Being black or Asian in the UK no longer means you will be automatically disadvantaged, Communities Secretary John Denham has said.
Well, as a member of a minority group, I’m bloody pleased to hear it. I can hang up my writing gloves (After this blog Post). I can stop worrying about my childs future because racism is totally dead and the world (well Britain at least now totally works on a meritocratic system).
Beeb beeb beep beep…..ohh, that’ll be my alarm then, time to WAKE UP!
Mr Denham said progress made since 2000 meant that, while racial discrimination still existed, disadvantage was now more linked to poverty, class and identity.
Mr Denham said the problems of white working-class areas must be tackled. I agree… but
Lets’s just take a little look at this. Progress made, well I agree that progress has definitely been made, when I was a lad it wasn’t uncommon to get called nigger in the street or even to be spat at by a total stranger. Today that doesn’t happen, at least not to me it doesn’t. Racism is publicly unacceptable even if it’s still privately pervasive.
You can pretty much go to a footy match these days and not have to endure every black player being bad mouthed, or live in fear of having your head staved in just for having the audacity to turn up and shout for your team.
So, whilst I do concur that progress has definitely been made, racial discrimination is still there.
Now we come to the white working class. what can reasonably be said? Of course some of the white working class have problems, it goes without saying, all people have problems.
However, the question really remains to be seen as to whether white working class kids are really suffering because of some kind of “positive discrimination” in favour of ethnic minorites.
Before Labour came to power, it was most definitely the other way around. Black students and particularly Bangladeshi students were easily bottom of the pile.
So, what has actually changed in schools and the wider community at large that now means Minorities are NOT ALWAYS disadvantaged, and that white working class people almost always are?
Years ago, when I was a student,; (yes a was a student, and Paul Carf hates Students ) but, when I was a Student, there was a Tory Government and we learned about while Privilege. We learned this alongside Pierre Bordieux’s Cultural capital theory.
White privilege simply means that you are more likely to be offered opportunities in a majority white county country, if you are actually white. Now before you all jump down my throat at this point, I think that this is totally natural. It’s instinctive to have a leaning and tendency towards people who look like you. Racial preference in inbuilt in all of us.
Something that I have observed is that many white people do not seem to realise that they actually have this privilege to begin with.
Again before the cacophony of “Racist” flies at me with the well directed venom of the BNP stalwarts, I’d like to point out that 95% of all my friends are white. I myself am half white, my partner is white, my adoptive parents are white, and my child is 3/4 white. I don’t have a racist tendency in me, what I do have is an acute awareness of racism, be it from Black, White or Asian.
Not realising this inbuilt privilege is, in my opinion the downfall of the white working classes who are now supposedly underprivileged. They don’t know they actually do automatically have a trump card. The group termed as the white working class seem to suffering some prolonged nhangover from days gone by. Many can’t seem to accept that jobs for life, and assumed racial superiority no longer exist or carry weight.
Working in Education, I regularly come across white working class kids, who seem to have given up all hope of the future. they have no interests, no activities, they think reading is the passtime of homosexuals, sport is for “joiners”. Is this really the doing of a little equal opps for minorities?
It really worries me on one level because in my work I regularly meet middle class white kids who seem to be flying, with no fear of the future. At the same time I also come across lots of hard working working class white kids who are going to go far and change their circumstances by heir own hand. Personal circumstance is a major factor here.
I have come to believe that you really do get out of life just what you put in, This is precisely the sort of advice that the likes of Margaret Thatcher and Norman Tebbitt gave to Ethnic minorities in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
” Pull yourselves up by ,your bootstraps and you will get your just deserts”.
I think that advice certainly hit home with a lot of minorites of my age group. The message was clear. Life is hard , deal with it. Today the school results that now show working class black boys doing better than working class white boys..demonstrates that many minority families…”dealt with it”. My own mother used to say to me, “son, you have to work twice as hard as any white boy to get what you want, just to get seen even. When you do get seen, you’ll get the job because you have talent, but if you don’t work hard you’ll never even get an interview”. She was dead on the money. Even today minorities who apply for jobs often change their name to an English sounding one just in hope of getting an interview. Getting seen is all important. Over the last ten years or so minorities have been seen, their talents have been acknowledged more and more and opportunity has grown.
But that is not to say that minorities are clear of danger. There are still large uncombated issues such as guns, drugs, religious oppression, cultural abrasion and fatherless families to be scrutinised and dealt with. These problems can be dealt with by the engagement of minority communities tackling them head on and working through these issues. All this has to be done as part of the wider community though, as such problems can affect any groups of people regardless of colour.
The white working classes aren’t doomed though, they simply have to, at an individual level, sit down and plan what it is they want from life. Map out their personal strategy and take it from there. Tthere will be set backs along the way for each and every person, only the truly determined will succeed. to succeed you have to REALLY want it.
Simply trying to lump people together as white, black, working class, middle class, provides a very distorted picture, as the lines between these groups has blurred considerably in the last 30 years. People are more upwardly mobile in general, they own their own homes and cars, people have more disposable cash to spend. Personal experience influences future goals.
Mr Denhams comments are politically naive in one particular respect though, because to even allude to the problems of minorities being over, will certainly result in a lack of support that is only just becoming established. A withdrawal of such support systems will see minority groups once again become sidelined and disregarded.
The perpetuated notion of Class difference is what sustains the grip of political parties across the spectrum. Not Until notions of class are finally eradicated can we have a truly level playing field where people are judged only by their impact and contribution to society.