Racism in the United Kingdom
Racism is a phenomenon present in the United Kingdom. The extent and the targets of racist attitudes in the UK have varied over the course of time. The history of racism in the United Kingdom is heavily linked to its relationship with its former colonies and citizens that comprised the British Empire, many of whom settled in Great Britain, particularly following World War II. It is also strongly linked to the attitudes and norms of the entrenched British class system.
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- [W]ake up to the reality that is the nightmare of British racism.
The royal family is perhaps the most identifiable symbol of whiteness in the world. For British nationalists, the monarchy lies at the core of their yearning for the days when Britannia ruled the waves and its monarch presided over an Empire, upon which the sun never set.
- Our determination to ensure good community relations is unswerving. There is no room for racial hatred in our crowded island. We cannot afford not to make a success of a multi-racial society. A moving speech was made the other day in the other place by Lord Pitt, himself a distinguished citizen of London of West Indian origin. In that speech, he looked forward hopefully to a harmonious multiracial Britain setting an example to the world. He spoke on a high level of moral seriousness, but reminded us too that our self-interest is also served by racial harmony and tolerance. I agree with that view, and would share Lord Pitt's hope, but I do not see it as an easy or even a certain outcome, at any rate in this generation. Its accomplishment will depend on the minority community accepting that this country will not take, in Lord Pitt's own words, a "large and unending stream" of dependants, and on the majority community accepting that tolerance is one of the greatest and most traditional of British virtues and that if that tradition is broken we shall all of us suffer deeply, both minority and majority, and suffer for many years to come.
- Aside from the imported issue of Vietnam and a worsening climate in Northern Ireland, the biggest issue in Britain that year was racism. Led by Enoch Powell, a member of Parliament, the country was seeing a virulent strain of what the American civil rights movement called white backlash set off by the Labour government’s proposed Commonwealth Immigration Bill. As the British decolonized their empire, workers were being told that black and brown people from the former empire would be coming and taking away their jobs. “Keep Britain White,” was Powell’s slogan, and a number of workers groups demonstrated with this slogan. There was some amusement when a Kenyan diplomat was harassed entering the House of Commons by “Keep Britain White” hecklers who shouted, “Go back to Jamaica!” at the East African.
- The British developed similar stereotypes in India. They saw the Bengalis, in a telling choice of words, as effeminate. By contrast the British admired the ‘martial races’; peoples such as the Gurkhas, Pathans or Coorgs who lived in cooler climates and were said to have the right military qualities as a result. By the time of the First World War, the descendants of the British who had settled in Australia, Canada or New Zealand were held to be tougher and more brutal than their cousins in Britain, thanks to their geography. When the ‘less civilised’ and therefore the less adept at war won victories, these had to be written off as mistakes. When a Maori force defeated a British one in the wars in New Zealand in the mid-nineteenth century, The Times of London was quick with an explanation: ‘just as at chess a bad and reckless player is sometimes more formidable than a master of the game’.
- Margaret MacMillan, War: How Conflict Shaped Us (2020)
- [I]t's not impossible but it's difficult, for a non-white person to be British.
- The epidemic of racism on the British left has proven so virulent.
- Michael M. Rosen, "On Holocaust Remembrance Day, anti-Semitism Remains a Scourge" (4 May 2016), National Review
- Encyclopedic article on Racism in the United Kingdom on Wikipedia