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Britain’s race pain is not the same as America’s A like-for-like equation is potentially inflammatory, crassly propagandistic — and untrue

Police blocked a road close to London's US embassy on Sunday. Credit: Hollie Adams/Getty Images

Police blocked a road close to London's US embassy on Sunday. Credit: Hollie Adams/Getty Images


June 3, 2020   5 mins

The horrific murder of George Floyd, a black man who died by the knee of Officer Derek Chauvin to his neck, in Minneapolis has not only shocked the American nation, but angered the world. Floyd is the latest addition to a gallery of mainly black men who have been victims of police brutality: Eric Garner, Walter Scott, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland to give a few examples. Floyd’s killing has a “this time it’s different” vibe — condemnation across the political and social spectrums, and the biggest protests and rioting across the nation since 1968, after the assassination of Martin Luther King jr — only because the footage makes it clear and unequivocal: there is no wiggle room, no get-out clause, no slimy rationalisation to take refuge in. This was not a split-second decision made under pressure. Kneeling on a man’s neck for minutes on end, effectively putting him down like a stray dog on the street, is anything but that. You’re forced to see the murder for what it was.

Across the globe, demonstrations of solidarity and protest under the banner of ‘Black Lives Matter’ have taken place. Syrians in Idlib painted a mural dedicated to George Floyd. In Britain, there have been demonstrations in Manchester and London. Outside the gates of Downing Street, protesters chanted “I can’t breathe” and “fuck the police”.

As is often the case in these scenarios, activists seek to make a connection between what is going on in America and how it connects to their situation here. “The prejudice that black people in America face is the same prejudice we face here,” a BLM activist, Shayne, told the BBC. “I think it really made me take a look at the police system all around the world. I have always been focusing on institutional racism in America but it really made me look in the UK. I have realised that there’s so much institutional racism in the UK police.”

On Newsnight on Monday the spoken-word artist George The Poet said: “There are disturbing parallels between the black British experience and the African-American experience.” Emily Maitlis challenged him — “but you are not putting America and Britain on the same footing … our police aren’t armed, they don’t have guns, the legacy of slavery is not the same” — and received a lot of criticism on social media from those who felt she was being tone deaf or ‘whitesplaining’ racism to a black man.

I understand and empathise with why people make this comparison: there is a trans-Atlantic Anglo-American intercourse at play. America is an intellectual and cultural powerhouse. Anti-racist and black liberation movements in Britain have long taken inspiration from black American music and black political movements in the United States, such as the Black Panthers, Black Power and certain trends in American academia, to help them form their critique of racism in Britain.

There is not so much a parallel per se, but an echo in the British and American ‘black experience’, in terms of incarceration rates, for example. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s the infamous ‘sus laws’ were revived and deployed by police to harass and arrest black people for ‘loitering’ or just walking down the street, echoing the American story of police targeting black communities.

There is also a gallery of mainly black men who have died in ‘suspicious circumstances’ when coming into contact with the police. For instance, Julian Cole, mentioned by George The Poet in his Newsnight segment, was paralysed in 2013 during a scuffle with nightclub doormen and police officers. The officers lied in their statements about what happened during Julian’s arrest and his condition, which could have prevented him from going into a vegetative state. They were subsequently sacked after an inquiry, but not prosecuted. Sean Rigg, who in 2008 died outside Brixton police station during a mental health episode after being ‘restrained’ by police.

According to the charity Inquest, there have been 1,741 deaths in police custody or otherwise following contact with the police in England and Wales since 1990. If you dig deeper into the statistics, you discover that use of force is a feature in twice as many deaths among the BAME population as it is in other deaths in custody. Shockingly, not one police officer has been successfully prosecuted — let alone convicted  —  for deaths of this type since 1969, when the two Leeds police officers responsible for the death of David Oluwale  —  the first black man to die in police custody in the UK  —  were found guilty of assault but found not guilty of manslaughter on the direction of the judge, despite unlawful killing verdicts in coroner’s inquests. This echoes the United States in creating a culture of impunity among the police who feel they can do anything and get away with it, knowing that the legal system will give them refuge.

Part of the problem with the discussion is that to suggest that racism in Britain is not the same as racism in America can be perceived as downplaying, or even denying, the racism that exists in Britain. “It’s an insult to tell black British people that this is an American experience and they shouldn’t draw comparisons,” said the historian David Olusoga. But while there may be parallels between the black experience in Britain and America, there are also huge differences. Race and racism manifests themselves in different ways in Britain and in America because they are different societies with different histories. That’s not to minimise British racism or ‘pat Britain on the back’, to use a common cliché in this argument.

Unlike America, Britain does not have a history of slavery and de jure segregation within its borders, although the British empire was throughout the 18th century a leading power in the slave trade, which thanks to the asiento system meant it also supplied slaves to the French and Spanish colonial territories in the Caribbean and the Americas. Britain long had a hypocritical conceit in regards to the ‘peculiar institution’; technically it wasn’t permissible on its ‘green and pleasant land’, because no formal statute codifying modern slavery within Britain was ever passed, since apparently “England was too pure an air for a slave to breathe in”.

So slavery, and all the abuse, racism and exploitation that comes with it, was permissible ‘over there’ in the colonies, but not allowed in the sceptred isle itself.

There have been attempts to enforce unofficial segregation against black migrants through institutionalised forms of racism in housing, employment, most graphically manifested in the ubiquitous ‘No blacks, no Irish, no dogs’ signs outside of pubs and clubs, until the 1968 Race Relations Act that forbid it. However, Britain doesn’t have the legacy of segregation and redlining America has.

There aren’t neighbourhoods in Britain that are wholly black, where people grow up and may not encounter a white person or anyone of a different ‘race’ at all. In America there is a distinct ‘black bourgeoisie’, with its own networks to provide opportunities. You encounter neighbourhoods that have the trappings of stereotypical middle-class life, but are entirely black such as in Harlem, New Orleans, Atlanta and parts of Los Angeles. There is no equivalent in Britain. While there are individual blacks who are among the general middle class, there is no distinct ‘black bourgeoisie’.

Moreover, all police officers in America have a gun. While a gun is not necessary for police brutality to take place, guns do make it much easier and the results more often fatal.

There is a certain type of black activist who often makes the equation between the British and American experiences. They are prone to soliloquys about the ‘fact of their blackness’; how their ‘blackness’ is a burden. They speak in the language of ‘trauma’ (so much so that trauma is evacuated of any meaning and trivialised), and draw on the idioms of identitarianism from the rump of American academia. Imposing the racial language and grammar of the United States on to Britain, a society that is different historically, socially and ethnically, is a form of intellectual imperialism, and obscures how we should analyse racism in Britain, and how it can be combated.

I don’t wish to downplay the situation and claim there isn’t a problem with racism and violence. There is; but I want to be mindful of the black American situation. Black people in Britain haven’t been victims of pornographic forms of racist violence such as public lynching. The police in Britain don’t shoot 12-year-old children at point-blank range, was the case with Tamir Rice.

To make a like-for-like equation between Britain and America is untrue, potentially inflammatory and crassly propagandistic. Racism and police brutality absolutely exist and are serious problems. But they must be addressed on their own terms.


Ralph Leonard is a British-Nigerian writer on international politics, religion, culture and humanism.

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Michael Dawson
Michael Dawson
4 years ago

It’s also worth pointing out that racial discrimination is not just a white against black matter. I remember when I worked in the civil service just about the only example of racism I came across was from a generally very nice colleague of mine who was from Trinidad, but of Asian extraction. Her views on blacks would have got her arrested if she had promulgated them more widely (and probably if she’d been more senior or white!). People generally like to assort with people like them (homophily), and one marker of similarity is colour. I am certainly not condoning discrimination, but there needs to be some recognition of what is realistic and that the UK is by no means uniquely or even especially racist, not just in comparison with the US, but I suspect much more generally too.

Paul Atreides
Paul Atreides
4 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

By any sensible measure the UK isn’t racist at all. With the exception of perhaps Sweden or the Netherlands, this is the least racist country on earth, not just at this moment in time, but ever. Any discussion of racism in the UK is generally devoid of any historical or geographical context.

I agree that is quite likely that we have reached a point in which racial minorities in the UK harbour more prejudice towards each other than the white majority does towards them. I have Afro-Caribbean friends from Bradford who have numerous white friends but voice considerable antipathy towards the Asian community (a feeling that is likely mutual). If there is a racial faultline in Bradford, I would argue that is where is lies.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul Atreides

I wouldn’t be too sure about the Netherlands.
A murky past during three centuries and more in what is now Indonesia, plus those strange chaps they ‘left behind’ in what is now South Africa?
Every nation has at least one skeleton in a cupboard. Some are bigger than others.

Russ Littler
Russ Littler
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

You mean those 16,000 murdered “strange chaps?”

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Russ Littler

I’m not sure. I meant those chaps who gave us a “dam good thrashing” in the First Boer War, and the same in the Second Boer War.
Are we speaking of one and the same?

Sridhar Raman
Sridhar Raman
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul Atreides

I am confused. You are using your anecdotal experience of Bradford to make the claim that there is no racism among the whites. But you ignore all the other instances of systemic racism by the British Empire. NOTE: You brought up “not just at this moment in time, but ever”.

>> By any sensible measure the UK isn’t racist at all
In my very first day in UK, a man walking his dogs said “get away from those black f$%king things” referring to us as we crossed paths. Let’s not get all too cocky when making assertions. (I bring up anecdotes as that seems to be the majority of the opinions here in this comments thread)

Lucy Smex
Lucy Smex
4 years ago
Reply to  Sridhar Raman

But you ignore all the other instances of systemic racism by the British Empire

And ignore the systematic racism of just about every nation on Earth during the time of the British Empire, and millennia before that.

Angela Woodhouse
Angela Woodhouse
4 years ago
Reply to  Lucy Smex

Let’s not forget the Ottoman Empire.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago

How about the all time favourite; Germany. Their time in what is now Namibia (1904-08) was a precursor for that they would get up to in 1942-45.
Words such as “Iron Fist and Velvet Glove”, come to mind.

