racism

Racist themes are consistently prominent in Britain. Governmental denial of this is of no consequence to the reality faced by many ethnics across the United Kingdom. Even though Britain is one of the most multi-cultural locations in the world, racism and discrimination will always be a problem, and the bitter truth is that there is no true foreseeable sight for an end to this. Angst at ignorance and racial oppression are prevalent, and it appears that the need for Black or Asian activists and specialised reporting on racism are still relevant and persistent.

Interestingly however, the perspective of the ‘racists’ themselves never seems to be attempted to be understood. Plenty of us are quick to portray our anger and disgust at the ‘ignorance’ of ‘racists’ but perhaps it is necessary to consider their point of view. Anger seems to have done no justice and many racists are still proud to call themselves racists, so perhaps the problem must be penetrated through different approaches. On the social networking site twitter I came across a 17 year old EDL member, gaining mass amounts of negative attentions for his racial slurs and use of the term ‘blacks’. I had to admire his honesty, directness and charisma. He was daring enough to state that ‘I’m racist and so are most other people they’re just too scared to anything’ and that he would ‘happily put that on twitter’. He had no fear of the consequences of his words and although most people would simply brand him a ‘fool’, there may be a deeper issue that can be uncovered when witnessing these public displays of racism. Among the slander and indignant tweets such as ‘my blood is boiling’ I decided to follow the boy, private message him and compose my own interview of him.

In spite of me being a black second generation immigrant, the boy was very well mannered and answered every question with no hesitation or insult, simply politeness and honesty. He wasn’t a boy from a particularly sectioned off part of England, he lives in Essex which he claimed to also be a diverse multi-cultural county. During interview, rather than interrogation, he stated that although he has ‘black friends and family’ he ‘hates foreigners that come over here, take money from our government and don’t put anything back’. When I reminded him that there are plenty of foreigners that come into the country and pay taxes while doing some of the bottom end jobs, he immediately admitted that he was aware of this but that it appears to him that the vast majority don’t. Our conversation became interesting when I found that I wasn’t simply speaking to a British racist idle, but a boy that has formed his own opinion through plausible argument and experience. When I questioned him whether he is opposed to ‘gypsies’ that do not pay taxes or white benefit thieves he stated that he felt that this was just as disgusting. However, his argument was that this was more forgivable as firstly; gypsies had been in Britain before the tax system was developed, and secondly; British benefit thieves are stealing from their own government, not another countries. Perhaps there needs to be a new definition for this perspective. A ‘racist’ is defined as a person with a prejudiced belief that their own race is superior to another, a supremacist principle. However, the boy in question did not feel his race was above any others, but believed that foreigners draining money out of the British economy are ‘scum’ to society. Perhaps racism is the wrong term used and a new one is due to be coined up? It’s not easy for an ethnic to understand his point of view as he is simply lambasted as a ‘racist’ and many simply don’t care to attempt to reason with a racist to understand why he or she thinks this way.

Now the most curious point of our discourse came when I discovered something surprising. The boy in question was not born in England, but the United States. He had moved to the United Kingdom when he was 4 years old and apparently has British ancestry but would have had to gain citizenship by the same means as someone born in China, Malaysia, Ghana, Brazil or any other country. Since he himself was technically a foreigner, does this make his argument more justifiable and valid? Although his outward appearance would label him as a simply British racist, there is more to him than what the people who chose to scorn him could see. The boy was also clearly well-educated as he made intelligent references to Native Americans that don’t pay taxes in the United States, justifying by stating that the US society acknowledges that it was rightfully and originally their land. He believed that he was a shining example of what a foreigner should do if they wish to settle down in Britain. Get a job, contribute to the economy and not come to Britain attempting to amend the country to make it just like his or her country of origin. I had to agree with him.

The problem now must be isolated and penetrated because it more obscure than it seems, and a final answer is hard to truly identify, though the majority of us would simply declare ‘racism’. This boy, as humble and polite as he was, is an EDL member. Over the past two months, the EDL have been a distinguished menace to the British public with reports of public racially motivated attacks on Muslims and Ethnics. Yes, the fact that the EDL are angry about ‘immigrants taking our jobs and destroying our buildings, and taking lives’ is an obvious observance. This is dismissed as ‘ignorance’ and the ‘ignorant’ are not only left to be ‘ignorant’ without any education of racial themes, but their ‘ignorance’ appears to be fuelled by that old scandalous enterprise we call ‘the media’.

On the 22nd May 2013, soldier Lee Rigby was brutally murdered in a jihadist attack in Woolwich, by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale. The murder was shocking and barbaric, but what was most peculiar was the insistence in recognising the fact that these were attacks by Islamic extremists. There seemed to be an excitement towards discovering that the leading suspect Mr Adebolajo had Nigerian roots and increased involvement in Islamic extremist acts and organisations. The very private and unpublicised debate for many was the question of whether the original nationality, skin colour or religion of the suspect should have been relevant. Although it may be stated as important to bring attention to the fact that there are problems with Islamic extremists, many British citizens who see this example portrayed on the news will immediately and understandably stereotype out of sheer anger, not ignorance.

Often the portrayal of other ethnicities and foreign religions seems to be most public when there is some negative occurrence. If a white man attacks another white man there is no report of a ‘white man’, but if a black man attacks another white man then the speed of a full scale investigation of the black man’s ancestry and immigration roots is simply bewildering. There are arguably double standards here. When Stephen Lawrence was murdered in April of 1993, the eventually emerging newspaper reports stated that this was a racially motivated attack by racists, identifying the colours and brutality of white people. However, Britain is still a white society, no matter how multi-cultural it is and this is something we need to identify. When reports emerge of an ethnic portraying violence against a white Briton, there is anger from organisations such as the EDL who believe that ethnics are poisoning and destroying British society, where as if a Briton performs this on a second generation immigrant, in spite of their British citizenship, it is an atrocious racist act but it is not something that would be publicised falteringly as Britons don’t want to see other Britons disgracing our country. So therefore in the case of Stephen Lawrence, investigation was despicably slow due to a country that isn’t willing to accept criminal activity from true Britons themselves and a mentality that wishes to eschew connoting British people with anything that is vile or wicked. It’s not only in extremist instances that this is a case. Let’s make a wild personal observance here. If Andy Murray wins a Grand Slam title he is praised as a ‘British’ hero, but if he is to fail he is regarded as a ‘scot’ in order to disassociate him with parts of Britain as best as possible. My overall point is that race, religion and background appears to be used as a British scapegoat, to channel the most negative situations into any other source in order to not bring British society into disrepute.

It is difficult to comprehend the need for compromise in the media when regarding racial themes and topics. Should we draw attention to the fact that attacks are racially or religiously motivated or should this be eschewed? It seems that identifying attacks from ethnics has led to anger and increasing support from organisations such as the EDL and the BNP, and there may be a need for newspapers and media to be careful when representing races as there are many damaging consequences, such as the emergence of extremist groups and the perpetuating struggle in civil compromise. As for the boy I had interviewed, I know that in spite of his racist views his stereotyping is simply a display of the fact that he is fed the knowledge that immigrants are stealing from the government. If it’s constantly shown on the television or in every newspaper, can we really blame these people for developing a resentment towards immigrants?

BY: Jason Okundaye