaped the creation of deviant Black female identities, and subsequent punishment, that have been legally sanctioned and consistently perpetuated.

They reign supreme in the British education system; hence Black and brown girls are twice as likely to be to be excluded from school as their white counterparts.

Schools unfairly punish black children for anything from their hairstyles to their facial expressions ultimately because educators perceive Black children to be ‘fundamentally disruptive, hopeless and inferior’ regardless of what they do.

Those of us who attend school here quickly learn that the toll is higher for lesser offences.

Sympathy is less, judgement is more.

At every turn in my education my mother was forced to fight for me to be understood by my teachers on a regular basis; in extreme cases of overt racism, she’d call in the ‘big guns’ (my father) and they’d battle for me together.

When my grammar school headteacher broke the news to me that my sister had died suddenly, she patted me aloofly on my shoulder; before marching over to my friend and embracing her tenderly as I looked on.

That’s just one of many examples I could cite.

In the vast compendium of shameful deeds committed by the royal family; among them a series of shameful accusations concerning Prince Andrew of York (after he found himself in the middle of a serious sex scandal involving a 17-year-old girl); in the mind of Clarkson, only Meghan deserves to be heartlessly castigated.

What could possibly warrant such violence?

This question is relevant because in his buffoonish brain Meghan deserves to be flogged naked and Rose West doesn’t. Clarkson hates Meghan more so than Rose West. In his mind, she is deserving of a punishment far greater. Disproportionate punishment.

Rose West and her husband tortured, raped, and murdered an unknown number of girls and women over a 20-year period. Rose was convicted of 10 murders in November 1995 and is serving a life sentence. Yet Clarkson believes that Meghan is deserving of nude public humiliation for being, at worst, a tad on the irritating side, and (for Royalists) somewhat of a disrupter. Rose West committed such unspeakable and torturous crimes upon women and children that I lack the stomach to detail them in this column.

Even if we were to run with Clarkson’s insistence that his imagining is based upon a GOT scene; the character of Cersei Lannister is known as arguably the franchises most evil character. Her walk of atonement was punishment for adultery, incest, and regicide… not a Netflix documentary. Dig It?

Despite such incredulously vast disparities, he hates Meghan right down to the very the smallest units that make up all the living organisms and the tissues of her body.

Let’s unpeel the third layer. I am never quick to label anyone a racist but let’s remember that we are dealing with a man who has made over ten racial slurs on national television alone.

Most telling of all was when Top Gear filmed the presenter choosing between two cars, where Clarkson used the nursery rhyme “Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe” to make the decision. In the footage, not used on the show but discovered and reported by the tabloid the Daily Mirror, Clarkson mumbles the N word while reciting the rhyme. This is just one of his many Google-able gaffes.

When all was ready the slaves were rowed ashore and paraded through the island in a piteous straggling procession before being taken to the market-place where they were put on show naked

Why does a white male dream of seeing a naked brown woman paraded before the masses, if not for the colonial echo and its racist heart? The harrowing part about the travesty of slavery that lies in our genetic memory is that female slaves were stripped naked; in the process of being a commodity, stripping them of their dignity.

‘I believe this to be a hate crime because it incites violence towards another person.
I believe an average person can say less and get reprimanded by the police and he should be no different.
I genuinely believe that he has given the license to the many men who are like him, to make his fantasy a reality. And as a result, women, particularly women of colour, are at risk of real harm. 
I believe he gives a license to all who bully online to continue to do so even when we know this leads to suicide…and that Meghan herself considered suicide over her treatment makes it worse. 
The level of hate in his post is deep-rooted, for someone he has never met.
Imagine hating someone you have never met to a cellular level, all because she is mixed race, married into the Royal family, and in his eyes, should be forever grateful? He thought it, then wrote it, then didn’t even sincerely apologise for it. That is how confident he is… and that is dangerous!’
Ramona Williams

The Sun is hardly irreproachable.

Sure, they removed the article after receiving more complaints than a bar joke at a funeral, but let’s not get it twisted. The Sun chooses columnists such as Clarkson (who was given the post after his catalogue of racist faux pas on Top Gear), Katie Hopkins and Nigel Farage because they fit in to their agenda. Because they perpetuate the views of racist Britain. Back in 2021, Clarkson detailed his fears that his outspoken nature could cost him his job as a columnist. It hasn’t.

Katie Hopkins’ own infamous column in The Sun, when she likened refugees to “cockroaches” and sparked a blistering response from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Thankfully it is testimony to the modern era that Clarkson’s denunciation broke Watchdog records.

Yes, Clarkson garnered over 12,000 complaints, but it won’t succeed in altering his world view or those who idolise him. He is in so many ways a poster child for the vitriol that is sewn into the patriarchal tapestry of England, the very same one that Meghan Duchess of Sussex’s brazen presence in the Royal family defies.

As black women, we are still fighting the legacy of the stereotypes it left in Colonialisms wake. What men like Clarkson refuse to acknowledge is that the Black woman has been the most objectified, sexualized and debased in western society.

Clarkson’s diatribe isn’t just offensive, it’s traumatic.

Here’s hoping that 2023 will reveal some much welcome change, and a goodbye to Jeremy Clarkson’s column.

Black Wall St. MediaContributor

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