Sridhar Raman
Sridhar Raman
4 years ago
Reply to  Lucy Smex

Umm, where exactly is anyone ignoring the racism of other nations? There are fights going on those fronts on all those nations. If not, people are protesting for those rights. What does that have to do with this assertion – “By any sensible measure the UK isn’t racist at all.”

What is this logic – other nations are also racist, so the UK isn’t? Mind-boggling!

Douglas Choi
Douglas Choi
4 years ago
Reply to  Sridhar Raman

I have lived in this country for over six years. I have lived in the U.S. for 20 years, 18 in Canada. 5.5 in Argentina. I have traveled to 80 countries, spending extensive time in many of those. It is absolutely, gob-smackingly incredible to me that anyone would suggest that the UK is not racist (by the way, before you seek to dismiss my comments on the basis of political views, I have very heterodox political perspectives that do not lend themselves easily to the conventional left-right categories). I am also of Korean descent (and Korea is a country that is, overall, virulently racist — esp. toward blacks and other darker-complected ethnic groups), so I am not afraid to “critique my own.”

Let me be very blunt. In Korea, you will not learn a darn thing about the degree of racism by asking the Koreans. You will uncover the degree of racism present in Korean society by asking the Vietnamese, the Filipinos, the blacks (the very few that there are), the Arabs, etc. (and even with some of these folks, you may have to get them talking for quite a while because in some cases they are so badly marginalized that they have had to numb themselves to all the racism they experience just to “get by” on a day-to-day basis). But if you do this difficult investigative work, you will find that the country (my “motherland,” although I was born in Canada) is racist as f**k by talking to those minority groups.

So it is here (that you will not learn a darn thing about the degree of racism by asking white Britons). What I see on this comment thread are mostly (nearly all?) white people declaring confidently that there is no (or little) racism here in the UK. Wow. Just wow.

I would distinguish between so-called hard racism and soft racism. Hard racism being burning crosses on lawns, lynching people, etc. I experience considerably more soft racism in this country than in the U.S. (comparing apples to apples (big city to big city, rural village to rural village). That is an absolute fact as someone who has lived for an extended period of time in both countries. The vast majority of white people here with whom I enter into substantive conversations about race (and trust me, I have had hundreds of such conversations) have never once had such a conversation, wherein they consider deeply the question of whiteness. That is such a clear indicator of the problem here. The vast majority of people have not even reached the point of thinking hard about these issues and wrestling with them personally. Many of my white friends in the U.S. have engaged really deeply with the issues explored in the videos pasted below. Many (clearly, not all, and clearly, too few) white folks in the U.S. who are in their 30s, 40s and even 50s have grown up having, say, a black primary school teacher whom they adored and respected and hugged each morning. Or grew up playing football or baseball or basketball with, or served in the military together with, someone of a different race whom, again, they adored and respected. Many have had professors at university who were, say, blacks teaching about Jewish history or Asians teaching about Spanish contemporary art. Very, very few (none?) of their British counterparts have had such experiences. This is part of the reason so few whites in Britain are intimately conversant with race and understanding what it means to be white.

Suggest you start with:

https://www.opendemocracy.n
https://www.huffpost.com/en
https://soundcloud.com/ucls
https://www.youtube.com/wat
https://www.youtube.com/wat… (most of this could equally (if not more) apply to the UK)
https://www.youtube.com/wat
https://www.youtube.com/wat
https://www.youtube.com/wat… (the level of denial on display is so f*****g deep)

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Sridhar Raman

Look, let’s face it Racism has been around since we crawled out of the Neanderthal Valley. Even the perfectly wonderful Romans, perhaps the most pluralistic society ever, indulged in it occasionally, particularly towards the effete Greeks.
Fortunately inane prejudices such as Racism, can normally be countered by force of personality, as you must be aware. History is littered with examples, too numerous to mention here.
However using Legislation, in reality, coercion, is almost always counter productive, as can be clearly seen across the UK today.

Sridhar Raman
Sridhar Raman
4 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Sorry, if you consider racism as an “inane prejudice”, I guess we differ quite greatly in our outlook and lived experience.

Nevertheless, my response to the original commenter is still valid, and that’s the context of this thread.

We can discuss ways to tackle racism and the comparison of tactics in a different channel, probably. Cheers.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
4 years ago
Reply to  Lucy Smex

If you want to see real ‘white on white’ racism, pop over to Northern Ireland a for long weekend. It’s all Proddy dogs
and Taigs! If I’ve got the spelling correct.
It hasn’t changed much in more than three centuries, so there is no need to hurry.
However I would personally recommend mid July, the twelfth would be a good day for example.

william Newell
william Newell
4 years ago
Reply to  Lucy Smex

So the majority on here are saying Britain is not racist institutionally in any way.

Not being able to critically look at ourselves and the ugly parts is part of the problem in my opinion.

The attitude of the empire, ie we are superior to others has filtered into society generations ago, not even debating that.

We keep pedalling a pristine self view of ourselves and pass this on to the kids who then do the same.

Why do we need race relations and anti-Discrimination acts of things are so rosy? Why are outcomes in most areas whether it be health or economic whatever so negative for the BAME community and been so for many years? Look at how black MPs are not respected (before you say black people are committing all the crime) and some of the comments on here that basically say it’s them not us.

It’s beyond doubt there are elements of prejudice from people of all walks of life. There is clearly institutional racism in the structures, fighting against it is taught at university and in school and there are numerous reports covering the topic in Policing, housing etc

And look at our foreign policy both historically and now. Never seem to bomb what’s countries do we?

All that has happened over the years is the issue is becoming apparent to many more and if you wouldn’t have it for you and yours why are we okay to allow it for tigers, basic decency.

Al Tinonint
Al Tinonint
3 years ago
Reply to  Sridhar Raman

You are using your anecdotal experience of Bradford to make the claim that there is no racism among the whites.

Where does he make that claim? He does not. Read what he has written.

Simon Adams
Simon Adams
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul Atreides

I agree that the UK is not racist, but nontheless there are sadly some people who are – ranging from nazi football thugs to people probably better described as ‘culturists’. As a below 50 years old white person I’m presumably less likely to come across them, but we shouldn’t ignore that these people exist or that their presence can make minorities uncomfortable.

However it’s clear that this is very different from the US where things are more segregated and unequal in many ways – not just race.

Lucy Smex
Lucy Smex
4 years ago
Reply to  Simon Adams

What Nazi football thugs?
Do you mean that football thugs are Nazis?
And regarding “culturists,” as this country is now described as multicultural, does that mean everyone who wishes to maintain their own cultural heritage and differences? Or just English people who wish to maintain their culture?

Carol Scott
Carol Scott
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul Atreides

I lived in then West Germany in the late 70s early 80s and the racism was overt. Apt. Ads said no foreigners, when I queried this when we were looking I was told, “they don’t mean you” it meant no Turks mainly though for some reason Italians were included. It was brought home when we invited a racially mixed married couple to visit. My neighbours never spoke to me again ! France was no better so yes, I do think Britain was and is a more tolerant country.

pudduh
pudduh
4 years ago
Reply to  Carol Scott

Theres a lot of animosity between Germans and Italians bubbling under the surface. Went on holiday in North West Italy and in the villages when the locals realised I wasn’t German but British welcomed me as a long lost friend (pretty rare for a Brit in Europe I must admit!)

Turns out that there was an outpost of German expats nearby in a village called Dolcheldo and the attitude towards Italians there was so bad most never went there except for mass at the local church and the village has the rather funny nickname of “Deutschedo”.

Angela Woodhouse
Angela Woodhouse
4 years ago
Reply to  Michael Dawson

This is such an important point that is never discussed, or if it has been I am not aware of it.
I have known only one truly racist white person, but several racist ethnic minorities who were really appalling about other ethnic minorities. I was also in the CS.
Recognition of what is realistic is highly unlikely to be acceptable in the current state of society – and what a dreadful thing to have to say.
If you don’t stick to the Agenda, mindless abuse, possible loss of income and worse can result.
However, I notice this morning that Emily Maitlis actually said that the UK and the US were not the same with their race issues. I can’t find the post to check exactly what she said, but it is something to be hopeful about. Not much I admit.

Esmon Dinucci
Esmon Dinucci
4 years ago

I saw that and totally agreed with her – Mahyar Tousi (who I would recommend to you, showed it on his Patron channel). She has also said things I vehemently disagree with – in terms of the BBC’s statuary duty to impartiality – e.g. the Cummings rant which was factually incorrect (leaving that aside). Maybe it’s me and my seeking of confirmation bias – but I do follow things up. There was a tweet about Abraham Lincoln which I assumed was made up – this was given as a justification for damaging his statue – until I checked, and sure enough there it was in the Library of Congress – something along the lines of the white and black races are different and shouldn’t live together – this was alongside his work in slave liberation. I suggested to the tweeter that they should add a link to the document do that other people – like me – not steeped in USA history would be able to go beyond the apple tree – or am I getting confused?
There are two ways to interpret the “sweet air of Britain” quote – the one given and the other way is that in England we would not allow slavery – apart from most women, and many children – the international acceptance of slavery was a matter of business and trade – a bit like selling arms to Saudi Arabia (well the French do it). O tempera o mores!

namelsss me
namelsss me
3 years ago
Reply to  Esmon Dinucci

I love the BBC’s ‘statuary duty to impartiality’ in the above, especially in the light of recent demolitions. I expect Esmon was undermined by productive toast -oops!

David Uzzaman
David Uzzaman
4 years ago

I have some appreciation of racism being born as a little brown baby in London in 1952. My mother who was white I assume suffered some prejudice but she never mentioned it at any time during her life. I certainly experienced quite a bit of both abuse and violence in my teens and early twenties but it petered out after that and I’ve never really felt uncomfortable anywhere since then. I don’t recognise the widespread discrimination that is supposed to surround us. In the sixties and seventies I worked with and for individuals who used very un PC language but on personal level the same people were both kind and fair in their dealings with me. That openness has been replaced with a more guarded discourse which in many ways is less warm. There has grown up a whole body of people whose entire profession life consists of finding grievance. There is very little meat for them in our society.

