Is Racism Still a Problem in 21st Century Britain?

One might imagine that such a question as to whether Britain is racist in 21st century Britain is an irrelevant if not touchy subject.

It is undeniable that the rise of the English Defence League, the rising popular vote of UKIP and the emergence of groups such as Britain First and PEGIDA across Europe suggests that there are tensions regarding multiculturalism that are threatening to become more prominent as a backlash towards ISIS and terror attacks on European soil.

In a recent BBC programme and Guardian article, Mona Chalabi asks the uncomfortable question, ‘is Britain racist?’ She cites facts such as being 17 times more likely to be stopped and searched if you are black in parts of the country. She also demonstrates that whether consciously or subconsciously, many people identify with members of their own race more favourably than those who are not.

A look at those in power gives a clearer perspective of how that power lies in the hands of predominantly white people. In England and Wales, 94.5% of police officers are white as opposed to the 1.1% that are black, and just 6.6% of MPs (excluding Northern Ireland) are non-white. Black Caribbean pupils are 3 times more likely to be expelled from school than pupils from other backgrounds.

Chalabi argues that as a result of white hegemony within the social elite, ‘as long as systems of power remain white, racism against white people will not be the same as racism against people of other races’. She thereby suggests that because white people control society that people from other backgrounds are much more likely to be victims of it.

The key to tackling the marginalisation of any given demographic within a community is education. Other cultures and customs ought to be celebrated as enriching the cultural diversity of the landscape. The whole concept of an ‘indigenous’ population is inherently flawed. Where should the ‘indigenous’ history of Britain begin? With the Celts, Anglo-Saxons, Romans or Norman French? The truth is that Britain has been multicultural for millennia. The success of the nation has been in the integration of other people’s into its midst.

Immigration began on a wide scale after World War Two as many people who had fought for the British Empire migrated to the UK in search of a better life and opportunities. They have successfully contributed to British culture and life.

The truth is that the victimisation of whole communities based on fears of being swamped by migrants is rife, and is fuelled by irresponsible media articles. Islamophobia is a rising phenomena fuelled by the distrust of whole communities due to the actions of a few deranged individuals.

The positive news is that Britain is certainly a mostly tolerant and open society, yet there is a dark undercurrent lurking beneath the surface that makes this topic increasingly relevant.  The fact that immigration, immigration and islamophobia are still issues that warrant discussion shows that efforts still need to be made and that problems do indeed remain in modern Britain that need to be addressed.

Written By:

Daniel James


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