Racism in the U.K.

'Love Music Hate Racism' Gig in the North-west in June 2004. Photo taken by JK the Unwise. Wikimedia Commons

The referendum vote to leave the European Union in the U.K. demonstrated several sad truths. One of which is a distinct shift in racial tolerance. According to the Home Office, “In 2016/17, there were 80,393 offences recorded by the police in which one or more hate crime strands were deemed to be a motivating factor”. This was a 29% increase from the previous year. Of this figure, 78% were race crimes.

The disparity between different races is highlighted in several different sectors. For example, according to the government’s Race Disparity Audit carried out last year, “Home ownership is most common among households of White British, Indian, Pakistani and Mixed White and Asian origin; it is substantially lower in African, Arab and Mixed Black and White African households”. In terms of employment, according to the government’s recent findings, “Around 1 in 10 adults from a Black, Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Mixed background were unemployed compared with 1 in 25 White people”. Overall, there are higher employment rates for white British. In terms of education, the study revealed that whilst white state school students “had the lowest university entry rate in 2016”, over 90% of head teachers were white British. Therefore, at the point of visibility, institutions remain white. Overall this shows how many ethnic minorities are fighting against a system that has not created a space for them.

This report was in October 2017. Theresa May at the time claimed to be dedicated to an end goal of equality. However, this government appears far more preoccupied with maintaining power through shotgun elections, minor cabinet changes and the continual distraction of Brexit. This is instead of dealing with the social issues that may have caused such a vote in the first place. Isolating and segregating creates further discrimination. A foundation of inequality is not a foundation for a progressive country.

The fear of the “other” has driven divisive politics in the last few years. In Western societies, economic problems and failures of the incumbent government have been placed at the hands of the immigrant. However, if we were to look at the National Health Service, for example, we would witness the importance of immigration. A recurring theme in our hyperbolic press is NHS shortages. The media presents the NHS as poised for collapse. However, it is being maintained for the moment partly by immigration. According to The Independent, there are around 60,000 staff members within the NHS from the European Union alone.

However, we should not welcome immigrants purely because they are “useful”. The question should rather be – why should we not welcome them? Compassion, understanding and tolerance are attributes this country needs to remember, particularly in terms of refugees. Why should we not help when we can? This country is not on the brink of collapse. Perhaps your child will not get into their first choice school if the population was larger in certain areas, but the fact is – they would go to school. They would have access to free healthcare. They would be protected by the state. Indeed, these are the values we need to uphold, protect and learn from. Equality is an ideal, but it should be a reality.

Global Seven News

By Catherine McNaughton