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Confused, Misused And In The Dark

The photo above shows a man walking down the street past a wall that’s been sprayed with some graffiti - it says ‘Powell For P.M’. I’d imagine that most people under a certain age would completely miss the relevance of this image, having no idea who this Powell was. Maybe they might pick up on the clue that it has some reference to race, as the man in the picture is black, but without understanding the context its message has been lost with the passage of time. Anyone looking at it in the years following the milestone date of April 20th 1968 would be left in no doubt of its potency, but whilst children in British schools are now taught about Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and key aspects of the US Civil Rights movement during the 50’s and 60’s, the story of what happened in this country, following the mass immigration of the post-war period, remains a largely hidden history. Without the knowledge of what went on back then, it’s impossible to properly understand what’s going on now, for Enoch Powell MP, and what he had to say in Birmingham that fateful April day almost 44 years ago (which, at the time, a Gallup poll told us was supported by almost three quarters of the UK population), set the agenda for the race debate in this country – a heated debate which has very much reignited in the past few months.

The issue of racism is well and truly back in the news following recent events - the Stephen Lawrence trial, the murder of Anuj Bidve, an Indian student in Salford, the ‘My Tram Experience’ YouTube clip, the Suffolk ‘gollywog in the window’ case, the Diane Abbott ‘divide and rule’ tweet, and, of course, a whole series of football related incidents, which have blown-up to a level that few could have envisaged when I made my  ‘Racism In English Football’ post just a few months ago, at the end of October: http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2011/10/racism-in-english-football/

Amidst all the ensuing debate, one of the themes that has become apparent is that there are a lot of people in this country who seem to be totally unaware as to what constitutes racism - there’s a genuine confusion as to which words would be deemed racially abusive and which wouldn’t. It’s this lack of education that needs urgently addressing, for, in a zero-tolerance society, ignorance is not going to be accepted as a valid excuse.

"You’re never going to have any kind of understanding of what’s going on in black people’s lives unless you actually get out and meet some.” Anderson Hinds 1991

This is a quote that gets right to the core of the matter. If you want to find out what would be insulting to someone of a different ethnicity, ask them. It’s this type of dialogue that’s essential if, as a society, we’re going to properly clarify things, leaving everyone in no doubt as to what’s unacceptable in this multicultural nation of ours.

Anderson Hinds, aka Dangerous Hinds of the Ruthless Rap Assassins, spoke those simple, yet still substantial words of wisdom in an BBC radio interview, which I sampled for the crew’s 1991 album ‘Th!nk – It Ain’t Illegal Yet’.  Anderson would teach me much about the prejudices that black people faced in their day to day lives back in the late 80’s / early 90’s when I managed and produced the Assassins, both via his lyrics and, even more importantly, our personal interaction.

My own take on the issue of race has mainly come from listening, directly and indirectly, to what black people have to say - initially via the lyrics of songs from the 60’s and 70’s. In 2009, Berlin based DJ and writer Finn Johannsen asked me to pick a record that has strong personal associations for his ‘Sounds Like Me’ blog. I went for ‘Ball Of Confusion (That’s What The World Is Today)’, a key single of my formative years by The Temptations, and, as I mentioned in my blog post about this last April here, he came back with a whole heap of insightful questions that really caused me to get deep into my reasons behind this selection, including my views on its socio-political relevance, which outlined my earliest memories of how issues of race affected me:

I was just a kid, aged 10 when this was released, fresh out of primary school, but, despite my obvious naïveté, tracks like this, along with others including Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’, Marvin Gaye’s recording of  ‘Abraham, Martin And John’, Edwin Starr’s ‘War’ (another Norman Whitfield / Barrett Strong composition, originally recorded by The Temptations, Starr’s version also produced by Whitfield) and even stuff like ‘Love Child’ by The Supremes and Clarence Carter’s ‘Patches’, really struck a chord with me at the time and got me thinking about deeper issues. This is a perfect illustration of the power of music to inform, although the main connection was on an emotional rather than an intellectual level – Soul music, even when the lyrics weren’t really saying anything poignant, could still affect me in a profound way.