Esmon Dinucci
Esmon Dinucci
4 years ago
Reply to  David Uzzaman

I think more people have now adopted Martin Luther King Jr’s famous quote – and we are more likely to judge people by their character than any other factor – and not many of us like a moaner who takes no responsibility for their actions and tries to suggest it’s the fault of someone else.

latchmore
latchmore
3 years ago
Reply to  David Uzzaman

David,

Really interesting to hear this articulated. (in many ways people are becoming more guarded with negative consequences). It is something I suspected but haven’t really had any evidence to confirm.

As someone who is bisexual, I similarly worry about people within the LGBT community that are so militant about enforcing the correct use of labels that we are alienating natural allies. This aggressive approach can squeeze out the more casual dialogue, which is really important for enabling us all to learn more about and become more confident in living in a diverse society.

Instead, I fear many people are stopping talking about these important issues all together and as a result only radical polarised views are voiced and heard which will only create more tension and hate.

That said, I do see evidence of institutional racism (and homophobia, misogyny etc etc) in the UK but I think often this is derived more from more nuanced forms of prejudice rather than linked to skin colour (or sexuality in my case). Within the dialogue today any prejudiced comment is regarded as racist, homophobic, misogynist etc if the victim is black, gay, female etc and I think treating these prejudices in the same way doesn’t help unwind them.

If you tell someone who has an issue with ‘hoodies’ that they are racist when they are actually drawing their prejudices from other stereotypes, they are unlikely to respond sympathetically to the dressing down. You have to instead challenge the presented prejudice as they come. By developing more sympathy for a greater range of diversity in all its forms, eventually the institutional barriers will also hopefully start to dissolve.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  latchmore

Anti-semitism is another example.

joshaw1950
joshaw1950
4 years ago

I don’t understand how this matter can be discussed without at least some acknowledgment of the threat posed by young, black males, as admitted by Jesse Jackson.

Oliver Johnson
Oliver Johnson
4 years ago
Reply to  joshaw1950

What threat?

joshaw1950
joshaw1950
4 years ago
Reply to  Oliver Johnson

The threat referred to by Jesse Jackson.

reluctantmlungu
reluctantmlungu
4 years ago
Reply to  Oliver Johnson

Young black men – 1/32 of the US population – consistently commit around half of all US murders.

Frederick B
Frederick B
4 years ago
Reply to  Oliver Johnson

That if he heard footsteps behind him as he walked down the street and turned round, he was always relieved when he saw that the man following him was white, not black.

Stephen Follows
Stephen Follows
4 years ago
Reply to  joshaw1950

The threat to each other, for a start.

anon6484
anon6484
4 years ago
Reply to  joshaw1950

It’s not a discussion. Its diversion. Keep the Lower Orders fighting among themselves. Any library will show you it’s timeless and always works.

ajadegunwa
ajadegunwa
4 years ago
Reply to  joshaw1950

I think it’s because the fear is exaggerated and leads to unfair stereotypes being created.

Howard Medwell
Howard Medwell
4 years ago

I would like to take issue with one small item in this article, namely Ralph Leonard’s citation of the trope that cards reading “no dogs, no blacks, no Irish” were ubiquitous in pre-1968 England.
Only an idiot would deny that there was massive racial discrimination, especially in social housing, well into the 1970’s. There is still no doubt massive, and completely legal, discrimination in the sub-letting of bedrooms in individual households.
The cards in newsagents’ noticeboards (in those pre-internet days) usually referred to sublets in private households, far less frequently to lettings by larger-scale private landlords, and never to social housing.
If you were subletting your spare bedroom in 2020, you would still have a perfect legal right to prefer a white lodger to a black lodger, or vice versa.
As for the cards, the mention of dogs would have been seen as gratuitously offensive in 1958, let alone 1968. The frequent use of this trope encourages young people to think that everybody who was alive in 1968 approved of this sort of thing.
I have surfed the internet to find a photograph of one of these cards. The only one I have found is obviously from a stage or film set. The repeated use of this trope devalues any serious critique of the vile history of British racism. Please don’t use it.

David Morley
David Morley
4 years ago
Reply to  Howard Medwell

I’ve seen this on a film clip several times. Always the same sign, always the same house. I’ve often wondered how widespread it actually was.

wgeoff.56
wgeoff.56
4 years ago
Reply to  Howard Medwell

I don’t recall a great deal of racism is the 1960s, the secretary of our local working mens club was of West Indian origin. The influx of Pakistanis was more of an issue based on their unwillingness to integrate, something that continues to this day.

Marcus Millgate
Marcus Millgate
4 years ago
Reply to  Howard Medwell

A few years back, work colleagues (mixed backgrounds) were talking about the ‘no dogs’ signs. I told them my mother’s family who arrived in London from Ireland in the 1950’s never saw such signs.
Like me they were surprised to be told this as we’ve been led to believe that it was common place. Interestingly, a couple of retired Irish fellas down the social club said they’d heard of them but never saw any in person
Sure my family heard the the odd comment (during IRA bombings) etc, but it was rare & not to the point they felt uncomfortable. My Aunt did however take elocution lessons in the late 50’s to ‘improve her career prospects’ as did many a cockney.

Andrew D
Andrew D
4 years ago

Thank you Ralph, good points well made.

Two things: ‘So slavery, and all the abuse, racism and exploitation that comes with it, was permissible ‘over there’ in the colonies, but not allowed in the sceptred isle itself’. Not quite true; when we abolished slavery, this applied to the dominions as well as ‘this sceptred isle’. I know you’re talking about the C18, and slavery wasn’t abolished until 1833, but when it was abolished there was no distinction between home and colonies. And of course many countries (including African ones) continued (and continue) to trade in slaves.

Secondly, once again the odious ‘no blacks, no Irish, no dogs’ signs of yore are cited. Doubtless such signs existed, but how ‘ubiquitous’ were they? Has anybody done any research? I fear it’s becoming a bit of a lazy shorthand for saying our forebears were ignorant and bigoted, in the same way that allegedly widespread flat-earthism is often cited.

Frederick B
Frederick B
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

Very well said about that bl**dy “no dogs” sign. I suspect that one existed, once.

Ruth King
Ruth King
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew D

The reality is some of our forebears
(like some of our peers) were/are racist, but not all. My parents grew up in West London in the 1950s and my mum remembers the Notting Hill riots with men of colour being chased down the streets by men with knuckle-dusters. Her mother dragged kne man into safety in the basement where they lived. It was a part of London that also had a large Irish population. She vividly remembers the signs on doors. Incidentally she was the child of refugee parents from Spain (following the civil war) and her mother was spat at in an underground shelter during the war because she couldn’t speak English. I would say that racism was likely more prevalent and certainly overt then. Injustice must always be comfronted and dealt with, but I agree with this article that there is a dangerous conflation between Britain and America that people must be mindful of…

Cat Garland
Cat Garland
4 years ago

I agree that racism does exist in the UK, however having lived on both sides of the Atlantic, it is different. America is a much more divided and segregated society ( not just black and white) than the UK which has a history of gradual absorption of all who come to these shores. The danger is in the influence that the USA has world wide. I have lived in the Caribbean, closer to the influence of America and inclined to absorb American attitudes. It’s something we have to guard against.
There is something missing from your article. You focus on black and white differences. There are increasing numbers of mixed race relationships and marriages, and acceptance of multi- ethnic families, evidence that UK society is certainly different from America.

Frederick B
Frederick B
4 years ago
Reply to  Cat Garland

I believe that the annual rate of inter-racial marriages in the US is much higher than in Britain at about 16%. I don’t know what the current annual rate of inter-racial marriages is in Britain, but according to the 2011 census, 1.38% of relationships (marriages and cohabitations) existing at that time were between a white British person and a non-white partner.

We sometimes hear that 9% of relationships in Britain are inter-racial, a figure drawn from the census. But what the census actually disclosed was that 9% are “inter-ethnic”, and that most such relationships are invisible – white British/white Irish, Indian/Pakistani, black African/black Caribbean and so on.

Dave Tagge
Dave Tagge
4 years ago
Reply to  Frederick B

Pew Research Center data from 2015 supports your statement about the U.S. – 17% of newlyweds are married to someone of a different race or ethnicity. (For Pew’s analysis, the four groups used are White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian.)
https://www.pewsocialtrends

David Morley
David Morley
4 years ago

Thank you for such a balanced piece.

“It’s an insult to tell black British people that this is an American experience and they shouldn’t draw comparisons,”

It’s also highly dangerous to make the amalgam between the two. It would be a disaster if people in Britain reacted to events “as if” Britain was America.

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
4 years ago

It should be mentioned that most of the European countries dealt in the 18th/19th century slave trade. As did many civilisations throughout history. People are still being enslaved now. There has to be constant vigilance to prevent it. Equating the situation in the U.K. with that in the USA is not helpful.

Stephen Follows
Stephen Follows
4 years ago
Reply to  Giulia Khawaja

And many black countries.

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
4 years ago

Absolutely. The Europeans could not have bought the people from African tribes if their leaders had not sold them – whether money or goods changed hands, their leaders benefited.

Douglas McCabe
Douglas McCabe
3 years ago
Reply to  Giulia Khawaja

The trans-Atlantic slave trade was a financial business transacted between (1) black African slave owners, (2) white slave shippers (slave traders), and (3) white plantation owners in the Americas. The business was highly profitable for the three distinct groups. And, there was the appalling situation that many of the African slaves who were shipped to the New World, simply exchanged working for a black plantation owner for working for a white plantation owner, and their conditions didn’t change all that much if we exclude the hardship and suffering they endured during the passage to the New World.
Until African Americans and British Afro-Caribbeans are willing to examine the role played in the slave trade by African tribal leaders, they will continue to see the degradation their forebears suffered as a crime committed exclusively by white people.

Esmon Dinucci
Esmon Dinucci
4 years ago

In some cultures it is still mandatory to enslave your enemies and use them as concubines – the men are no use and are usuall killed.

ray coates
ray coates
4 years ago

As a privileged white male, having grown up in the 1970s, Id like to say that racism is dwindling. Tolerance and compassion, and above all respect. We are not America and saying we are clouds the problem.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
4 years ago

Whilst I agree the issue in Britain is very different to the issue in America and they should not be seen as comparable. Articles like this still downplay the massive extent to which the situation has improved in Britain with regard to police racism – it was already improving by the time of the Stephen Lawrence case and has improved beyond recognition since. Racial inequality most definitely does still exist in UK. However I believe when the CV19 BAME study does look at all the factors, the virus itself will not be found to be racist – there are many other factors not yet looked at which when properly looked at will exonerate the virus. The same is true of UK police now. Yes there may appear to be figures which indicate a disproportionate effect on BAME from police action, but if anyone really bothers to look beneath the headline figures, the police would similarly be exonerated – yes mistakes will always be made in tense situations, but there is no genuinely racist element to them.

