Culture
23.1.18

Community and Race and the Problems We Face

Abel Tan Jun Yang/Pexels.com

We are living in a dynamic and curious new era. Technology has advanced at an exponential rate, bearing witness to the sheer influx of computer science, particularly artificial intelligence, yet the people who constitute humankind have still been unable to overcome social and cultural divides amongst themselves.

The inherent background of many people living in the United Kingdom has diversified. It has become even more apparent that integration continues to face high scrutiny across the country.

Much to the pique of the government’s lax and laissez-faire approach to immigration, barriers were instead created accidentally; the ideology of society configured a lot better in theory, rather than practice. In 2002, the then-ruling Labour party introduced “citizenship tests” to inoculate a sense of common values in non-native individuals.

Former head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, Trevor Phillips, warned in a quote from the Civitas publication that Britain is not treating integration with the importance it so desperately craves: “This stance is dangerously misguided and will not do anymore. Squeamishness about diversity risks the country sleepwalking to catastrophe.”

In a study reported on by the Independent, a UK based charity called The Network Challenge stated that although diversity is growing within our society, many people do not connect with those from differing backgrounds, and this is represented by just one in ten Britons having a best friend from a dissimilar racial group. The charity brings people together for youth and community integration, aiming to raise awareness of social and economic risks which can be associated with social segregation.

The mayor of Newham in London, Sir Robin Wales, has adopted a fundamental yet controversial attempt at bridging his community, which is filled with people from all walks of life. He has adopted daring and strategic methods to ensure that his borough maintains an inclusive environment for all residents. To BBC Wales, Sir Robin declared, “We won’t support single ethnic or religious groups to do things themselves within those groups. Our job is to support when people come together. Our government grants will be £250 if you want to throw a street party, but it must be inclusive.”

However, it must be noted that efforts from either side of the spectrum, British-born or not, must be raised in order for an engaged community to thrive. It is widely believed that the contentious Brexit decision was coloured by mass immigration, which critics claim has overwhelmed British culture, public services and other resources.

As quoted by Newsweek in a response to emailed questions, Stephen Booth, the co-director of a non-partisan think tank and campaign group called Open Europe, replies, “The evidence is that immigration does not have huge economic effects either way. There have been major changes to some areas of the country which are not used to immigration — new shops, languages, etc. Some people view this positively, others feel threatened by the change.”

Booth is further quoted by Newsweek as adding, “EU migrants make a fiscal contribution to the UK, but the public is concerned that investment in public services, housing and infrastructure has not kept pace, and in some local areas integration is a challenge.”

There are many unfavourable theories behind the Brexit outcome, some condemning the “stiff upper lip” of Britons, others criticising government campaigns. No matter one’s personal preference, Brexit makes for a good excuse when disassociating from one another. Interest rates have risen for the first time in more than a decade and look set to continue to do so, resulting in further volatility and the fear of a bleak few years ahead. This has, in turn, opened up a breeding ground for a blame game to set about, with race and ethnicity found at the heart. The Brexit result bolstered on the inherently abstract contribution of immigration, fixated on the negative impact that a multinational population may bring.

Net migration actually fell to a three-year low in the wake of the Brexit referendum after an exodus of European workers. The lack of a strong, established and well-identified community can also be held responsible for the upheaval of migrants who have gone on to other places, which in hindsight could cause labour shortages across the United Kingdom. Last year’s figures from the Office for National Statistics reveal that the United Kingdom may be becoming a less attractive place to live in. An article written by Andrew Atkinson for Bloomberg includes the detail: “Arrivals outnumbered departures by 246,000 in the last 12 months through March 2017.” The article continues, “That was down a ‘statistically significant’ 81,000 from a year earlier and was also the lowest figure since March 2014, the Office for National Statistics in London said.”

The development of political correctness has produced adverse effects, rippling across our communities. When we grew up, teachers endlessly repeated, “If you don’t know, ask!” Yet somewhere along the way of leaving our institutions of education, we have been batted down with not allowing ourselves to inquire into someone’s heritage for trepidation of causing insult. Though it may seem almost unfathomable, most folk enjoy being quizzed a little on their existence. The difficulty of sparking an intriguing conversation with an unacquainted fellow begins and ends with yourself.

Global Seven News

Written by Thomasina Jordan-Rhodes