I remember thinking ‘how can these people be treated so badly when they make such wonderful music’. I was certainly aware of the racist (or racialist as they said back then) attitude that black people were somehow lesser than whites – Enoch Powell’s infamous ‘Rivers Of Blood’ speech had taken place a few years earlier and I’d no doubt picked up on the race / immigration debate via the TV, newspapers and overhearing peoples’ conversations on the subject, it was certainly a hot potato of an issue back then.

Although I didn’t know any black people at the time, unlike many others of my age I fortunately wasn’t burdened with the ignorance and prejudice of the previous generation. I never heard any racist remarks from my family, to the contrary, my father was a big boxing fan and his hero was Muhammad Ali (going back to when he was still Cassius Clay), so my own first impression of a black man was totally positive.

I think it was my sister who explained racism to me, and the whole thing crystallized via these remarkable records, which connected with me on a deeper level than the music by white Pop artists (which I was also very much into) because I realized, at a very young age, that this Soul music was tied into a greater struggle.

Full interview: http://www.sounds-like-me.com/news/rewind-greg-wilson-on-ball-of-confusion/

The next part of my personal education came via one of my biggest heroes, the late great Richard Pryor, who, back in the 70’s, told it like it was in his seminal stand-up routines, which boldly punctuated the laughs with hard hitting truths. Uncompromising in his examination of racism, Pryor didn’t pull any punches – an ultra-streetwise teacher, he was a massive influence on all who followed - Eddie Murphy, Bill Hicks and Chris Rock included.

His live albums weren’t released in this country, so most people in the UK knew him via his acting appearances, especially those opposite Gene Wilder in the comedies ‘The Silver Streak’ (1976), ‘Stir Crazy’ (1980), and later ‘See No Evil, Hear No Evil’ (1989). These were a world apart from his no holds barred live recordings, which I discovered when I met English DJ’s Nicky Flavell, Paul Rae and Primus, during the month I spent in Skien, Norway in 1978. We would often sit in their accommodation listening to Pryor’s albums, ‘That Nigger’s Crazy’ (1974), ‘Is It Something I Said’ (1975) and ‘Bicentennial Nigger’ (1976), which they’d picked up on their travels. Before I returned to the UK I’d copy these to cassette

His ‘Live In Concert’ performance, from Long Beach, California in 1979, is described by many as the greatest stand-up routine ever recorded, which is something I’d certainly concur with. This was broadcast on Channel 4 soon after the station launched in 1982, and I managed to capture it on my newly acquired video player. That VHS tape was played within an inch of its life, and I could probably still recite the entire show word for word. I eventually replaced this about 7 or 8 years ago with a pristine re-mastered DVD recording – just checked on Amazon and they have copies for a ridiculously bargain basement £2.99: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Richard-Pryor-Live-concert-DVD/dp/B0002475ZC

Pryor’s scattergun use of the N-word helped to disempower it as a racist slur, the black community claiming it as their own, although later, after a trip to Kenya, he swore he would never use the word in his stand-up routine again. He recalled; “When I was in Africa, this voice came to me and said, "Richard, what do you see?" I said, I see all types of people." The voice said, "But do you see any niggers?" I said, "No." It said, "Do you know why? 'Cause there aren't any."

His book, ‘Pryor Convictions’, is a must read, and his recordings, both audio and visual, are a lasting document to black self-awareness throughout the harsh and turbulent realities of the post-Civil Rights period.

Back to Anderson Hinds who, along with Kermit and his brother Carson, taught me much about institutional racism (a term coined by Black Panther, Stokely Carmichael, in the late 60s), which I witnessed up close during the years the crew was signed to EMI. By 1990 / 1991, when their albums were released, the racism was less overt, but scratch slightly beneath the surface and you saw the obstacles that were still continually placed in their way. Changing the minds of individuals is one thing, but changing whole systems and organisations takes a lot longer.

Anderson had a very firm but fair way of looking at things – he was strong in his condemnation of racist action in its various forms, but understood that much of this was purely down to ignorance. He’d give someone a second chance, but not a third one.

