|Racism is making an unwelcome resurgence|
The racially aggravated abuse of Mauro Demetrio by PC Alex MacFarlane is one of a string of abuses gaining coverage in the media. Add to that those who have taken to Twitter to abuse black football players from Fabrice Muamba to James Perch and we have a situation in need of swift action. What is frustrating is that in the wake of the Evra/Ferdinand affair(s), few, Twitter abusers without the requisite institutional backing aside, are actually being held to account for their actions. Months after convictions were finally gained in the Stephen Lawrence case, the fact that PC MacFarlane has not been held to account is a symbol that we can not drop our guard.
This leads to one suggestion. A study by the LSE’s Alan Manning on sense of belonging among minority ethnic and white British communities argues that Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities say they have a strong sense of belonging to Britain and their local community, despite factors such as residential segregation. It is the white British respondents who reported a lower sense of belonging, especially when asked if they agreed if one can belong to Britain and maintain a separate/religious identity. In one sense, the integration strategy follows this line of logic, it gives precedence to these anxieties of the majority population, without advocating policy that diffuses them, dispelling myths about migrants and speaking in clear terms about issues of integration, legislation and identity.
A related point has been made that Government policy on multiculturalism has never been the heavy-handed and deep set of prescriptions we are made to believe it is. The suggestion here is that it has failed because it has not been applied liberally enough. Controversially in London, one of the most diverse cities in the world, should be implementing substantive policies and programmes that address intercultural relations between minority ethnic groups, tackle racism and impact on the real, material circumstances of belonging – education, criminal justice, access to health, jobs and physical security. At the same time, this should reject the idea that celebrating difference widens the gap between us all.