One of my photos

(anti) racism

March 1st, 2005 · Posted by Skuds in Life/Politics · No Comments · Life, Politics

Last week Jayne and the kids were trying to buy some of those anti-racism wristbands. Every sports shop in Crawley had the same story: as soon as they get any in they sell out straight away. It seems to me that has to be an encouraging sign that plenty of people are concerned about racism these days. However, I do worry that many people are taking a limited view of it. They accept that its wrong to make monkey noises at a football match whenever a black player gets the ball, but do they really see that its a more general matter of having respect for people who are different? In some ways racism is just a subset of scapegoating. When awareness of racism is high, society seems to just pick another group to blame all its problems on. Asylum seekers and refugees are one of the main targets at the moment, and you only have to look at the letters pages of the local newspapers to see people routinely describing all travellers as animals.

I wonder if the writer of that letter really does think that. Do they really believe that the (admittedly antisocial) actions of some travellers means that we should regard them as animals, as somehow less than human? Dehumanising any group of people just makes it easier to extend that attitude to others. Maurice Ogden’s poem The Hangman illustrates perfectly how the consequences of this can escalate (also echoed by Pastor Niemoller’s famous quotation:

“In Germany, the Nazis came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was no one left to speak for me.”

Anyway, still on the same theme, on Saturday night we went across to Maidenbower for the Crawley Campaign Against Racism’s annual multi-cultural party. We went last year when we were invited as Deputy Mayor & Mayoress and signed up and paid our subscriptions on the spot. This year was all the better for being able to go as a family and not have to wear a suit. There was entertainment from some local asian dance groups, a band of rappers and a couple of flamenco guitarists, followed by food provided by the local Sikhs then a disco which was mainly bhangra and bollywood.

We all had a good time and I was pleasantly surprised to see that the kids all enjoyed the food as it was nothing like the Indian food I do from a jar of cook-in sauce – it was a lot more authentic, stronger and vegetarian. Charlie went up for seconds and even took a bag home to have the next day.

The only real problem with this event is that it is dominated by the Hindu and Sikh communities and has hardly any presence from West Indians, African or Moslems, but it is a start. Another group conspicuous by its absence was the local Tory party…

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