The spread of Anti-Nazi League’s lapel badges helped promote a cultural shift, says Giles Oakley, while Chris Hughes questions the usefulness of the term ‘fighting racism’
Christopher Eccleston is absolutely right that the Anti-Nazi League “changed lives and minds” (Letters, 17 August), and one of the ways it did it was through those familiar yellow, red and black lapel badges, along with those of Rock Against Racism. I was working in BBC Education in the late 1970s and early 80s, and it was remarkable to see the mushroom spread of ANL badges and many others among BBC staff at that time, mainly among younger producers and directors.
The use of badges with amusing slogans, such as “Gay Whales Against Racism”, promoted radical and “subversive” ideas in ways that were hard for senior management to object to. How could our bosses speak up in favour of racism? These badges thus helped effect an enormous cultural shift, especially in relation to feminism, which was popularised through badges such as the immortal “Don’t Do It Di” badge at the time of the royal wedding in 1981, which was worn by both men and women.
East Sheen, London