The issue is MSM does not want the police to be exonerated. I have family experience of a case where police did not manage to save the life of someone, who happened to be BAME, given what that individual had done to himself before the police arrived. It is highly unlikely he could have been saved no matter what the police did. That did not prevent an 18 month investigation, concluded with coroner’s court hearings, where the only angle the press were interested in was could they make this into a police racism case. When they found they could not, they lost interest and certainly had no interest in viewing the situation from the other end of the telescope and then telling the real story, which was actually one of almost exemplary police action – there was one judgement made by the most experienced police officer which with the benefit of hind sight turned out to be incorrect, but was entirely understandable given the situation at the time (that officer did receive a censure on his record – imposed by IPCC not the court, others received extra training in the subject area). Had that judgement been different, it would have meant subjecting the individual to additional force, as he was totally non compliant and it is highly doubtful whether the eventual outcome would have changed, ie the individual would not have died hours later in hospital anyway. Nothing was done to address the emotional trauma suffered by the police officers involved over a protracted period – they just get to suck that up as being part of the job.

Carolyn Jackson
Carolyn Jackson
4 years ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

I think that the reason why BAME (I actually detest that acronym) people seem to be more prone to covid-19 in the northern hemisphere is probably because of lack of vitamin D. If you look at people of the same ethnicity in their countries of origin the death rate is very low. It could be worth looking into.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
4 years ago

Carolyn,

Not saying you are wrong, as it is a fact that darker skinned people produce less Vit D naturally. However there would be a lot of leaps to prove to show this is a cause of apparent “virus racism”. Given the Vit D added to certain foods and the availability of supplements, is it the case that darker skinned people in UK do have significantly lower levels than lighter skinned people? Were the darker skinned people who died significantly deficient in Vit D? Is Vit D deficiency a factor in CV 19 infection outcome – Vit D’s main effect is on bones? How to prove any of that in an ethical way?

Comorbidity may have something to do with it, which may have something to do with inequality (not the same a racism). I think though, when occupation is looked at properly, it will be demonstrated that a higher proportion of BAME are “key workers” and therefore not able to stay at home, who have greater close contact with larger numbers of random people, giving them a greater chance of getting a larger dose initial infection – the other key variable, which is not easily measurable, but there is at least a sound logical argument for it being deterministic in infection outcome. Multi generational households may also have something to do with it. Those factors are more promising and easier to demonstrate than a Vit D deficiency.

My big concern is the BAME community needs to be careful what they wish for with regard to be given more protection just because of the colour of their skin. All discrimination, no matter how well intentioned, has seriously undesirable unintended consequences.

It is very noticeable that nobody is clamouring to protect men over 50 (like me) and I am not clamouring to be protected. I do however give careful consideration to whether the benefits of the risks I am taking are worth it and if they are not I will avoid the risk. Eg when bars reopen, would I queue 3 deep and wait 15 mins to get served like I used to before the pandemic – no I would not bother now, indeed I would avoid any pub that was significantly crowded.

Carolyn Jackson
Carolyn Jackson
4 years ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

Most white people in the UK are vitamin D deficient, or at least have low levels. It follows that it’s far worse for people with darker skins. As for being a man over 50, you’re apparently irrelevant as a ‘special interest group’ because you apparently have ‘male privilege’, and if you happen to be a white male, forget it as you’re doubly ‘privileged’ if you’re not an ethnic ‘minority’ (another phrase I hate because what planet are they referring to. Certainly not this one)

Alan Matthes
Alan Matthes
4 years ago

I think I can speak for a lot of white people when I say how tedious it is to be reminded of historic slavery perpetrated by a tiny fraction of the British population living hundreds of years ago at a time when the majority of Brits lived in abject poverty. The big problem with racism is that so much of the time it is in the eye of the beholder and I suspect for many it provides a preferable alternative to taking responsibility and a handy default excuse when something in your life doesn’t go the way you wish.
Since the officer involved in this killing has been charged with murder people should let the law run its course – there will always be police officers that have no business wearing a uniform.

Mark Bretherto
Mark Bretherto
4 years ago

“the white supremacists at Charlottesville in 2017 who were heralded as “very fine people” by President Trump “
You know that simply isn’t true.

Marcus Millgate
Marcus Millgate
4 years ago

As reports of racially motivated, fatal shootings by police officers have garnered extensive public attention and sparked activism across the nation. Research from Michigan State University and University of Maryland in 2019 reveals findings that flip many of these reports on their heads ““ white police officers are not more likely to have shot minority citizens than non-white officers.

“Until now, there’s never been a systematic, nationwide study to determine the characteristics of police involved in fatal officer-involved shootings,” said Joseph Cesario, co-author and professor of psychology at MSU. “There are so many examples of people saying that when black citizens are shot by police, it’s white officers shooting them. In fact, our findings show no support that black citizens are more likely to be shot by white officers.”

“We found that the race of the officer doesn’t matter when it comes to predicting whether black or white citizens are shot,” Cesario said. “If anything, black citizens are more likely to have been shot by black officers, but this is because black officers are drawn from the same population that they police. So, the more black citizens there are in a community, the more black police officers there are.”

“Many people ask whether black or white citizens are more likely to be shot and why. We found that violent crime rates are the driving force behind fatal shootings,” Cesario said. “Our data show that the rate of crime by each racial group correlates with the likelihood of citizens from that racial group being shot. If you live in a county that has a lot of white people committing crimes, white people are more likely to be shot. If you live in a county that has a lot of black people committing crimes, black people are more likely to be shot. It is the best predictor we have of fatal police shootings.”

By connecting the findings of police officer race, victim race and crime rates, the research suggests that the best way to understand police shootings isn’t racial bias of the police officer; rather, by the exposure to police officers through crime.

The vast majority ““ between 90% and 95% ““ of the civilians shot by officers were actively attacking police or other citizens when they were shot. Ninety percent also were armed with a weapon when they were shot. The horrific cases of accidental shootings, like mistaking a cell phone for a gun, are rare, Cesario said.

John Dowling
John Dowling
4 years ago

The death of a suspect in police custody is a serious matter. The knee-on-neck technique for suspect immobilisation is a valid and approved technique but comes with protocols. This suspect died, so were the protocols ignored by the police officer? He has been charged so justice is being done and is seen being done. The question is, in the light of the mass hysteria being generated by the event, will the officer get a fair trial?
Another thought, would the death of a white suspect in the same way get any publicity over a short note on page 23? If a white man had been killed by a black officer? The political exploitation of this situation is blatant. All sorts of people are coming out of the woodwork and labelling all white people inherently racist. Is this not hate speech?

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
4 years ago
Reply to  John Dowling

John,

Apparently a search of the officer’s possessions revealed white supremacist material. Given the way things get distorted, I can’t be absolutely sure that is true. However, it certainly does appear that the officer in question used excessive force for an excessive period of time and none of the other officers involved did anything to prevent it.

The protests in US may be justified. The sympathetic protests in UK are more likely to create the problem in UK they are protesting about and become a self fulfilling prophesy.

Carolyn Jackson
Carolyn Jackson
4 years ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

No, the protests in the US are not justified. Idiots like that cause more division and hatred. The protests over this incident in the UK or anywhere else in the world are definitely not justified. The law should now be allowed to take its course.

Lucy Smex
Lucy Smex
4 years ago

George Floyd’s family’s attorney has claimed that there is an ongoing genocide of black Americans:
“The countless deaths of black men and women is a form of “genocide,” according to Benjamin Crump ” a civil rights lawyer who has taken on the cases of Martin, Brown, Rice, Arbery, and Taylor and will now represent Floyd’s family as well ” and the killing of Floyd follows the same pattern of systematic racism.”

From Tucker Carlson’s show last night, here are some statistics that have been kept by the Washington Post on all fatal police killings:

In 2019 there were 1004 police killings.
Of those, where the race of the suspects was recorded, i.e. 802:
371 were white
236 were black
The vast majority were armed. African Americans were more likely to be armed, but more white suspects were killed.
There were 10 cases last year where unarmed African Americans were killed by the police. In all but two, the officers were not charged as body cams showed they acted in self defence. Ten does not count as genocide. Neither does 236.

In 2013, (single victim, single offender) the murder statistics were:
3005 whites murdered. Offenders: 2509 white, 409 black
2491 blacks murdered. Offenders: 189 white, 2245 black

It’s less genocide, more suicide.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
4 years ago
Reply to  Lucy Smex

Yes, the real genocide is being practiced by Democrats and Progressives who encourage black women to have successive abortions. I am pro-choice, but the way these people celebrate abortion is utterly repulsive. There were more abortions of black foetuses in New York last year than there were births of black babies.

ericka CoMo
ericka CoMo
4 years ago
Reply to  Lucy Smex

Lies. Oh please everyone knows that stats are construed in favor of whoever is using them to make whatever argument. Who is tucker carslon? Your self-appointed bastion of truth? If all these unarmed whites are being killed by police how come there is no footage of such? Do whites not have cell phones in the US to ecord such atrocities? I have a stat for you according to Gayle King this morning – 9 unarmed black men are kiiled by the US police state every week. Here’s something you can provide us: A few names of unarmed whites kiiled by police. Not fiddled numbers via tcuker carsen. Names of unarmed whites shot by police. Say their names. Should we start with names of blacks killed by police in the last couple weeks alone? Try as you may you are on the wrong side of history. The racist american police state is no longer able to cover up its criminal police tactics. Quote any stats you want – the world sees.

markstrevett
markstrevett
4 years ago

“According to the charity Inquest, there have been 1,741 deaths in police custody or otherwise following contact with the police in England and Wales since 1990. If you dig deeper into the statistics, you discover that use of force is a feature in twice as many deaths among the BAME population as it is in other deaths in custody.” BAME people make up about 10% of the British population, yet they have been the assailants in about 50% of the police officers murdered in Britain since 1990. Might there be a connection? “Shockingly, not one police officer has been successfully prosecuted”Š””Šlet alone convicted”Š ” “Šfor deaths of this type since 1969” Why is that shocking? Why does it not indicate that in all these tragic cases, the police were generally acting lawfully? After thorough independent investigation, it was decided that there was either no criminal case to answer, or where officers were put on trial, (often with a lower amount of evidence than usual against them, but for political expediency) they were acquitted by a jury. Do police officers not deserve due process like the rest of us? Should a token 10% in these cases, be sacked or imprisoned, regardless of the evidence, so as not to shock you?

