Newhaverin Leith and life

11Aug/112

I’m not racist but…

The riots in England generated a lot of conversation and chatter among my friends and acquaintances on social media channels. Generally, like in the press, there were two camps- the camp that that put blame at the door of a society that condemns poor communities and their young people to continuous generations of hopelessness (Camila Batmanghelidjh wrote about this beautifully) and the camp that sees punishment and threats of humiliation for young people disrespecting their communities as the solution to the problems, like what we're hearing from David Cameron. But there is something I have seen coming from my personal circles that I haven't seen so much in the press and that is unmitigated racism. From the mouths, Facebooks and mobiles of the people I would consider the least likely offenders came messages that were meant to be funny or profound but really were straight up racist. This confused me for all kinds of reasons- the profiles of riot offenders spanning the spectrum of our society and institutional racism perhaps being at the core of the riots among them.

Writer and radio broadcaster Shalom Auslander says there are so many reasons to dislike people, why go with colour? So when you feel your inner racist coming through, what is it you really dislike?

 

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  1. Regarding the riots, my first thoughts were that the rioters and looters were likly to be made up mostly of people who are not in employment and living off the state.

    And thats something I generally really dislike about people, those who choose a path in life, fully aware of the consequences, Ie, setting out on a life of drug or alcohol addiction, which means they will be dependent on the state. Ofcourse I dont have an issue with those who are out of work and activily looking or properly ill/injured so cant work, but I dont think that extends to drug addicts because thats a lifestyle choice in my book.

  2. I like data and at the moment all I have are anecdotes. I’ve seen four people (or their families) who’ve been arrested. Two were black, but two were practically albinos – I mean seriously white. I’m not sure what the final ethnic grouping will end up as, but unless it’s vastly disproportionate from the communities in question I think we can rule out race as an issue.

    I think respect is a key issue. These people have no respect for their communities, for private property or for themselves. Otherwise why would you make yourself a thief for a tub of whey protein, three jars of body butter and some DVDs? Disenfranchisement isn’t new and – here’s the difficult thing – you may not be able to build a society in which *some* people don’t feel like they can steal and vandalise.

    The answer isn’t the big society, but it might be the kind of things a big society is supposed to achieve. Proper facilities for young people that keep them physically active and teach them practical skills, parents who take an active role in the education of their children, more resources into education and, where someone doesn’t want to stay on at school or go to university and they can’t find a job, national service to teach them personal discipline, with an element of industry-led skills training and apprenticeship schemes.

    I think that would do wonders and I know it would cost a fortune.


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