Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Racism and Pseudo-Islamophobia

Two unrelated news items I came across during the last few days. First of all, in Glasgow, since two slightly inept medical doctors crashed a four wheel drive into a glass door at Glasgow's International Airport, the police reports some 25 or so physical attacks on people perceived to be Muslim. This included even an attack on a local news agent (someone without medical degree crashed a car into the news agents' corner shop and managed to burn it to the ground). So, while this mindless kind of activity goes probably best under the label of Islamophobia, it's actually worse than that, because its victims were picked on based on their looks (you can't really deduce someone's religious persuasion from their ethnicity or even their beards). So, in a way, old-fashioned racism seems to have found a new outlet. Here's an intelligent take on this particular issue and the Scottish political ruling class' response to this issue.

Then, a report was published about Africa-Caribbean's living in London. Those interviewed suggested that racism in the capital had got quite a bit worse than it was just a few years ago. Here's an excerpt with some of the figures form the report, taken from The Guardian website:

'Of the 600 people questioned, 94% said there is continuing racism in the UK today, and the feeling was most acute among those of Caribbean backgrounds, 96% of whom felt advances have not gone far enough. More than a third felt that racism in the UK today is actually worse than three or four years ago - a galling statistic when one considers that most live in London, whose diversity helped win it the right to stage the 2012 Olympics - and 60% said black people fare worse than other racial minorities.Those questioned bemoaned their failure to be promoted at work and the effects of institutional racism, with 80% citing inequalities in the criminal-justice system. It's pretty gloomy stuff.'

This is significant for two reasons: one obviously is that life in a mega city such as London should be less difficult for Black people then, say Yorkshire's country side. There's plenty of other Black people, there are also plenty of support programmes, and, generally speaking, big city folks tend to be more open-minded than country town folks. This is, of course, an unacceptably broad generalisation, but no doubt, there's some truth in this. The other reason for why this survey is significant, because it suggests that despite historically unprecedented resources for programmes assisting minority ethnic folks, life hasn't got much better for far too many.

On the other hand, it should not surprise too much, that in a society where after more than 10 years of New Labour the gap between rich and poor has grown ever wider, ethnic minority people (at least of Afro-Caribbean descent) have not done particularly well.

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