by danielbarker on 18 June, 2020
A Liverpool perspective by Richard Kemp
One thing we can do quickly to publicly fight racism is to enact a motion
unanimously agreed by Liverpool Council last year relating to those public places where our colonial past is glorified. However, for about the millionth time I can say that this should not include Penny Lane which was NOT named after a slaver!
A couple of days ago I saw a rather stupid debate about whether or not the UK is a racist Country. It appeared to depend on your definition of racist. What is abundantly clear to me is that there are four questions which can clearly only be answered in a way that shows that there is far too much racism in this Country:
Of course, the answer to all these questions is “Yes” but in different ways for different ethnic groups. The BAME community is made up of a number of different communities. Their experiences have a huge number of similarities but many differences. Differences in where people live; differences in educational opportunities; differences in cultural activities of those communities.
My ward in Liverpool has about a 10% ethnic minority population. Almost all of these are from families which have been in Liverpool, for a long time. We have communities in our City especially from West Africa who have been here for 8+ generations. They are very little different from anyone else who lives in this community. They are well educated, professional or own their own business. They are the typical product of immigrant communities where people arrive in hard conditions, take difficult, low paid jobs but strive to give their children and grandchildren a better life.
Increasingly though the communities are made up of professionals that we have asked to come here. 10 years ago there were few people here from Kenya. Now the City Region has a thriving Kenyan community most of whom came to take up senior positions in the NHS.
So people from different backgrounds, have different jobs, different levels of education and have many other differences so why do they all suffer the same prejudices?
When I look at those who are racists I see two types of people. The majority of racists are people who have poor jobs, poor educations and live in poor circumstances. They lash out at immigrants and people of colour because they are fearful and jealous. They blame those people for their own failures in life culturally, economically and generally. The second group of people are those who exploit the first group. From Moseley onwards some far-right politicians have sought to use the racist element themselves.
Behind them all you have a group who are absurdly attached to two beliefs. That the World was a better place when there was a British Empire and that Britain won World War II against Europe. In the first case they ignore the fact that most parts of the Empire had perfectly advanced civilisations before we imposed our thoughts and our way of life upon them. Large parts of the World were more advanced in the arts, literature and science than we were. In other parts of the World civilisations worked in different ways with indigenous populations finding their own ways to live lives that were economically and socially sustainable.
So if you believe, as I do, that much needs to be done and can be done to improve equality then there are a number of steps that can be taken and can be started very quickly:
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