Russ Littler
Russ Littler
4 years ago

I,m getting increasingly sick to the back teeth of this accusation that white British people are “racist”. This country is probably one of the most tolerant in the western world, and yet we have clowns like this author who see racism in every facet of modern life. This myth is perpetuated by overtly anti-white racists such as Dianne Abbott and David Lammy who constantly push this perceived “victim” mentality. They have a huge racist chip on their shoulder, and it is further exacerbated by the liberal-left agenda driven Universities, and mainstream media who constantly try to inject a race angle to every single story. They even stated that the corona virus was racist. I mean…seriously? When we look at the laws in the UK, what we actually see is special dispensation, and “protectionist” laws in favour of black and Asian people (to the detriment of free speech for the indigenous people). So, who are all these “racists” who are suppressing black people in the UK? When does this happen? Who is doing it?. Which organisations are attacking black people in the UK? Where are they? What is their address?. Who are these white supremacists, this KKK types who persecute black people in the UK? I would submit that it is all an orchestrated, manufactured lie driven by the Marxist ideology to further divide, and break down cohesion in society. They are deliberately trying to cause racial divide.

John Cole
John Cole
4 years ago
Reply to  Russ Littler

I largely agree regarding most of your observations, but I would suggest you re-read the article.

Chris Taylor
Chris Taylor
4 years ago
Reply to  Russ Littler

I totally agree with you. I cannot see for the life of me why black people in the UK have not realised how they are being used by the left. They are literally using them as foot soldiers.

Douglas McCabe
Douglas McCabe
3 years ago
Reply to  Russ Littler

Just a small correction to your post – Dianne Abbott and David Lammy do not have a “huge racist chip on their shoulder” – they are simply professional politicians stoking up resentment among their electorates to further their professional careers among the black minority.
Such behaviour is the norm in multi-cultural societies when a cohesive minority reaches a critical size and begins to offer attractive political prospects to those who desire a life in the political limelight. Political leadership of minorities automatically requires the creation of greater divisions between the minority in question and the indigenous population than already exist. This allows the aspiring leader to be seen as ‘heroically’ serving their minority community, while quietly enjoying all the financial, and other benefits, that accrue to Party politicians in the UK. An easy, and well trodden, road to political success, although it isn’t good for the country, since it is integration that eases the problems of multi-culturalism – not more divisions and enmities.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
4 years ago

There does seem to be an improvement in the quality of the debate this time, This article is an example. That said, this may just be my tunnel-vision at work.

That said, I am wearily waiting for the left and the right to dredge up some argument about the British Empire in a bid to lower the tone.

wgeoff.56
wgeoff.56
4 years ago

There were positive and negative aspects to the British Empire. Overall, my personal opinion is that it did more long term good than harm. Most of the countries we left have some form of reasonably democratic parliament and generally a fairly independent judiciary today. That is true even in Pakistan despite the massive pressure there for sharia to be fully implemented.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
4 years ago
Reply to  wgeoff.56

Out of genuine curiosity: why say this to me? Why tell me this? What has this got to do with the current debate?

Paul Theato
Paul Theato
4 years ago

This is a subject, white racism or white silence on racism, including the sinister racist slogan “white silence = violence” that the far left (black and white) get busy promoting every time there is a tragedy such as the death of George Floyd. They have nothing to say on the situation affecting minority white farmers in Zimbabwe or South Africa though (state sponsored robbery, violence and murder). NOTHING, which kind of proves my point. The far left has nothing to gain from their defence.
There are white racists yes. There are also black and brown racists, but the people trying hardest to profit from the mournful death of George are the postmodernists (Marxists) who are attempting to sow division for their own political purposes. Jordan Peterson has done immaculate research on this (the myth of white privilege) and I would advise people to look him up.
I don’t like hugging people in general but let’s come together on the many things that unite us, rather than be divided on one thing alone, skin colour. It’s like being divided on what breakfast cereal you prefer.

Esmon Dinucci
Esmon Dinucci
4 years ago
Reply to  Paul Theato

Excellent post.

Paul Theato
Paul Theato
4 years ago
Reply to  Esmon Dinucci

Thank you Esmon. I appreciate that.

Douglas McCabe
Douglas McCabe
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Theato

A report appearing in the US media has said that a postmortem on George Floyd revealed that he died from the effects of a drug overdose. Apparently he was not ‘murdered’ as claimed in this article, and it should be remembered that Floyd was a career criminal who was involved in a crime when he died while being restrained by police.
It would help greatly if the media would refrain from inflammatory reporting before the full facts surrounding such incidents are known. I watched a YouTube video of a television news report on the death of another black man who was shot by a police officer. This white news anchor proceeded to conduct a trial of the police man as if he was a lawyer in a court room trying a criminal, making judgments about bullet trajectories, and insinuations that heavily implied the guilt of the officer.
How is it possible for the police officer to get a fair trial when such overtly biased reporting is being broadcast on television? I find this approach to news coverage in the US profoundly disturbing.

Chris G
Chris G
4 years ago

Ralph, I would like your thoughts on the fact that around 50% of homicides in the US are committed by black people whilst they make up around 15% of the population. Also approximately 90% of black homicides are committed by blacks. I know this doesnt fit the narrative, but these are facts and they paint a very different picture!

watsongd
watsongd
4 years ago
Reply to  Chris G

Is this relevant to a comparison of racism in the UK and the US?

Chris G
Chris G
4 years ago
Reply to  watsongd

Yes, because it is automatically being put down as racism. If the police officer had been black, would it have been classed as racism, of course not. Unfortunately 78% of police officers in the US are white, so hypothetically if 15% of the population are responsible for 50% of homicides and you have a 70% chance of the arresting officer being white, sooner or later this is going to happen, that doesn’t necessarily mean its racism. So instead of jumping automatically to racism, lets look at the facts. I am simply pointing out that the basis of the article is flawed, there is no evidence that this tragedy was racist.

Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
4 years ago
Reply to  Chris G

There’s no evidence it was intentional murder either. Police negligence, stupidity, lack of due care while restraining, and the suspect seems to have been on drugs and have had underlying health conditions. So almost certainly an accidental death, with police actions playing some undetermined part. But every article I’ve seen has no doubt it was a ‘racist murder.’ Very inflammatory language aside from anything else.

Sridhar Raman
Sridhar Raman
4 years ago
Reply to  Chris G

Would you care to elaborate this “different picture”?

Chris G
Chris G
4 years ago
Reply to  Sridhar Raman

Just because the police officer was white and the victim was black does not make this racism!

Sridhar Raman
Sridhar Raman
4 years ago
Reply to  Chris G

Why don’t you give us the numbers that need to happen before it can be considered racism?

And your data of 90% of black homicides are committed by blacks has literally no connection. Unless you are trying to extrapolate something that I don’t want to consider.

Chris G
Chris G
4 years ago
Reply to  Sridhar Raman

Sridhar, that is a silly thing to ask. My point I was trying to get across is, it isn’t as simple as just saying this was a racist event.

It absolutely has everything to do with it. The fact is white people kill far less black people than black people do, why do we not kick up a fuss like this when a black person kills another black person? Do their lives not matter? Is it a case of its black on black, so that’s ok, really! Now if this is something you don’t want to consider thats your choice.

A question for you, why do you think this was a racial motivated attack?

Sridhar Raman
Sridhar Raman
4 years ago
Reply to  Chris G

(I am ignoring the constant whataboutery in the comment and respond to the substantial bits)

Few points:
1. Why does black on black or white on black come into picture here? The cases are about COPS killing black people. I repeat, what is the connection?
2. If you look at the stats, blacks are 24% of people killed by cops, despite being 13% of the population. Why is that?
3. The odds of a black person being killed by a cop is three times more than a white.
4. There is no correlation between crime and cop killings of black people.

More importantly, this is not the only case that is under discussion. This just happened to be the one that broke the camel’s back.

Chris G
Chris G
4 years ago
Reply to  Sridhar Raman

1. Because this is being classed as a “racist” crime. Like I put in an earlier post 78% of cops are white and it is being used as a racist argument.

2. Because 50% of homicides are committed by black people. So 13% of the population commit 50% of homicides, think about that!
3. See answer no 2.
4. See answer no2.
I have answered your questions, now answer mine.
A question for you, why do you think this was a racial motivated attack?

Sridhar Raman
Sridhar Raman
4 years ago
Reply to  Chris G

Because there has been a systemic trend that the data shows, as explained by my previous reply. Your data on homicides is irrelevant, as that should have no bearing on how people are treated by the police. Simple.

Peter Kriens
Peter Kriens
4 years ago
Reply to  Sridhar Raman

Sridar. In statistics based on messy data like this, with extremely small occurrences (an unarmed black person has a 1/2,000,000 chance to die by the police, that is 1/30th the chance of being killed by lightning) one tends to measure differences in such small chances in magnitudes (factor 10), a rate between 2-6 is just not relevant, too much noise. In a true racist society like South Africa during apartheid, the rate must have been between 100-1000.

Ask yourself the question, does it really make a difference if your chance is 1/5,000,000 or 1/2,000,000? Especially since anybody can lower this extremely low chance to virtually 0 when you don’t do crime, like most women?

Men have a 10x higher chance to be hit by lightning. Is that sexist?

