Magazine article The Spectator

The New Racism

Magazine article The Spectator

The New Racism

Article excerpt

THE BIGGEST survey (done once every ten years) of race in Britain - by the Leftish think-tank the Policy Studies Institute, published last week at a cost of 1 million - has found that 250,000 Britons are victims of racial harassment each year. The racial harassment in question is by white Britons of non-white Britons.

The PSI and others in the race relations industry are always telling us about white racism. But what of the racism of the three million black and brown Britons? On this, silence.

Or almost. But in February a survey by the Institute for Public Policy Research (the New Labourish think-tank chaired by the Labour peer Baroness Blackstone) made some disturbing discoveries -- disturbing, that is, in leftish circles. This is because it touched on nonwhite racial prejudice for, said the Institute, the very first time. It polled non-white Britons about what in thinktank circles is called `interethnic' marriage and in common parlance `marrying out' - a key test of how racist people are.

Asked if they would `mind a lot' if a close relative were to marry an Afro-Caribbean, 32 per cent of Asians and 29 per cent of Jews said they would -- compared to just 13 per cent of whites. (Whether the Jews are a race or not, or white or not, did not presumably concern the authors of the report.) Asked the same of marriage to a Jew, 30 per cent of Asians said they would `mind a lot', compared to 10 per cent of AfroCaribbeans and 5 per cent of whites.

Most of the other questions, as usual with such surveys, were geared to white racism, such as asking non-whites which races whites are prejudiced against, but not which races non-whites are prejudiced against. And, alas, non-whites were not asked if they would mind relatives marrying whites. The answer to that would have been very interesting. Yet, on the marriage test at least, it would appear that white Britons, followed by Afro-Caribbeans, are the least racist of the races in Britain and Asian Britons are the most racist.

Why had it taken the race relations bureaucracy so many years to get around to examining what, to many outside it, seemed blindingly obvious? The survey co-ordinator Yasmin Alibhai-Brown explained, `In the Eighties, we Asians used to call ourselves black. We thought there was something to be gained from being part of a very strong movement. Five or six years ago, many Asian people said they did not want to call themselves black any more. Then, more recently, many of us thought that we should try and look at what is happening across the board, not just at white racism, that we wouldn't gain the respect of the white community if we talked about white racism and no other.'

She added, `The mistake we've made is not thinking about white identity enough over the years. I feel "multicultural" wrongly meant the non-white culture. Anybody who tried to assert white culture was automatically a member of the British National party. That was wrong. We're going to have to look at people being proud of being British and white without them necessarily being the enemy.'

I decided to have a look at non-white racism. I spoke first to Anu, a 27-year-old Midlands doctor and Hindu, whose family come from the Punjab. Yes, Asians were racially prejudiced, he freely admitted, mostly so against blacks - and, if Hindus or Sikhs, against Muslims, and if Muslims, vice versa. As for being traditionally regarded as black for race-relations purposes, many Asians found that insulting. He explained:

Blacks are perceived very much as savages. It's as harsh as that. It's partly because nobody has seen blacks in India. Also there is a complex about dark skin in India. If you have a daughter with dark skin it's an enormous impediment. In India the lower castes tend to have dark complexions.

The very worst thing for an Asian Hindu or Sikh would be if his children were to marry a black or a Muslim. A white marriage would be considered better. If I married a black or Muslim it would be a much bigger disaster than marrying a white girl, even though culturally I would have much more in common with a Muslim girl. …

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