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what causes racial tension and what could be done to ease it?????

(67 Posts)
law3 Tue 11-Sep-07 11:22:36

I have started this thread because i feel it is an important subject. Please dont leave examples of how you/someone else have been discrimated against as this is counter productive. Just an honest and open debate please.

policywonk Tue 11-Sep-07 11:37:32

Well, I'd say that a lot of racism (especially anti-immigrant feeling) tends to be associated with the white working classes (this is not to say that racism is an exclusively white phenomenon, but in a majority white country, white racism is necessarily the most destructive kind). I think it has a lot to do with there being a genuine underclass in this country - badly educated people (with access only to dreadful schools) living in rundown housing; several generations within families living on benefits and with no realistic hope of fulfilling work (or even any paid work at all).

As a good little socialist, I'd say that the underclass is a result of the Thatcherite social and economic policies that have been pursued by UK governments for the last 30 years. If people could be persuaded to elect a government that would actually start to close the gap between the richest and the poorest in this country (rather than looking on benevolently as the gap widens) and address some of these ingrained social problems, I believe that the resentment and frustration that can result in racism in these circumstances might be reduced.

policywonk Tue 11-Sep-07 11:37:58

Do I win a prize for pomposity? grin

evenhope Tue 11-Sep-07 11:41:32

One of the contributory factors has got to be large numbers of one particular ethnic group moving into an area over a short space of time, particularly if they keep themselves separate from the locals. Integration would ease the worry.

law3 Tue 11-Sep-07 11:53:26

policy - no prizes im afriad!!

Do you feel group conflict caused by competition, fear of not enough housing, jobs, ecomony etc, etc is realistic.

law3 Tue 11-Sep-07 12:05:58

evenhope - intergration, i agree but how do you feel ethnic groups could be helped to do that, bearing in mind they are new to the country, may not be able to speak English, etc, etc.

BarefootDancer Tue 11-Sep-07 12:11:04

To pop in an opinion from another recent thread....
Integration of children and families can be helped by the schools. The current government support for faith schools runs counter to this. Separating children by faith only leads to division and distance.

However, I think UK society is less racist now than 30 years ago. As a result of the increasing multiculturalism. And that must be good. Or perhaps I am being naive?

law3 Tue 11-Sep-07 12:17:32

Bare - Do schools help parents as well as the children??

GrumpyOldHorsewoman Tue 11-Sep-07 12:19:16

The Tabloid press have rather alot to answer for.

And better education wouldn't hurt.

It's a hard one, though, because racism, I fear, is inherent in large sections of society, ingrained over generations.

law3 Tue 11-Sep-07 12:45:10

Tbh im here to learn, i never considered myself at all racist, but after a recent thread i am in doubt, perhaps i have been and not realised. (shock, horror face, i may be wrong)

Explaintation - up until this point my view was there should be tighter immigratation, i dont think anyone should be stopped from coming to this Country, but if they are not prepared to support themselves, commit crime etc and not contribute to society, then should not be allowed to stay. I rationalised this because it is not based on anyones colour but my fear for my children's future and the drain on the ecomony. I know that lots of British people are already a drain, but saw it as added pressure.

Never too old to learn blush

speedymama Tue 11-Sep-07 14:07:14

Racism is caused by ignorance.

Evenhope, the ever growing white British contingency in Spain don't even try to integrate with the locals. However, I can't imagine they are treated in the same disdainful and disrespectful way that immigrants to this country are treated.

In fact, I imagine that they carp on about the locals not being able to speak English!

law3 Tue 11-Sep-07 14:10:25

speedy - so what do you suggest we do about it? How do we help people to intergrate in this country?

law3 Tue 11-Sep-07 14:16:58

speedy - Ignorance is not the CAUSE of racism. Ignorance is lack of eductation or being ill informed.

Dinosaur Tue 11-Sep-07 14:22:17

Some good stuff here

evenhope Tue 11-Sep-07 14:30:20

speedymama, I think you'll find they are...

It is just as bad when the Brits emigrate and stick to ex-pat communities, I agree. My feeling is that if you decide to move to another country then it is your responsibility- not the governments, not the locals, not anyone else's- to make sure you learn the languauge and integrate yourself into the community. If you aren't prepared to do that then don't move. That goes for white (black, green or orange) Brits moving to France, Spain or wherever just as much as any other racial group moving anywhere else.

SofiaAmes Tue 11-Sep-07 14:32:35

Get rid of your religion based schools. I moved my family back to america because I could not find a place for myself (an atheist) in your schol system. I was amazed by how little people knew about other cultures and ways of life when I lived in the uk. And that was in an office of professional educated people who should know better. I was the first Jewish person (I'm a jew by descent, not by belief) many of my colleagues had met. There was a pakistani muslim girl in our office and it amazed me how little the others knew about her culture and faith. The more people mix from a very young age, the less others will look and feel different to them. Here in the usa, my dd has just started school and is in a class room with kids from all over the world. She is the only white girl in her class, and she hasn't even noticed because she has been in an environment that is mixed racially and socioeconomically since she was a baby. I think that this will help her grow up to be an adult who is tolerant and understanding of other cultures and ways of doing things.