Shit happens, looking at the number, extremely little shit seems to happen in a society with 330,000,000 people and 400,000,000 guns. Since blacks in the US do disproportionally commit the homicides and other crimes, isn’t it likely they also get in touch the police disproportionally? I.e. their chance to be there when shit happens is just a lot higher?

s.blair
s.blair
4 years ago
Reply to  Chris G

Chris G, I would like your thoughts on the fact that most paedophilic crimes against children and most mass shootings are committed by white men and yet the police are not deliberately targeting them with violence and brutality.
What an absurd and senseless comment for you to make. Please don’t forget George Floyd was an unarmed black man as were so many others who have been killed by police, or so called police in the case of Ahmaud Arbery, in the past 12 months alone.
Are you implying by your figures that there is a degree of right on the side of police who commit murder in broad daylight?
If this is your argument where would you draw the line? Should all BAME people be open season for the police because someone of the same race as them has committed a crime somewhere in the world?
Admit it! It sounds like you think George Floyd got what he deserved.
Shameful!

Barry Wetherilt
Barry Wetherilt
4 years ago
Reply to  s.blair

I’m sure @Chris G can speak for himself, but I suspect he, like me, wonders why there is no outrage at the carnage that some communities reek upon themselves. I doubt many would condone or try to excuse the unforgiveable brutality of the Police in this and other instances, some of which you sight and others that involve those from all ethnicities, but the silence of the media and usual activist groups about the equally brutal and larger number of killings of blacks by blacks speaks volumes.

Chris G
Chris G
4 years ago
Reply to  s.blair

Safra, regarding the mass shootings and paedophilic crimes, I will take your data as being correct. How do you know the police are not targeting them with violence and brutality? I’m sure most mass shooters end up dead, that’s fairly brutal!

As regards there being any right on the side of the police officer, I have no view until all the facts are known. This is part of the problem, people have seen what they have seen and decided to be judge, juror and executioner. We have no idea what, if any events have taken place before the arrest to give the police reason to use the force they did.

No, all people should be treated the same.

No, I don’t think George Floyd got what he deserved, I will wait for the facts to be established before I have a view on that. But thank you for deciding what I think, and labelling me as shameful

Carolyn Jackson
Carolyn Jackson
4 years ago
Reply to  s.blair

That sounds like whataboutery and is irrelevant to Chris’s statement.

Sridhar Raman
Sridhar Raman
4 years ago

Interesting. If anything, the original statement by Chris was whataboutery. Not to mention, unrelated.

Peter Kriens
Peter Kriens
4 years ago
Reply to  s.blair

Safra, how many unarmed men died at the hand of the police in 2019? How many of those had no prior record or were being suspected of a crime like George Floyd and/or resisting arrest? The Washington Post says 41 of whom 19 were black. Where is the racism here?

Nobody, and really mean nobody, deserves to die like George, but in a country with 400,000,000 guns on the streets, are these incidents not inevitable?

Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey
4 years ago

Black Americans have, even so, attempted to effect change, or simply fit in with our white neighbours and colleagues, in ways that were deemed acceptable (polite, peaceful, not too disruptive or uncomfortable) by the wider society.

Seriously? A quick glance at crime rates, high school graduation rates, out of wedlock births, or welfare dependency (not to mention real life experience in a mixed race high school or living in an urban area in America) shows how ridiculous that statement is. Sure, some black Americans are hard working and respect themselves and the people around them, but a sizeable minority clearly aren’t.

Sridhar Raman
Sridhar Raman
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

What is the connection between “out of wedlock births, or welfare dependency” and anything that you were responding to?

David Uzzaman
David Uzzaman
4 years ago

The Americans must be extremely grateful that their forebears fought a long and bloody war to settle their race problems which is why they don’t have our problems.

nenegaffney
nenegaffney
4 years ago

What is Dr. Rhodes’ take on the killing of the 77 y/o retired police Captain, David Dorn, in St. Louis by looters?

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
4 years ago

Rhodes gives a highly slanted version of the Central Park incident involving black birdwatcher Chris Cooper and white dog-walker Amy Cooper. I run into a lot of dogs off their leashes in my own neighborhood jogs and I appreciate Mr Cooper’s irritation that Ms Cooper’s dog was off-leash but he took things to another level, approaching the woman when physical distance rules were in effect, and verbally threatening her dog. Then she took things to another level by phoning the police. I don’t think she was faking anything; she came across as a high-strung person who was genuinely, if unreasonably, terrified. In fact, both people behaved badly but Chris Cooper suffered no lasting damage while Amy Cooper lost her job and possibly her career. There are enough actual gutrenching incidents of brutal discrimination against black Americans to choose from. Rhodes showed very poor judgement in highlighting this one. I will read anything he writes with a lot more skepticism in future.

Sarah Lambert
Sarah Lambert
4 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Baldwin

I agree that they both acted clumsily. AC should have apologised and put her dog on leash and walked away. CC should not have carried on filming her.

T J Putnam
T J Putnam
4 years ago

My (white) relatives in the US convey sharply differentiated views on the present situation. For one half, it’s all very sad and a bit unreal, as race is not an issue where they work or in how they live. For the others however, the country is on the brink of civil war within and between communities. It’s important to bear in mind these differences and not only when we think about racism over there.

trevorgevans
trevorgevans
4 years ago

In line with a number of the other comments drawn in by Ralph’s article, I sense, feel that racism in the UK is, in general, being diluted. I look to the young to fully extinguish this evil as they mix more freely with all people and they hear more about how racism has caused misery, poverty, imprisonment and death than older generations believed or accepted was the case. So, I hope, the future will be better, more peaceful, where people are judged by the content of character not the colour of skin.

As for the USA, the racial problems of that nation are deeper than ours. In line with billions around the world, however, I feel that the death of George Floyd will prove to be a watershed event. The USA government needs to convert the current negative it is holding into a positive by enacting changes to ensure that a fairer society is spawned, one where all people can walk the streets and conduct their work and lives in peace and not be cloaked in fear or assailed by prejudice. If the current president adopted such a stance, he could create a path for himself that no one could have predicted……..this is perhaps too much to contemplate.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, we shall have to ensure that our leaders guide all of us to shun prejudice. We need to reject all practices where people are made to suffer because of skin colour. Apart from the moral unacceptability of such behaviour, practices such as these compromise the intellect of the perpetrators; it may be that pointing this out to such people may assist in the eradication of racial prejudice. In summary, I am at once sad, angry but hopeful.

Ron Bo
Ron Bo
4 years ago
Reply to  trevorgevans

I hope some good comes out of tragic situation. However identity politics forces us to think along class race and gender lines which in my opinion is very divisive.
as President Lyndon Johnson famously said we all shit in the same pot.
So let’s celebrate our humanity together not our differences.

William Cameron
William Cameron
4 years ago

How is making black lives matter by demonstrating in a highly packed crowd in the middle of a highly infectious pandemic? It would seem to be very dangerous for all participants particularly black ones if they are at greater risk.

Sue Sims
Sue Sims
4 years ago

Hold on – when I last checked (about half an hour ago) there were a dozen comments on this essay, not including Mr Harvey’s. Now none of them are here. What’s happening? Is it not allowed to disagree with the essayist (whose main argument appears to be on the lines of ‘We had to destroy the village in order to save it’, given that much of the rioting seems to have damaged black-owned homes and businesses)?

anon6484
anon6484
4 years ago

Well done, Ralph.

Are cubicle plankton/baby bougs so disembodied they genuinely believe that what happens on their screen is happening to them? Do they dress themselves based on the average temperature in the UK, or what’s happening outside their office?

I’ve been a prole too long to believe it’s anything other arrogance and sloth. It’s just too much effort to help locally; plus the dopamine hit from clicking to save the “world” feels so damn good.

Who’s going to dig the latrines and deliver the bandwidth and avacados when (insert Fascist/Communist/Devil here) is overthrown?

Me. And I’ll still have no union and used PPE.

John Cole
John Cole
4 years ago

Came across ‘Un herd’ due to a link posted on clean technia.
Quite impressed and I enjoyed this article….but not one sniff of the oppressed white female children who are being tucked under the carpet by the MSM, they were/are ‘slaves’ of a section of the ‘British community’
Now, I wonder if a section of the ‘white British community’ had done the same, would there have been the same ‘Deafening silence’?

The odd silence from the MSM regarding the questionable financial antics of the former labour ‘deputy leader’ is also distinctly ‘odd’

With the exception of the Times..who broke the story.

cjhartnett1
cjhartnett1
4 years ago

It’s quite a good and moderate article, but – to my mind-misses a couple of key points.
The paucity of language and inability to sift a difference between racism and racialism; between discernment and discrimination ( and the emotional loading of words like these) began the post modernist, identitarian socialist models of behaviour , description and policy that we now live with.
The journalism of attachment, preferring neutrality to objectivity was another key influence, and the rapid rush to judgement and reflex idiocy, violence has been exacerbated by social media, and left liberal AstroTurf agendas in search of getting the Good Rebellion.
Higher education exploded, but a lack of scientific method or hard history has also served the optimistic humanist take on personality, and how social grievance and groomed victimhood has oppressed the vulnerable and aggrieved. All grist to the liberal academic mill who do very well out of measuring calamity, and deconstruct everything but their own sinecures and car park perks at Bogstandard University( Faculty of Marxist diatribes and Remainstream Agitprop).
Finally, our wish to banish G-d, allow His People to nearly get Corbyn ; and complete wilful ignorance of biblical history, Jesus and His significance? Well, this is now a world where Beyonce gets the Black Power Chic gig at the Superbowl, whereas MLK is not quoted. He warned that if appearance and genetics were set to trump character and conviction, then it might not end well.
Welcome to The Pleasuredome. Richly deserved, this race baiting was once transcended by scripture exhortations like Galatians 3.28.. .but we’re way too smart for that aren’t we?

lectureqa
lectureqa
4 years ago

Broadly agree with the sentiments expressed in this article that racism in 2020 is very dissimilar to the USA and we do a disservice trying to equate the two. However there’s one key elephant in the room you’ve missed out – pre macpherson and post macpherson. Pre macpherson Britain was different to the USA but not totally incomparable. As a Black man I’d go as far as saying Britain up to the 90s was a parallel universe . Numerous examples exist in differences between 2020 and the late 90s – cop diversity, housing discrimination, restricted neighbourhood residence, overt racism, employment discrimination, violent murderous thugs who went p*** or n***** bashing, cop murders, community tension, media hostility to black people, overt racism in football, prominence of sink estates and neighbourhoods, prominence of the bnp/nf etc etc Britain in 2020 is like Disneyland compared to how it was 2 decades ago.

