One of my photos

Crawley Campaign Against Racism

September 28th, 2006 · Posted by Skuds in Life · No Comments · Life

On Saturday the family made its annual visit to Maidenbower for the Crawley Campaign Against Racism's International Party.

This year is the 30th anniversary of the organisation, and I suppose it has to be counted as a success. A couple of speakers referred to the fact that Crawley has well-integrated ethnic minorities with no ghettos or serious friction.  I think that is generally true, but no reason to sit back and be complacent: the BNP vote has been rising over the last few years and planning applications for any sort of temple usually attract far larger crowds of objectors than a christian church of similar size would.  Apart from that, we do all seem to get along OK here. Even the arrests of several Crawley muslims in connection with plotting to blow up Bluewater or the Ministry of Sound did not result in any real trouble.

The party was much the same as in previous years, with a few significant differences. Firstly our MP, Laura, was not there for the first time in many, many years as the party clashed with the  Labour conference and she was up in Manchester.  Another difference was that the food was supplied by a catering firm instead of being done by the local Indians.  The significance of that was that the locally-prepared meals have always been vegetarian, while this year we had some delicious meat curry. I do like the vegetarian curries, but it was good to have a change, and it did give the local communities a break from the cooking.

Another change was in the entertainments.  We still had the always imperssive bhangra dancers and drummers and other Indian dance, and we had the English brothers who play flamenco guitar, but this time around we also had a group of African dancers.

They were all young girls, who probably need a bit more practise, and the music sounded more Jamaican than African to me (sounded a lot like Elephant Man actually) but it was great to see them there.

The Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan and other Asian groups in Crawley are well-established and have built up a lot of facilities for their community over the years.  Africans are much more recent arrivals who have not got themselves organised as much yet. There are good reasons for that: they do not all come from the same countries so there is a mixture from Nigeria, Gambia, Ghana, Zimbabwe and a dozen other countries which must make it harder to get together, but this year there seemed to be a lot more Africans.

This is a good thing. The CCAR parties have tended to be dominated by the Asian communities. They have tried to encourage everyone to join but it is obviously taking time for it to become completely representative. Having a greater proportion of Afro-Caribbeans helps to make it more so. The only real absence was the Crawley Muslims.  The party was held on the eve of Ramadan so the timing was  not great and might explain thevery low number of muslims present.

Another under-represented group was the local Conservative party. I counted at least 14 members of Crawley Labour party  and I know another handful who would have been there if they did not have to be in Manchester. There were two local Tories there – the Mayor and her husband who were there in an official capacity. I don't think this is for racist reasons though: I have noticed the same thing at other events as various as the Crawley Folk Festival and the cycle races.

It was a good evening though, and we even won a big box of biscuits in the raffle. As always the emphasis was on having fun, despite the serious aims of the organisation, and the gloriously informal and friendly atmosphere made sure that it was fun. I would have blogged it all a lot earlier had the server not been down most of the weekend. 

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