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Racism Essay, Research Paper

What does Paul Gilroy means when he argues There ain t no black on the Union Jack ?Racism is a broad topic. It covers a large area of the human mind and an expanse of society that includes culture, morals, and power. It affects those of the same culture and religion. The term race has no biological basis, yet some may attempt to differentiate between the biology and politics of racism. Racism has been defined, as a belief that race is the fundamental element of human attribute and capacities. Racism, this essay would argue, can be seen as marginal to the normal processes of life and endorses the view of black people as an alien presence.Gilroy illustrates the complexity of racial politics in England today. Exploring the relationships among race, class, and nation as they have evolved over the past twenty years, He highlights racist attitudes that transcend the left-right political divide, and challenges sociological approaches to racism. Gilroy demonstrates effectively that cultural traditions are not static, but develop, grow and change, as they are influenced by and adapting other changing traditions around them. Essentially Paul Gilroy argues that the form of Naturalism present in Britain is a celebration of England and Englishness or Britishness, and this systematically excludes Black People (page 12). Black people are seen as a problem; the core reasoning of racism, and victims incapable of active, considered behaviour. Paul Gilroy deplanes the separation of race issues from the social and political processes; he fevers his argument through the key issues of race and class, black community and the law, anti racism and black expressive culture.This essay seeks to outline Gilroy s main argument towards understanding what is meant by this exclusion for Black Britians.Questions of race and racism have come to occupy a central role in political debate in Britain in recent years. At one time definitions seemed to be straightforward; today many social scientists have defined race as a human group, which is defined by other groups as different by virtue of innate and immutable physical characteristics. These physical characteristics can be viewed as being intrinsically related to morals, intellectual, and other non- physical attributes. 1Antony Flew, (1992) argues that the characteristics by which the individual is seen as different are strictly superficial. He writes that factors such as pigmentation, shape of skull and skin are all on the surface. In other words, we are all the same beneath the skin. Gilroy challenges the absolute definition of race and values issues with Marxist analyses of class. Marx s views on power assumed a class structure with a foundation that is based on economic dominance of capitalist employers and property-less workers. He believed that Politics and the state reflected this structure. Marx viewed Governments to be a coercive model of authority. Many would argue that a fundamental part of the British system is based on class structure. Marx also stated that power originates primarily in economic production, he claimed that it permeates and influences all aspects of society. Marx suggested that the main wielders of social power are social classes, and government is essentially servant of the dominant social class. Gilroy views Marx s class analysis as accurate, by the assumption based on the factuality that certain institutions of British society such as the civil services, judiciary, and the armed forces are all run by the elite (page 27). Furthermore, until quite recently it excluded black people from its hierarchy structure. Gilroy sees this as a crisis for the representation of black people. The state emphases racial categories and therefore a struggle against racism are a struggle against the state. The problem of what connects one anti-racist element to the next is not recognised as a substantive political issue (p.144).Contemporary racism is rooted in national decline rather than imperial expansion. However, ties such as the trade union struggles and traditions of anti-colonial struggle have helped to form a black social movement that is not part of the traditional class struggle Anti-racism has become a program of affirmative actions to be realised by administrative means and a political phenomenon. Socialism has lost many of its 19th Century assumptions regarding the superiority of some cultures to others. However, most black people have a concrete grievance that is not specifically about race. Instead of biological essence, cultural differences such as family relations, housing, education and employment are considered as being the cause for any lingering inequalities and social disadvantages of the ethnic minorities. This can be seen in the report by 2 The Office for National Statistics (1996). The report shows that black, Indian and Bangladeshi unemployment rates are three times higher in comparison to whites. The CPAG (1990) concluded that every indicator of poverty showed black people to be more at risk than, white people to homelessness. This is due to high unemployment, low pay, shift work, poor social security rights and because they were more likely to be treated for Schizophrenia. 3Furthermore, studies have shown that 52% of black people are more likely to be diagnosing as schizophrenia, in comparison to 13% of white British. This could be due to different referral rates to hospitals by GPs or other psychiatric services. However, Hollingshead & Redlick (1958) found a much higher level of mental disorders in most unskilled and low social classes than skilled, clerical, professional and managerial classes. One might not expect any major differences in the distinction of mental illnesses e.g. schizophrenia and depression according to class or race. Nevertheless, due to the vulnerability of black & minority ethnic groups to homelessness, high unemployment and low pay etc., the findings could be support that they are more likely to be treated for schizophrenic because of racial segregation.However, Gilroy argues that black people who actually experience this type of discrimination are not always fully represented in society except as the objects of experts discussions. It is this conjecture, which forms the background for Gilroy’s book. Gilroy wishes to break the alternating current of racism between problem and victim status, an opportunity that he considers as lying in the possibility of representing a black presence outside these categories (page 13). Such a presence is to be located by looking at the history of race as an active category in the cultural concept. If anti racism is to succeed it must stop treating black people as victims and bring them into the debate as being fully capable of making choices about their own liberation.

