Trouble In Birmingham
So it is true. The news outlets have started to release the details of the Birmingham riots and what my brother said seems to have been true. A rumour lead to chaos.
I had asked him if he was going to be ok and he answered yes for two reasons. Number one, he's a student. Apart from the occasional mugging they don't tend to get picked on if they keep out of the gangland culture. And secondly he was quite unlikely to get mistaken for a gangster because he is white.
It's another manifestation of one of the issues which perplexes a lot of white people – that they don't have the monopoly on racism. And yet it's looking at non-white racism that puts it in perspective. Whilst it's easy when you are white (as the media majority is in this country) to get angsty about white racists, disowning them, ridiculing them, it doesn't allow you to cut to the heart of the problem. Racism is a fear of the newcomer.
It doesn't matter how long a particular group has lived in an area, as long as they are perceived as the newcomer then there will be issues. In this particular Birmingham case the Pakistani community has moved in to an African-Caribbean area and there are tensions. It exists inside 'races' as well. The Welsh and Scottish don't like it when English people move into remote communities. Hell, rural English people don't like it when townies move in. In a way racism is only racism because it allows a handy external sign (skin colour) to be used to identify the 'newcomer'. We are now much more tolerant of the Irish who have been entering this country for a long time and are henceforth both less newcomer-like themselves, and there are new newcomers.
Now I'd love to offer solutions, but do you really think I'd be sat in a cold and damp student house if I could answer that question?