Oh lord! This is a Laurence Fox question, isn’t it?
If it is, it would probably be best to strip Fox out of it since I agree with that Foals’ singer who recently called him a “top drawer fucking idiot”. When asked which side of the Fox/Lily Allen argument I fall, I also reply it’s possible to despise both of them equally.
Yet I also agree with the university lecturer on Question Time who was attacked for simply pointing out that Fox is a “white, privileged male”. It baffles me how that can even be doubted. Fox is a compound of nearly every kind of privilege: white, born in a wealthy acting dynasty, Harrow educated, RADA trained… The very fact he was on QT in the first place demonstrates how people in certain walks of life have a much lower barrier to entry than the rest of us. Have you heard his music? Do you think many bands get the chances on TV that he’s had with such an absence of talent?
But back to your question: should white men discuss racism? Not sure it’s counter-intuitive but it’s often oversimplified. White UK men are of course free to discuss it and they should since it’s a debate to be encouraged. I just wish they would approach it with a little humility. They should recognise that if you're part of dominant ethnicity you probably won’t have encountered racism to the degree experienced by those in a minority. That said, I doubt the motives of many who make these arguments. I have no doubt that Fox was playing that equivalency game that many on the right play. They hate identity politics so much it begins to melt their brains. Moreover, I think Fox was there as bait, so egregious is his lack of self-awareness that his screaming about victimhood is certain to make people froth at the mouth. It's simple gaslighting, meant to get us confused, thinking up is down and right is left.
It’s certainly fatuous when he claimed that being described as a “white, privileged male” amounted to racism when it was clearly at attempt to explain why his view as the UK as a “tolerant” nation might only be true when viewed through his eyes. And that’s really what this is about: one section of society telling another what they should think, usually in defence of the status quo. (And, it’s worth noting, those people wishing to defend the status quo -- which isn’t itself an irrational position -- aren’t helped by people like Fox who play binary politics.)
Now, of course, some of this is contextual. It might be perfectly reasonable for a white traveller to Japan to talk about racism from the victim’s point of view since there’s a whole debate about how gaijin are treated. The same is true about the white minority in South Africa. The same might eventually be true of America.
It also needn’t be about race. I’ve often had people telling me that “class” doesn’t exist in the UK, but those people are always, in my experience, privileged. Ditto people who speak received pronunciation having lived all their lives in London telling me that I’m wrong to argue that regional accents aren’t prejudiced against. Ditto any Conservative minister living in a stately home (cough, IDS) telling disabled people how it’s in their best interests to take a benefit cut because it will encourage them to get a job.
This is a universal problem with people and the answer is simple: don’t be so arrogant as to insist that your subjectivity represents some absolute objective truth. But that, I suppose, is the history of our species, where there’s a constant struggle between progressive and reactionary forces, with most of us caught in the middle, striving to find a reasonable balance.