His lyrics, especially those on his best-known compositions, the singles ‘Justice (Just Us)’ and ‘And It Wasn’t A Dream’, are testament to his social insight. ‘Justice’ deals directly with the issues of institutional racism that affected the black community, whilst ‘And It Was A Dream’ was a heartfelt ode to his parent’s generation, and their naïve belief that emigrating to England would bring them a better life (in 2006 it’s quintessential Englishness was recognized when Mojo Magazine named it as one of ‘The 50 Greatest British Tracks Ever’, alongside classics including ‘Penny Lane’ / The Beatles, ‘Itchycoo Park’ / The Small Faces, ‘God Save The Queen’ / The Sex Pistols, ‘Wuthering Heights’ / Kate Bush, ‘Ghost Town’ / The Specials and ‘Common People’ / Pulp).

I’ve written about ‘And It Wasn’t A Dream’ elsewhere in the blog, in last year’s ‘Killer Album’ here and ‘Where Were You In 1990?’ here posts, but I should draw attention to a key line in the track, where he’s talking about how people who were renting out accommodation back then would put signs in the window saying ‘No Irish No Blacks’ (and, for full dehumanising impact, sometimes throwing in ‘No Dogs’ for good measure). By highlighting this, Anderson referenced the fact that, whilst black people couldn’t avoid being subjected to racial insult, exactly because of their skin colour, racism wasn’t exclusively aimed at blacks. Although the Irish could blend in as far as skin tone was concerned, the moment they opened their mouths they also opened themselves up to a barrage of abuse and the threat of violence. This was a shared experience that many people of Irish descent had never previously considered. Marian Buckley, then a writer for Manchester’s City Life magazine, whose parents were Irish, spoke eloquently on the subject in an interview filmed for the 1991 Channel 4 documentary about the Rap Assassins, also called ‘And It Wasn’t A Dream’ – her incisive words can be heard between 3.24 – 7.03 in the clip below:
http://youtu.be/IRFDIsPL7cI

You can watch the video to ‘And It Wasn’t A Dream’ here:
http://youtu.be/2G6Lzm5SZSg

Although racism wasn’t prevalent in my home environment, there was no avoiding it in the schoolyard where it was within earshot right from the get go, via the children’s counting rhyme ‘Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe’. In this way, words and phrases can be planted into your mind, words that you don’t understand the full weight of until later down the line, when you realise that they’re not quite as harmless as they appear on the surface and carry a much more sinister undertone once you take time out to stop to think about them, or when others point out your unintentional insensitivity.

Back in 1983, at a time when I was fully embroiled in the black scene, I remember an instance with Kermit, in the pre-Rap Assassins days, when he was a member of the later to become legendary Manchester breakdance crew, Broken Glass, who I then managed (in addition to my DJ work). I love him to bits, but, by nature, Kermit can stretch your patience to the limit and, one time, whilst I was trying to get him to hurry up for something or other, exasperated, I said to him ’c’mon Kermit, play the white man’, which was a phrase that I’d never realised had racist connotations, despite the fact that it’s so obvious once you consider it. I’d always though that it was purely a quirky way of saying ‘c’mon, be fair’.

Kermit didn’t say a thing, but just looked at me with raised eyebrows. The penny didn’t drop for a couple of seconds and, confused, I asked ‘what?’ He still remained stony silent. Then I got it – it was like looking from the other side of the mirror for the first time. I immediately apologised, but there was no bad feeling – he understood that there was nothing untoward meant by my comment, but by the same token I needed to sink into my skull the reason why this is a term that would no longer pass my lips. ‘Indian giver’, is another example - this goes back to the European settlement of North America in the 1700’s, and implies that Native Americans weren’t to be trusted, as they’d give you a gift, but then want it back.

Then there was a time that my friend Christine Quarless picked me up on using the term ‘half-caste’ in reference to someone of mixed-race (or, as others prefer to describe themselves, dual heritage). This was a surprise for me because I’d heard plenty of black people use the term myself. As someone of mixed parentage, she pointed out the negative association with the term, dating back to colonialism. The fact she found it personally offensive was enough for me to know that whoever might use it, white or black, it wouldn’t be me any longer.

What gets me is when people try to argue these points with someone who’s telling them they’re affronted, more or less accusing them of over-sensitivity, which is pretty belittling to say the least. It’s those people who are but an embarrassingly patronising breath away from repeating another much quoted children’s rhyme, which, as the years go by, we come to realise, like Santa and the Tooth Fairy, belongs to that more innocent time in our lives  – ‘Sticks And Stones Will Break My Bones But Words Will Never Hurt Me’.

