October 24, 2005

Trouble In Birmingham

Follow-up to Did Anyone Notice The Noise? from Hollyzone

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?


- 5 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. 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?

    Well they do say a prophet is without honour in their own land… ;)

    24 Oct 2005, 20:20

  2. I am sorry to hear you are cold and damp. Earlier, I was clammy (due to a well-used seminar room and an impassioned analysis of Sirkian mise-en-scène on my part). Now I am warm without the clamminess. I am not wearing a jumper. I have croissants waiting downstairs. And jam… You are welcome to take a metaphorical share of this warmth. But not too much. It’s mine, you see.

    25 Oct 2005, 00:32

  3. One can only hope that as people become more and more globally mobile, they'll get used to people changing around them and come to embrace the newcomer, who will, in any case, be the dominant party.

    Even within schools, new people are regarded with suspicion and often rejected. Maybe such problems should be addressed from the beginning by encouraging greater acceptance at school. How this could be done wihout reinforcing the issue, however, I have no idea!

    01 Nov 2005, 21:01

  4. I know this may be the most cliched and possibly also the most difficult- to- achieve solution, but I do really believe that the heart of the matter is respecting the other person no matter who or what they are, just as a manifestation of the principle that every human being is infinitely precious and worthy or respect. I know this means that I will have to respect Milosevic and Narendra Modi, which arguably ruins my solution outright, but I am sure I can try really, really hard (!)

    19 Nov 2005, 14:23

  5. street team

    check out the trailer on the extras page of hardnoxx.co.uk. contains documentray footage of the riots, the infamous burger bar crew and some good music

    peace

    the street team

    28 May 2006, 14:23


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