Urban Life: Racial Violence, Aimed at Destroying Love, Defines Britishness as We Know It

Article excerpt

I will remember 2005 as the year in which we were force-fed the virtues of Britishness--fair play, democracy and generosity of spirit. Those of us who form the new communities were expected to shed our past and don the garments of this marvellous civilisation, in order to be wholly accepted. The black and brown elite joined in, demonising the places where we live as ghettos in which we seek to recreate rural Pakistan and the backwardness of the Caribbean. Yet our chief experiences during this past year undermine every word of such propaganda.

In the last minutes of 2005 I sat in my local pub in Brixton, the Angel, on Coldharbour Lane, as we mulled over one horrible moment of the year. A young man, Anthony Walker, with his girlfriend and cousin, had walked along the streets of Huyton in Merseyside. The black man with his white girlfriend so incensed two white working-class boys that one of them left an ice pick embedded in his brain. We recalled that in the early days those of us who had white girlfriends, yours truly included, had to walk behind while the girlfriend proceeded several paces in front to avoid savage beatings from white men. …