Once you have the knowledge that the words you use would be regarded as offensive to some people, by continuing to use them, even in the company of those who wouldn’t feel personal insult, is a knowingly racist act.

It’s all about education - the germ of insult is largely spread in ignorance, and few of us can claim never to have spouted out opprobrious shit about someone who doesn’t look / talk /act the same as we do. It’s only when we feel shame for this type of conditioned behaviour that we can begin to combat it in ourselves, de-programming whatever it was in the past that would make such inappropriate words come of our mouths.

Whether people like it or not, Britain is a multicultural nation and will remain that way. It would do us well to try to comprehend the trials and tribulations of our fellow citizens who’ve suffered, and continue to suffer abuse and discrimination because of their skin colour and / or religious differences. Only then can we set about the task of fully integrating, embracing diversity and building communities where all are allowed to properly contribute in an atmosphere of mutual respect. This open-mindedness and human empathy would surely serve to enrich our culture no end as we contemplate the fresh challenges of the 21st century.

Rivers Of Blood Speech Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rivers_of_Blood_speech

Ball Of Confusion Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ball_of_Confusion_(That's_What_the_World_Is_Today)

Richard Pryor Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Pryor

And It Wasn’t A Dream Lyrics:
http://www.rapassassins.f9.co.uk/lyr_wsnt.htm

Multiculturalism Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multiculturalism

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23 Responses to Confused, Misused And In The Dark

  1. Simon (@SimonJ68) January 13, 2012 at 1:05 pm #

    Excellent read.
    Great work

  2. Steve January 13, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    Thanks for that Greg. Great read. Real depth and meaning...

  3. mat January 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    Well done Greg.

  4. Gavin January 13, 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    Excellent post Greg.

  5. Derek Kaye January 13, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    Greg,
    What a fantastic piece.
    There are many thought provoking references that are well observed and really hit home.
    I for one have used many of the terms cited without a thought of any intended racism in my head, and I agree, it's down to education and de bunking the confusion, and it really can be confusing.
    I can see how people would get it wrong when a black guy can call his friend his n***** but a white guy couldn't use the same term to the same friend . . here's where explanation and exploration of what's acceptable need defining.
    As you say, you may not know it's offensive until you're told it is, or it's explained.
    I also liked the reference to Anderson,"he'd give them a second chance but not a third" because there has to be that tolerant allowance through the course of education.
    Let's hope with all the recent high profile events that some forward thinking good can prevail.

    Well done !

  6. Kerry Jean Lister January 13, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

    Brilliant.

  7. UniteUs January 13, 2012 at 3:44 pm #

    respect!

  8. Michael January 13, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    Interesting post...its just a shame you still have to write about it in 2012.
    I tend to refer to people with reference to their land.
    eg Indian, middle eastern, asian, yank, aussie, scot, dutch etc...
    Although, some people get touchy about that.
    Physically, we are the same, its just a matter of colour pigment.
    Culturally, we are all very different.
    The issue what makes me angry is how little respect we give to people with mental health problems. I have lived on the european mainland and its just the same there.

    It all comes down to education and allowing bullying to prevail.
    If you can differentiate and cause weakness, idiots tend to do it 'cause they think it clever.

    Life should be a celebration, yet it always seems to be a battle, a struggle of power...maybe one day, the penny will drop.

  9. Naomi January 13, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

    Great post, Greg, and a really thought-provoking read. I also found your reference to Anderson being willing to give a second chance but not a third really interesting - it is this dialogue and education that can surely have the most profound impact on individuals and communities. We can only hope that as this education has its effect, people's ignorance and racist attitudes will become as much a thing of the past as the points in history where some of the phrases you cite were coined.

  10. lec January 13, 2012 at 4:26 pm #

    I remember watching various Richard Pryor concerts (some at yours) and I have never felt comfortable with the "n" word. It pains me to hear it and although I understand certain groups wanting to reclaim it, it comes with so much negative history, that I for one, don't get it. I was so glad to read that Richard changed his mind about it after visiting Africa.

