Trevor Phillips: 'We are becoming more unequal by ethnicity'

From a speech on community relations by the head of the Commission for Racial Equality, at Manchester Town Hall
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The Independent Online

If we allow this to continue, we could end up in 2048, a hundred years on from the Windrush, living in a Britain of passively co-existing ethnic and religious communities, eyeing each other uneasily over the fences of our differences. This is not only or even principally about Muslims. But the aftermath of 7/7 forces us to assess where we are. And here is where I think we are: sleepwalking our way to segregation. We are becoming strangers to each other, and we are leaving communities to be marooned outside the mainstream.

Increasingly, we live with our own kind. Residential isolation is increasing for many minority groups, especially South Asians: the number of people of Pakistani heritage in what are technically called "ghetto" communities trebled between 1991 and 2001. Alongside this spatial segregation, there is also a trend towards "soft" segregation, as different groups increasingly inhabit separate social and cultural worlds. The trend is a cause for concern - younger Britons appear to be integrating less well than their parents.

The fragmentation of our society by race and ethnicity is a catastrophe for all of us. We all have a part to play. Integration has to be a two-way street, in which the settled communities accept that new people will bring change with them and newcomers realise that they too will have to change if we are to move closer to an integrated society.

There is no doubt that Britain is facing a clear demand to make the process of integration real, active and urgent. Should we be considering using the funding system to encourage schools to attract a diverse range of children? Ultimately, should we have a national understanding of what kind of mix is desirable and what undesirable?