Alexandra Thrift
Alexandra Thrift
4 years ago

Blackpool, Torbay, Thanet, Scarborough, Cornwall, North Devon, Tendring and Torridge.( largest increase in unemployment benefit claims) Sorry but in my ignorance I must look up Tendring and Torridge. Luckily, my coastal town( Bournemouth) doesn’t begin with a T.

ruthengreg
ruthengreg
4 years ago

I worries me this case. This officer whatever else he maybe is not stupid. You have to fault the system that permits excessive violence. If any action results in death it is at least manslaughter and if permitted by the the authorities they are equally to blame. So when are they going to investigate corporate manslaughter?

Human Being
Human Being
4 years ago

You are part of the problem. When our parents came here there were Africans already here. They were afraid to go into the pubs. Very afraid of eh white people. My parent came from Jamaica, we had lived with white people for 400 years. We were old by our African brothers who traded with the Arabs. Just as Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers. My dad had to fight with his people so we could all go into the pub. Now we have fought for the little freedom we have here and many prospered from our, chivalry, we paid the price, the state attacked us, imprisoned us, shut down our musical form reggae musical artists were banned from entering the UK. I cod not attend my fathers funeral, he died in 2013, his body was taken back to Jamaica to be buried in the family burial ground. He came here on the windrush in 1948. I am the eldest son born in Jamaica came here when I was one. Although Theresa May burnt all the boarding passes, I had prove as I had my mothers original British Passport i which I was included, but alas they still refused to give me a passport. I was a IT consultant, who acted and played music I love to write but I have not worked for 10 years now, I was no longer allowed to, so no passport no driving license cannot get a bank loan to start a business what do you thin the government had in mind for me? I am a type 1 diabetic, truth is I am lucky I can breathe. I still have no passport, no driving licence or compensation. I am suppose to be dead right? It is God who kept me so when i\ rad your article i had to reply. You now nothing about what you are talking about. You are not eh son of a slave a term which Africans still mock us with as if we are not really black we been with the white ma too long right? Well you sold us, now you are commenting about our plight which you have no frt had knowledge about. Black racists exist too, academically gifted clever enough to weave bull shit into something that seems rational but has under neath a poison. Ask the sons of slaves what connect us to the American? We have a brotherhood, from Europe to southern America the Caribbean and America itself. We have a stake in the west which as fact clearly state our blood sweat and tears build America an Britain, we paid fr the industrial revolution, three of our women sent a white man to the moon. Like Joseph we hold high office int eh most powerful country int eh world .Africa cries for the return of her children whom his brothers sold fr glass beads. Comment on the slaves plight? Speak for us when your words are far from the truth and I can nly thi of one reason a black man who claims to be of Nigerian descendent could do the massa’s work for him, Divide and rule right? Divide the slave for we e foolish an d bot deserve the attention we are getting our plight is not the same a America if you are Bhuto this . We broke from the shackles the white man put o us and he admired us fro fighting for our freedom or else the whole world would not be in support of George Floyd. What have you done for us? How can one from the very people who sold us to the white man come and comment about something he knows nothing about becomes black when it suits him but you are not us, just being black gives you no right to interfere in the business of the slave and his former employer. You are selling Africa to the Chinese right now. You have a whole continent we do not the west is our home now. Yet you have a home you are here comment ing on our circumstances. The Asian man and the whit an know the African sold his own people tot eh white man. So ask before you put your foot in it. We and all the former slave have a brotherhood that you are clearly unaware of even the white man knows this. You should talk about ho rich Africa is and how Africans have been selling their expensive resources for pennys. This piece is cleverly written and vindictive, very racist shocked it was written by a black person I thought it was an NF article that is why I took the trouble to join to find your black. Well God kept the slaves we are blessed and we live better her than we would have in Africa so God in his wisdom saved us from the turmoil Africa faces today or why woudl everyone be running away to Europe? Get your facts right and were are the black writers? Are you the only one? Now one can see why white people have the completely wrong idea about us, Africans cannot tell you about the western black experience he id the selling we did the suffering and if you had asked for little more than glass beads and giving away gold for copper we may be celebrating together as brothers but I am an ex slave right? Just let me breath and take your knee off our throats. Black racist do exist black people who not wish other black people well. I write but I write facts not about things I have no clue about. Leave us slaves to comment about our own business. You are the problem.

Peter Kriens
Peter Kriens
4 years ago

Wouldn’t it have given some insight if the actual statistics were mentioned?

In 2019, according to the Washington Post database, 41 unarmed men were killed by the police of whom 19 were black. A black person has therefore a chance of 19/40,000,000= 1 in 2,000,000 to be killed by the police while being unarmed. In comparison, the chance to die of lightning is 1/60,000 or 30x higher. Having done no crime at all or not resisting arrest, this chance drops to virtual zero, as the zero women in this statistic indicate. These statistics have continuously improved over the past 50 years.

The US is a country with 330,000,000 people and 400,000,000 guns on the streets. Any incident is too many but some shit is bound to happen.

violentric
violentric
4 years ago

That’s an awful lot of pretty sophistry employed just to tell us ‘Bless your hearts, you silly things, but no thank you’.

Of course our situations are not identical, I don’t know who has claimed that they are or why you decided to make that the sentiment to rebuff. It is we who find ourselves in the position of needing or being expected to justify why we too are in protest when all that ghastly racism is a Transatlantic scourge. In response, yes we are saying that our country shares that disease whether or not all the symptoms are identical”the response of activism and visible, audible protest will always be the prescription because it’s how citizens (or ‘subjects’) make it known that we too have reached our breaking point; it will not cure all ills but it will call to arms.

Racism wears many different faces, true, as do those who will tacitly attempt to quell its opposition. Typically here those actors are less overt, instead of men in red caps we have ageing housewives contemptuously thumbing copies of The Daily Mail for their assurance that these angry black people are indeed just violent thugs looking to stir up trouble where for them, there was none.

Of course we then have the duplicitous opposition in the form of yourselves, patronising us with your disdain as is most palpable in your paragraph about the “certain type of black activist”, using your own soliloquous platform to undermine those tiresome voices and their talk of “trauma”. After all, if the “trauma” of the close descendants of slaves, isn’t a perfect analogue of the unqualified trauma of an abuse survivor then it deserves nothing but ridicule for the imperfections of its language as used to convey something harder to wave away without pedantry.

It all amounts to ‘Not here, not now, perhaps later but probably not’. It frustrates me that the United States had to have its George Floyd to get to where they are today, not least because of all the Georges that came before him, but all this intellectual road-blocking ensures is that we too will require that perfect atrocity to bring all but the swathes of your readership to the cause that should have been ours to begin with. I hope you read the comments beneath other articles on this site, “Had Floyd not committed a crime in the first place, none of this would have happened. But no marching/rioting on the subject of crime.” should tell the story – and had I left it to the regulars, it would be sitting at a majority approval rating.

So yes, it is worse over there, but we’re not looking to the West to say “At least we’re not that bad”, we’re looking only for solidarity and to put our own house in order.

Rob Arnold
Rob Arnold
4 years ago

Interesting read and valuable too. As you say the point is not to downplay issues in the UK but to emphasise the context is quite distinct. I have found myself frustrated by some of the debate in recent days as I felt it had been fraught in some parts with oversimplification.

To conflate the USA and UK situation is to oversimplify and obscure the nature of power in the uk and of discrimination here. As some have pointed out racism in the UK is not a black / white – it’s as likely to occurs between BAME communities as between them as white communities (Polish, Romania, Bulgarian, Catholic, Protestant, Irish traveler…). it is also a issue that intersects with class and speaks to the nature of power and inequality in the UK.

Given the degree to which we consume American culture this perhaps to some extent inevitable. There is a legacy of police racism in the country too. And while the situation is different there is naturally a senativty there. Meanwhile, there are real issues in criminal justice for example, with the over representation of black men in prison. Several aspects of the colonial past are especially under examined in the UK.

We have perhaps been complacent. However, I feel we have had up to now a much healthier attitude that the US and it would be a mistake to import their culture wars and particular the regressive and damaged way American’s approach race.

I have always been on the policaal left and anti racist yet, I have found some of the aspects of the discourse around the protest here unsettling. Perhaps, it is a issue mostly confined to social media. But a aspect of the culture developing that uses some of the tactics of the the which hunt and seeks to police who can talk and what they can say. Where attempts to discuss nuaices are treated threats.

Of course an indivuals perspective is experience laden but that does not mean they should be silenced. If we want a more preogresive society any movement must be open to all the voices of that society. it must not shame. All people must be able to speak there minds and be allowed to make mistakes without fear of vilification. If not they will simple pay lip service to a filmsy concenus while becoming silently resentful.

In particular, any discussion must not reduce people to crude demographics. An focus on only identity politics only and an overly agental approach where certain demcraphics are considered universally powerful ignoring the complex interaction of class, race and gender in uk society, risks creating not only bad policy but breading ground for frustration and ultimately bigotry

Tommy James
Tommy James
4 years ago

I fully agree with this article’s main argument. However, believe it or not, it is wrong to say that it’s mainly black men that are victims of police brutality. In Britain in the last ten years 85% of people (140 out of 163) who have died in police custody are white (Source BBC News Reality Check). In the US twice as many white as black people are shot to death by police (Source: Statista) For example this year 172 white people and 88 black people have been shot to death in the US. It is true that the proportion of black people killed by police is disproportionately large given the size of the black populations in both countries, but it isn’t true that it’s ‘mainly’ black men that are being killed by police.

Tommy James
Tommy James
4 years ago
djeffrey083
djeffrey083
4 years ago

As far as I can see the ‘Black lifes matter’ campaign is stirring up racism purely for the sake of it. Yes there are many white people who are racist against black people, but for every white person there are 2 black people who are racist against whites. People are on the streets in the UK protesting about black lifes matter when they have died in police custody, when the facts are that in the last 50 years in the UK out of all the people that have died in police custody only 8% have been black. So if you are white you are 12 times more likely to die when in custody.
As for using George Floyd as your symbol. Yes it was terrible how he died and something should be done against police brutality, but the violent actions against people, not just blacks. It sickens me when it is made out that GF was a saint, a fentle giant, a peace loving man, when in fact he was a thug who served 5 prison. a drug addict and led a home invasion where he put a gun to womans stomach and threatened to kill her ifshe did not say where her money was,The woman was later beaten about the head and body with a gun.