UnquietDad Tue 11-Sep-07 14:32:39

There was a very interesting discussion a while back on Radio 2 between Billy Bragg and Rod Liddle... no, no, come back. Really.

Billy recounted the conversation he'd had with his taxi driver, who'd said, when dropping him off in his nice Dorset village, words to the effect of "at least you ain't got any of that lot round ere, Guv'nor." Billy of course then gave him the full "actually some of my best friends are Asians" spiel.

I think Billy's usually a very genuine bloke so don't mean to sound critical. But Liddle pointed out that it is a lot easier for middle-class hand-wringers living in mainly white, affluent rural areas to be "tolerant" and forward-thinking when it comes to racial integration. It's harder when you live in a tightly-knit urban community which has, over the last 20 years, changed out of all recognition. (This is the argument that my - quite racist - parents use. They grew up during the war and have seen British society change until "it's no longer the country we grew up in". You can argue with that until you're blue in the face - and I have done - but ultimately the country has changed, and if that is going to scare them then there is not an awful lot our generation can do about it.)

Yes, we say that people in such communities should be grateful and should welcome the influx of different cultures and lovely ethnic shops and the range of culinary delights available. And to a certain extent that's true. But I wonder how many of us do so from suburban semis in areas which are 99% white, knowing that the only black and Asian people we are going to mix with on a daily basis are the nice chap who runs the shop and that lovely couple on the corner who are a doctor and a teacher?...

mytwopenceworth Tue 11-Sep-07 14:42:50

I dunno - a few thoughts...

Ignorance. Being ignorant - having a lack of knowledge......Lack of knowledge about other races, cultures, nations, about economics, migration, history.....

Anger and dissatisfaction with own life, frustration. looking for someone to blame - look for someone different from yourself, to point and say "it's their fault, not mine".

Seeking reassurance of your 'rightness' by seeing 'wrongness' in another.

Low self esteem..wanting to hurt someone else to make yourself feel powerful. Wanting to feel 'better than' someone or some other group. To feel elevated.

Parental example - growing up with racist parents and accepting that as normal and right.

Out and out thuggary with race being the identifier of choice (iyswim), but not the issue, thug could just as easily hate people under 5ft tall and behave the same way.

There's no one answer. People can be shits for all sorts of reasons.

law3 Tue 11-Sep-07 14:43:02

even - its ok saying its your responsibility to learn the language etc, etc, but thats not happening and its causing a divide. And the divide causes racism.

How about instead of the government spending money on translating leaflets etc into foreign languages, they use the money they save for language lessons?

speedymama Tue 11-Sep-07 14:46:13


Educated, well-informed people can be just as racist as the uneducated and uninformed.

The leader of the BNP is educated (public school and Cambridge university), well-informed and very articulated. He also happens to hate anybody who is not like him!

law3 Tue 11-Sep-07 14:52:14

speedy - couldnt agree more, thought i had already agreed that ignornance doesnt cause racism!!!!!

potoroo Tue 11-Sep-07 15:02:55

I suspect it is as much to do with culture as well as colour. Aussies and Kiwis for example find it much easier to 'fit in', not just because we speak the same language, but the culture is very similar.

I also agree with UD's point - we live in a predominantly white, middle class country town so its unlikely anyone would feel threatened by the few non-white people.

I think that immigration and racism get mixed up together too.

There is an assumption by many people that it is easy for to come into the UK. Unless you are an EU citizen, you do have to prove you are able to support yourself. You can either get a work permit sponsored by a company (who first has to advertise the position in the UK to prove it can't be filled here) or sponsor yourself - I think you need to prove you earn £40k+, have a degree and a few other things. If you come in on this scheme you can't claim benefits for about 4 years.

Interestingly, I found two things that helped me integrate into British society -
1. Working - because I met people and made friends
2. Having children - for the same reason - joined toddler groups, NCT etc

I think integration is a hard one though, because you simply don't know what is on offer locally - you don't know how to meet people, what the customs necessarily are. Especially if you are not working. So if there is a community in your local area that are of the same cultural background, you are naturally going to gravitate towards them.

law3 Tue 11-Sep-07 15:03:39

unquietdad - so do you feel that racism is higher amoung the working classes?

Do you feel that this conflict is reaslistic, not enough housing, jobs etc, etc?

Any suggestions on what to do about it?

mytwopenceworth Tue 11-Sep-07 15:03:46

Well, must disagree. I think sometimes people can be racist because they are ignorant - and have ill-informed beliefs that cause them to feel a particular way about a group of people.

UnquietDad Tue 11-Sep-07 15:07:05

Maybe overt in-yer-face racism is. I don't know. I'm sure plenty of middle-class people are racist but express their views behind net curtains and at dinner-paries.

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