How Racism Works in the UK

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To explain White homogeneity and privilege in the UK, I will use a model of a playgroup – and compare two such theoretical examples – one in London, and the other in rural Devon. The information is general but indicative, and based upon my own observations and experiences.

Play Group A – Greater London

Ten women attend and bring one child each. The ethnic make-up is as follows:

  1. White British = 7
  2. Asian = 1
  3. African-Caribbean = 1
  4. Chinese = 1

The seven White British women instinctively form a group around what is assumed to be common cultural values, experiences and behaviours – which automatically ‘excludes’ at the point of contact, anyone who does not fit-in with this assumed group mentality. Non-White mothers and their children are viewed as problematic (particularly with regard to skin tone, clothing, language and habit), and although ‘allowed’ to exist in the same room for the duration of the gathering, it is clear that their presence is not wanted by the White group. As a consequence, the White children are pushed together, and form a central and dominant group that does not allow the non-White children to participate equally. When faced with this wall of cultural exclusion, the non-White mothers are ‘forced’ to form a group of their own for safety and security, well aware that neither they (nor their children) are considered ‘equal’ by the White majority mothers (the White mothers falsely view this behaviour as being a product of the non-White mothers not being willing to ‘mix’). The non-White mothers are also aware that the White children are being taught the racist attitudes of their White mothers. As London is multicultural in its general population, on any one occasion, it is not uncommon for two of the White mothers (of the original seven), to make an effort to approach the three non-White mothers and allow their White children to mix with the non-White children. This temporarily changes the power distribution of the group – effectively creating two groups of five mothers each – but even with this redistribution, it is clear that all the social power remains in the group of five White mothers. The power is always from the White toward the non-White group, and never from the non-White group to the White group – simply because the non-White do not possess any social power in the UK. As a consequence, the two White mothers who make the effort to approach the non-White mothers, possess the cultural power to ‘withdraw’ that inclusivity at any moment (and often do so due to peer=pressure from the White mothers, who view such inclusive behaviour as being ‘disloyal’ to White Britishness). The ‘multicultural’ aspect of living in London is that the presence of non-White in the social and cultural space is more or less ‘normalised’, but this does necessarily translate into ‘equality’. This multiculturalism also means that there are White people that fully embrace and participate in a diverse cultural experience, but that White homogeneity stays more or less intact and unchallenged.

Play Group B – Rural Devon

Ten women attend and bring one child each. The ethnic make-up is as follows:

  1. White British = 9
  2. Asian/Black/Chinese = 1

Although ethnic minorities exist in the UK’s rural areas, they are so excluded by the racist attitudes associated with White homogeneity (in non-multicultural areas), that they are kept from obvious view through an intense and relentless social and cultural pressure that is designed to make them ‘leave’ the area they have settled within. Rural areas such as Devon in the UK are renowned for their rightwing values and unquestioned racism. As ethnic populations are so few in these naturally aggressive and unwelcoming ‘White’ areas, those non-White people that do settle their are vulnerable to both passive and active racial attack. This reality is compounded by local policing policies that see racial attacks as being triggered by the behaviour of the non-White people themselves, and not the product of the ignorant racism residing within the minds of the White majority population. Obviously, a ‘playgroup’ in such areas reflects the social and cultural attitudes of the White majority population. A non-White mother living in such a racist area, will probably only attend such a meeting once, due to the complete ‘shut-out’ that the nine White mothers operate. This is because the White homogeneity is unquestioned and complete, and any and all non-White mothers are viewed as a ‘problem’ that should be removed through a policy of total ‘exclusion’. As only one non-White mother attends such meetings at a time (due to the low rate of ethnic minorities in the area), there can be no groups of security formed by non-White mothers. The White children learn a more or less complete racism from their mothers that does not include any aspect of multiculturalism. This lack of diversity in the rural playgroup is indicative of the society within which it was formed. In such a regressive and backward environment, non-White mothers (and their children) are not welcome and every legal and illegal method of exclusion is used to oust them from ‘White’ society. This is how racism operates in the UK.

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