    I personally believe that because we didn't have entrenched slavery, like in America, that we let things get brushed under the carpet. Whereas, it is very much an issue that needs to be discussed, addressed and all of our attitudes reassessed.

    Here's hoping that this open discussion can continue and we can all see and appreciate our differences and be like-minded in our decision to wipe out all ism's...especially racism.

    Cheers Greg x

  11. Mohammed January 14, 2012 at 12:28 am #

    Good article - although are you sure Powell was actually referring to "racial" differences and not "cultural" differences in his "Rivers of blood" speech? I don't think anyone with more than a few brain cells is truly racist in this day and age, however what is happening especially in the UK and across Europe is an awareness that in reality cultural ideologies do not necessarily mix as you proclaim in your rose-tinted statement;

    "Only then can we set about the task of fully integrating, embracing diversity and building communities where all are allowed to properly contribute in an atmosphere of mutual respect. This open-mindedness and human empathy would surely serve to enrich our culture no end as we contemplate the fresh challenges of the 21st century."

    Of course; provided all cultural groups also possess equal "open-mindedness and human empathy" which sadly is not true. Many do not want to integrate, actively seeking to exploit this socialist paradigm, often forming separate communities within. Referring to Enoch Powell as a "racist" is shallow.

    Obviously there is a lot to gain from other cultures, however in order to have a cultural identity in the first place means coming from a geographical location with that particular "culture". Mixing all cultures, religions and races together destroys and dilutes cultural identity all together, and what we are left with is a cloudy mix of different people who are unsure of their individual cultural identity. (e.g. becoming westernised?).

    Furthermore most religions to the core CANNOT mix, since most religions are rooted to completely separate gods and teachings that are incompatible with this "open-mindedness" as stated.

    Maybe consider the following examples that may indicate multiculturalism may not actually bring the benefits you proclaim;

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kB4pLnK_X4U

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6cLa4xoRo8&feature=related

    Obviously by arguing such a point makes me "racist"... and I guess its only politically correct to allow the integration of cultures that promote facist and "racist" ideologies into society and not question them in fear of being called "racist".

    Multiculturalism does not "enrich our culture" because multiculturalism is proven to dilute it, and evidently creates conflict in some respects.

    Maybe "our culture" - whatever that is your referring to - benefits in terms of the arts, and allows us to learn and open our minds to new and interesting ways of life however we can TRAVEL to see other cultures.

    Moreover such problems exist because human beings naturally form relationships and communities with people with the same set of values, ideas and history (i.e. CULTURE).
    CULTURE requires its own geographical location and communities that are isolated from each other, otherwise CULTURAL differences would not actually exist...

  12. Emma Apple January 14, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

    (From Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DJGregWilson)

    Great blog! Really scary reading the posts on yahoo after a news report involving anyone not White! Scary stuff and seems to be on the rise without the usual BNP push. Divide and rule! Oldest trick in the book!

  13. stu eleventhirtyeight January 14, 2012 at 3:40 pm #

    I'm very good friends with a guy who played keys in edwin starr's band in the UK for 12 years or so up until his passing away. Its been a few years since I heard the story but Edwin told him he was offered 'War' after the Temptations passed on releasing it as they were worried about the backlash it may have on them. Edwin had a lot of pressure put on him after the release of it they were going after him on taxes and anything they could and its why he came to the UK to live.

  14. TC January 14, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    I wanted to come in and respond to Mohammed's comments and the two video clips he's posted.
    Firstly, the clips....The title is "If this is England, where are the English? It seems to show the cameraman walking along what seems to be a very vibrant street in London, perhaps Peckham or somewhere where there is a big black population. Lots of busy shops. Lots of British tax payers going about their daily life in a peaceful manner. The title seems to presume that to be English, you must also be white. Hmmm, far from being a "cultural" issue as you suggest, Mohammed, this is very clearly a point being made about skin colour and race.
    The second clip shows footage of very angry muslim extremists. Extremism in itself is going to cause trouble. Whether it's the BNP or fundamental islamic beliefs, anything that spreads hate and fear about another group in society is just plain wrong!
    The blog talked about embracing diversity. Acknowledging that we are different and allowing that to be ok. We don't all have to be the same. We can and should celebrate and respect our differences.