Until black and white people unite against a common problem, such as all people who die in custody, all people who are abused and victimized and not just black people of which are the smallest percentage then all you do is make even more people, both black and white, racists.
Anti racism feoups are not the cure of racism, they are the cause now

goldlion973
goldlion973
4 years ago

It is unfortunate that we are confronted with a swathe of european people discussing racism with air of knowledgeability despite the fact that they have no experience of it when it comes to these matters.

I think we should see it for what it is, either arrogrance, ignorance or a deliberate attempt to subvert discussions. Gaslighting. We should ignore them entirely. Their views have nothing on what my parents taught me about how to survive racism in Britain, nor the advice of my grandparents, or theirs for that matter. These are people who have read newspaper articles and have opinions on what others have experienced for some 500 years in various guises.Their contribution is largely moot and if not, antagonistic.

In regards to the discussion and the article, I fully agree that we as Black Britons should be more aware of the many differences in experience between ourselves and our A.American cousins but the article neglects that we are in Europe based on its colonial heritage and in that regard still suffer the ‘Jim Crow’ of imperial abuses, financially, politically and so on. Our families and friends are held in adverse and corrosive conditions, the Francophone African experience is something we have better relation to in that regard. Many of us in the CAribbean have family ties in Northern America and Canada but we should not forget the continued legacy of Neo-Imperialism and its state sanctioned violence in our respective countries when it comes to discussions about our expeirence.

Gordon Ruthven
Gordon Ruthven
4 years ago

removed

jcanyiam316
jcanyiam316
4 years ago

ANY FOOL- who try to compare the plight of American Blacks to Black People in the UK- SHOULD just go and live there to findout!!!
Racism in America is 10 TIMES worse than in UK, America has a bad gun problem which We don’t have here.
I Feel 10 times more safe in the UK than in the USA. I TRUST the English police/Law much more than the US.
Americans & politicians talk about terrorist- but THEY are THE BIGGEST terrorist in the whole World, since 1619 they’ve been SLAVING, murdering, Hanging, shooting, lynching INNOCENT People and getting away with it!!!
The number of People Americans have killed since slavery started in 1619- does’not even compare to the so-called terrorist organizations- Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Taliban!
The 13 Amendment was NOT WORTH THE PAPER IT WAS WRITTEN ON!!!
(IT WAS A JOKE)

Paul Hopwood
Paul Hopwood
4 years ago

Thank you for this article, which represents exactly the sort of brave yet balanced opinion that has been lacking from recent news coverage and social media. I found ‘Unherd’ through a link to this article, and am glad that I have. The murder of George Floyd was hideous, and hideous to watch. A looking glass has been held up to the continuing institutional racism in America, and, thank goodness, other developed nations have been able to have a good soul-search too. However, I agree that equating the American experience with ours is entirely without nuance, and so risks inflaming and over-simplifying the race debate in the UK. My personal thought experiment is this one. Imagine growing up as the child of one of the far-right ‘counter demonstrators’ seen this weekend. If we’re looking for the most blatantly racist members of UK society, these protestors might be an obvious place to start. How are the young minds of the children of that group won over? Not, I suspect, by the current hue and cry. The Runnymede Trust has published a great deal of research on the topic of ‘Race and Class’, and media commentators would do well to dip into it rather than just wrapping themselves in the Black Lives Matter flag and feeling the protective power of the serried ranks of social media warriors behind them. Poverty of ideas, opportunities and education cut across societies in the UK, and it is worryingly simplistic and/or inflamatory to allow an entire racial goup to be told that it is structurally privileged, or that their heritage is in the wrong. It won’t feel like that to many, nor will it help the cause of improving race relations.

As an example, I tell the story of my son’s school. It is in a deprived, racially mixed area of London, with no clearly dominant ethnic group. Black and white faces co-exist in the classroom, and the headmaster and most of the senior management team are black. To suggest that there is systemic racism within the school would be a complicated, not to say bizarre position to take. However, the school has struggled with ‘online learning’ throughout the Covid 19 crisis, to the extent that some subject departments have produced little or no work at all. Year 10 have been left floundering, and will be facing a lifetime of educational impoverishment due to the inability of schools like this to keep up with more nimble-footed competitors. Yet, the school was able to produce an online assembly of 30 mins in length, 27 minutes of which was talking about Black Lives Matter, almost exclusively within the context of American history. A whole-school competition was announced, encouraging the celebration of a black hero with the following aims:

– To encourage children/young people to be innovative and creative.
– To promote and develop an awareness and appreciation of diversity, citizenship, inclusion and respect for all.
– To help children and young people learn more about Black British History.
– To encourage young people take [sic] a pride in their heritage, to which their ancestors have contributed, and assisted in the development of modern Britain.

The first three points are, of course, entirely laudable. But the last? In the context of the statue debate, it rings a rather unfortunate note to a white pupil… Covid 19 will leave desperate damage in its wake, and the disadvantaged of all cultures will be disproportionately affected. When the shouting dies down, we can only all hope that if anybody has listened, then they have taken concrete steps towards race equality. The alternative is that the shoutng has been so unfocused, so clamorous, that the tone deaf might have lost their hearing altogether

ericka CoMo
ericka CoMo
4 years ago

I’m mixed race, (black/white) born and raised in the UK. I am considered and treated as black in the US. (The “mixed-race” thing in the US is a relatively newly accepted phenomenon in the US). I moved the the US to attend an HBCU from which I graduated in the 1980s. I’ve lived, schooled, worked and socialized in black communities in NY and DC (because that’s how the US is set up). I still live in the US and visit the UK on a regular basis where my family still reside.

It is a joke and an insult to compare racism in the UK to racism in the US. All MAJOR SYSTEMS in the US (financial, housing, health, education, legal, employment, etc.) are set up and operate to disadvantage black people. PERIOD. The same is not true for the UK. In the UK, we have prejudiced or racist people but systemic racism is not what the UK is built on. PERIOD. The UK is built on ELITISM and CLASSISM, those factors are endemic in British society. If not for the crappy weather, I would absoutely live in the UK where I can exist without the burden of always having to feel “black” and having to carry the weight of all that American society puts on us, simply based on skin color.

Rosy Martin
Rosy Martin
4 years ago

Superb article , Ralph. On the issue of deaths in police detention, there is another issue which hasn’t reached the public domain, but is pertinent. Many young black men use cocaine. Cocaine makes you paranoid and that makes you violent, especially if physically detained. Both cocaine and physical restraint raises your blood pressure. The two effects together put four BP through the roof which causes stroke or heart attack, both often fatal. It can be hard to prove at post mortem afterwards that they were coke users, and I think am right in saying that they don’t routinely do toxicology anyway. When I retired from Medicine 5 years ago they w re considering the possibility that this accounted for quite a lot of the deaths in custody and it seems plausible. My guess is that they haven’t gone public as the issue is so freighted with toxic overtones , but in truth the police are in an impossible position with violent black youth for the reasons given.

Nollaig De
Nollaig De
4 years ago

If any people in the UK see a parallel with the black people in the United States of America, it is the Irish in the north of Ireland
(the occupy six counties).
Man Woman and Child where shot dead by the British government security forces and people who forced out of their jobs by institutionalised bigotry, before and after the good Friday agreement. The area I live in still has one of highest numbers of unemployment in the UK. With a high suicide rates with problem’s that goes back to the troubles, that no one wants to go back to.
We will still have the old boy network kids for the boys.
Jeremy Corbyn was never in the right place at the right time. He was always there for the poor people in which he never forgets.
The best prime minister Britain never had.

William Cooper
William Cooper
4 years ago
Reply to  Nollaig De

Please do not equate the experience of Black people in America with the situation in N. Ireland 50 years ago. No Nationalist suffered the experience of the Jim Crow Laws that existed in America, if you know people who were forced from their jobs because of bigotry, then they should use the Equality Commission to get some justice for themselves.

gi.maestro23
gi.maestro23
4 years ago

How is racism not alive and well in the UK? Are we forgetting the horrible treatment of Meghan Markle by the British media and its citizens for the unfortunate happenstance of falling in love with a prince?Let’s not forget some of the very unsavory things some Brits had to say about President Obama and his family.

Monica Mee
Monica Mee
4 years ago

‘acknowledgment of the threat posed by young, black males,’.All young males go through a truculent difficult stage. I remember explicitly talking to my (white) son when in his mid teens, on how to talk and respond should he be stopped by the police. Several of his friends, had been stopped and frisked when doing nothing to attract attention beyond being in a group of three or four.

However young black males have good reason to be angry, and to be antagonistic when stopped by the police, they are more likely to be suspected, accused and arrested than their white counterparts. They also, usually, have had a poorer education, fewer opportunities and difficulties getting good jobs, so crime is often the only way these underachieving men can make a good living.

joshaw1950
joshaw1950
4 years ago
Reply to  Monica Mee

“They also, usually, have had a poorer education, fewer opportunities and
difficulties getting good jobs, so crime is often the only way these
underachieving men can make a good living.”

Yet young males of Chinese or Indian background seem to do rather well and seem much less likely to come into conflict with authority figures. There’s also the issue of the language barrier for some Chinese immigrants.

Juilan Bonmottier
Juilan Bonmottier
4 years ago
Reply to  Monica Mee

18.9% of Black households in the UK were made up of a single parent with dependent children (2019), the highest percentage out of all ethnic groups for this type of household.

Fatherlessnes is a major problem for this group -statistics on experience of fatherlessness (across all societal groups) is a clear predictor of poorer life outcomes in general but especially in relationships with authority figures (police, teachers, employers etc…).

There is strong evidence that father absence negatively affects children’s social-emotional development, particularly by increasing externalizing behavior.

Educational attainment is also affected, but interestingly findings suggest that the effects on educational attainment operate by increasing problem behaviors rather than by impairing cognitive ability. So intelligence is not the issue -it’s the externalizing behaviours which create the obstacles to success.