Gilroy uses effective illustrations to support his arguments from studying anti racism leagues such as, rock against racism, and the Greater London Council anti-racism campaigns, of the late 70s, and the strategies of labour local authorities after 1981 about which he is largely critical. He considers Rock against Racism to have displayed a resolution missing from the Anti Nazi League, Rock against Racism had allowed space for youth to rage against the perceived iniquities of Labour authorities. The Anti Nazi League commensurate racism and fascism, representing the National Front as a false nationalism which threatens the purity of parliamentary democracy. Gilroy argues that Culture does not develop along ethnically absolute lines, but in complex, dynamic patterns of syncretism in which new definitions of what it means to be black emerge from raw materials provided by black populations (p13). Gilroy talks about exclusion, but in his discussions of black expressive culture, he examines the black social movement. Black expressive culture for Gilroy is an achievement for Black people, which draws its influences from black America as well as the Caribbean and has had drastic influences in urban Britain (p.68). Especially through its youth culture, this can be seen in style, dance, dress, language and music. However, the black cultural movement, through its plurality, is outside the nation state. Its struggle involves the community and locality as well as race.Gilroy suggests that this is a poor modern version of anti racism struggle and uses the riots of Broadwater Farm (1988) as examples.He also points to the Scarman report (1981) which seemed to set the seal on black exclusion by referring to black struggles in terms of family structure and lifestyle that creates a predisposition towards violent protest. The law is at the core of the nation state and represents national identity. Gilroy argues that Black people are however seen as a problem. Black crime is seen as part of black culture, black criminality is seen as proof of the incompatibility of blacks as British. Gilroy discusses the evolution of race as a policing problem, one largely missing until the rise in mugging in the middle 1970s. In 1985, Sir Paul Condon triggered a row when he urged ethnic community leaders to recognise that young black males were responsible for most muggings in London. Roger Graef et al. argued that racist attitudes are wide spread among police officers. He concluded that the outlook of the police was actively hostile to all minority groups. Roger Graef argument can be backed by studies from 4The Institute of Race relation which shown that black people form over one quarter of all stops and searches in the Metropolitan police area. The report also shows that stop and searches have increased by 21% from 1996/97 to 1997/98. Furthermore, the report also claims that the black people are 7.5 times more likely to be stopped and searched and 4 times more likely to be arrested than white people. It could be argued that police stop and search can be seen as a convenient method of policing, especially in inner city and black areas. However, given the nature of the police as an institution, and the racism within the British society in which it operates, stop and search is bound to be seen in a racially discriminatory manner.Gilroy debates that Urban disturbances in Britain since 1976 are seen as a race problem. An example of this is the summer of 1981 when Brixton became the scene of rioting which was put down to racial tension in the inner-cities. However, it could be argued that in all these cases of race rioting, (Brixton) white people were involved and it was more of a community struggle than a racial war which goes to support Gilroy s argument of poor example of modern anti racism.Gilroy argues for a radical overhaul of class in the league of race. Gilroy s argument holds a strong point for black people and Marxist views on the class structure such as when we look at the top jobs held in British society such as: bank managers, judges and company directors, where black people seem to be left at the bottom of the ladder. Black people need to be a part of the British social class and treated as equals in all aspects of British life. Gilroy would like issues of race to become part of the social and political process, and not separated from them. This essay argues that the British society believes they are all united by a common culture but are separated by language. The truth is that the British have adopted much of the ethnic minority language but have failed to understand how different the cultures are. Nevertheless, the British find confirmation of their culture and the superiority they feel they have gained over the black population. Yet, they live their lives in a wash of bizarre practices to which they are blind to other cultures.Black British define themselves as a Diaspora (which goes to show that they believe themselves to be a part of the British society and are dispersed all over Britain) and have already influenced white urban audiences in urban Britain. Anti racism needs to take the possibilities of black struggle aboard, they need to understand black people and their culture and include them more in the British society. However, Barry Richardson wrote, To be black in Britain today is to be different from being white. Differently valued, differently treated in a thousand ways .British national identity as represented by its national flag, persists in excluding Black Britians. Gilroy s argument There ain t no Black in the Union Jack presents a powerful argument to illustrate this.Paul Gilroy s book is probably intended for an academic audience but is of immense interest to the everyday reader who has an interest in the everyday struggles of the black people in British society. More specifically, Gilroy is trying to clear away the harsher class analysis in beating back the social stereotype of black Britains. He finds temporary, historical, and economic awareness of racism as signs, which show a healthy expressive culture refusing mediation and creating urban spaces within which the black identity can be created and preserved.


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