  15. greg wilson January 14, 2012 at 7:15 pm #

    Hi Mohammed: I agree that the final paragraph could be construed as idealistic, but I’m a positive person by nature and we’re not going to be able to address these issues from a stance of negativity and resignation. Without cultivating an atmosphere of mutual respect, all we’re left with is mutual mistrust and, worse still, mutual hatred, which benefits nobody.

    As I mentioned, regardless of our individual views, Britain is now very much a multicultural society – there’s no turning the clock back. As far as I can see it, it’s our responsibility to make things work for the sake of future generations, and this begins with the individual, and our own personal conscience.

    Enoch Powell’s speech in ’68 suggested voluntary repatriation as a solution to the ‘immigration problem’, but that never happened, and now we’re into 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation, so the call to ‘send them back to where they came from’, is a relic of a bygone age. The amount of immigrants that continue to come into the country is, as ever, a political decision, but once people have been admitted, and begin to raise families here, they become part of our overall society, and we either try to get along, or the whole negative cycle is perpetuated, with further bad blood on each side of the divide.

    Religion has, and always will, cause divisions. Even worshiping the same God doesn’t solve this – just look at the history of conflict between Catholic and Protestant, Shiite and Sunni. You can only hope that the moderate voices aren’t drowned out, for it’s the extremists that always shout loudest.

    I’m not sure that culture can be defined purely in terms of geographical location these days – the fact that we’re discussing this on the internet, and that people from all over the world can comment, illustrates a different type of community that’s emerged in recent years, and culture grows out of community. Where you live and how you interact with the people around you is, of course, always important, but the internet allows people to access a full spectrum of ideas and come to their own opinions in a way that wasn’t possible previously. For example, with music, it’s not long ago that a city like Sheffield, Manchester or Liverpool could evolve its own distinct sound. Nowadays that just wouldn’t happen, with files shared online and YouTube clips uploaded for all to see and hear. The saying ‘it’s not where you’re from its where you’re at’ rings increasingly true in this day and age.

    I’m under no illusion that this is a hugely complex issue with major challenges – given the fractious history of race relations in this country since the Second World War, I’m not naive enough to suggest otherwise. I’m sure that in the late 1800’s / early 1900’s, when there was mass immigration into New York and other American cities from all over Europe, followed by the ‘Great Migration’ of black people from the South to the North, many believed that these various separate groupings would never find common ground, but, despite all the problems, the US went on to thrive and prosper as the 20th Century unfolded, both financially and culturally - it’s diversity key to this.

    There’s bound to be friction when cultures collide, but sometimes this is necessary to shake things up and awaken people from their complacency. The results can either be productive or destructive, so my personal hope is that the pendulum will swing to the productive side, with those pushing the more extremist agendas marginalised. Society will never get rid of bigotry, nor should it, as all are entitled to their views and opinions whether we personally agree with them or not – a world where everyone thinks exactly the same has the sinister ring of Big Brother about it (the Orwell book rather than the TV show). However, when these views incite violence and hatred, the argument is lost.

    What goes around comes around, and the immigration issues in Britain have always related to its foreign policy, especially in the time of the Empire, when it saw no problem in exporting its culture around the world, and enforcing it upon those of different cultural heritage (under the banner of ‘they’re not as civilised as we are’). It’s Britain’s karma to deal with what was created by its former actions. To quote another of Anderson’s lines (this time from the track ‘That’s My Nigger’), these are nine simple words that speak volumes about this whole situation and its historical context - ‘If you weren't over there I wouldn't be here’.

  16. Jonathan Moore January 16, 2012 at 1:45 pm #

    Timely posting Greg.

    A few years back I was involved in a TV season put together by the BBC called "The White Season"

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2008/02_february/14/white.shtml

    It's central premise being that multiculturalism has left certain white working class communities lacking in identity. As you can imagine it was a contentious premise and the BBC were accused of stereotyping and racism. And to be honest I found it a very hard project to be involved with, being a "Guardian reading multiculturalist" myself.

    In hindsight, working on the season of programs has given me a very different lens with which to view intolerance and a greater understanding of some of the forces that drive intolerance. The current resurgence of racist views would seem to me to be part of a wider problem of intolerance in general, and this intolerance is amplified by the current economic and political climate. One of the unfortunate byproducts of multiculturalism in Britain over the last 40 years has been an overly zealous application of political correctness. Something which was intended to increase mutual understanding ended up having the opposite effect in certain quarters has increased intolerance and helped create a climate where a radicalised right could re-emerge.

    Growing up though the 70's and 80's, music had a very strong influence on me and was something of a unifying force; especially growing up in an ethnically diverse part of London. Ska & 2 Tone in particular seemed to me at the time to be celebration of ethic diversity and provided the starting point of my life long love affair with music that mixes cultural influences. I'd like to think that music could once again be a unifying influence; maybe through a modern day equivalent to 'Rock Against Racism'.

    J
    ------------
    http://soundcloud.com/leftside-wobble

  17. cezza January 17, 2012 at 10:29 am #

    A refreshinig read, thanks to all who gave their opinion. For me its alot about insightment into us as humans and I guess its part of our 'humanity' to become attracted to the negativity of hatred and 'pointing the finger' of blame at others rather than to look at ourselves. I feel racism is still alive and kicking not just in large well known groups but within individuals. I think the pot needs to be stired up maybe and discussions like this can help to bring all the bits that are stuck at the bottom up to the surface to the melted. Personally I myself have heard racist comments still loud and clear. It horrifies me that this still takes place and yet others say it doesn't exist in this day and age. Personally I can do my part and challenge those comments though it is a difficult situation when you are faced with such ignorance and such obvious low intelligence. As they say if you want peace then begin with being peaceful yourself.

  18. Nadia January 23, 2012 at 11:19 am #

    I don't know the etiquette of blogging and so this comment may just disappear as it is so long after the event but I thought I would leave it anyway. I think the main point that I wanted to make was about the importance of language. I think that the critics of what has been attacked as 'political correctness' would argue that to criticise people's use of words is to undermine their freedom of speech. However, oppression is embodied in language and oppressive words in speech undermine the freedom of groups to live with dignity. Further than this inequality and violence in language reflects and reinforces inequality and violence in society. The motto 'sticks and stone may break my bones but names will never hurt me' is based on a misunderstanding as the use of degrading, humiliating names justifies and legitimises the use of 'sticks and stones' or knives in the case of Stephen Lawrence. The blog that follows this talks about Muhammmed Ali and his rejection of the name Casius Clay represented a radical act of reclaiming dignity through a name that had been stolen through slavery inspiring the fight against racism in all areas of society. What's in a name? The world.

  19. phil hongkins January 27, 2012 at 8:33 pm #

    stay frosty Greg , the more things change the more they stay the same , though for me now i dont think we get it anything like as badly as the aisan/muslim people are . dunt make it right though , to me it looks the right is on the rise across europe and i dont see it improving until the economy improves , and we are way off from that ...

  20. Vincent purnell February 8, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    Well done Greg.Not only are you a talented DJ,producer,icon,your also a deeply thoughtful well rounded individual.You won't remember but I did on occasion sleep over with friends at your house in Wigan.It was during your heady Wigan pier,legends days.As I recall I once woke up with stubble rash from your doberman which had fallen asleep on my head,I then had the misfortune to eat some toast using the butter that was left out for your cat.I could not believe just how huge your record collection was literally every room with racks of records.My first use of a sl1200 in your front room.Thankyou Greg you are a legend I was one of a hand full of lads that used to travel up from Warrington to listen to electro at it's finest and partake in a little bboying(breakdancing).

  21. phil hongkins June 30, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

    GUD LAD ...u always on it , cheers Greg ..

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. S H O O K M A G /////// » Features » Putting The Black In The Union Jack - August 15, 2012

    [...] population had their way back in 1968, when he made his divisive ‘Rivers Of Blood’ speech (see: http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2012/01/confused-misused-and-in-the-dark), only Rutherford would have represented Britain, and this ‘historic sporting night’ would have [...]

  2. Putting The Black In The Union Jack « sallykendallmosaics - October 3, 2012

    [...] population had their way back in 1968, when he made his divisive ‘Rivers Of Blood’ speech (see: http://www.gregwilson.co.uk/2012/01/confused-misused-and-in-the-dark), only Rutherford would have represented Britain, and this ‘historic sporting night’ would have [...]

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