Black racism is every bit as bad as white racism

We become very indignant over Islamophobia, but how many Muslims rage against so many mullahs' anti-Christian views?

Share

I believe that racism and ethnic prejudice are execrable evils. I think too that I have an absolute responsibility to condemn any malign act perpetrated by xenophobes and to fight institutions which discriminate against people on grounds of their racial, religious and ethnic backgrounds. Does that mean that I should damn black and Asian people who assault and abuse victims because they are white? Yes. Do I say this often enough? No.

I believe that racism and ethnic prejudice are execrable evils. I think too that I have an absolute responsibility to condemn any malign act perpetrated by xenophobes and to fight institutions which discriminate against people on grounds of their racial, religious and ethnic backgrounds. Does that mean that I should damn black and Asian people who assault and abuse victims because they are white? Yes. Do I say this often enough? No.

Such dereliction, such disregard could now have serious consequences unless people like me shape up. Vaclav Havel, the Czech writer and politician, said in 1985: "Truth is not merely what we are thinking, but also why, to whom and under what circumstances we say it." That is not the truth, but political expediency and it is such expediency which has undermined our anti-racist movements.

Our entire struggle, its moral and ethical foundation, stands to be discredited because we do not pay the attention we should to white victims of black and Asian hatred. The British Crime Survey figures which report on racially motivated incidents do show that substantial numbers of white people feel themselves to be victims of racially motivated attacks, just as many black and Asian Britons do the other way around. In many cases, crimes may be seen as "racial" when they are simply acts of colour-blind felony or anti-social behaviour, but that still leaves many instances where race and ethnicity are partly responsible for very real violations of black as well as white Britons.

This is something which has just been raised by Phil Woolas, a government whip whose constituency is in Oldham East which experienced race riots two years ago. In January this year, the number of attacks on white people in Oldham noticeably increased and some undoubtedly had racist motives. Mr Woolas has written to the Commission for Racial Equality saying that race relations in Britain will be damaged unless prominent people and bodies like the CRE come out of the closet on this problem: "Politicians across the party divide have failed to be seen to condemn racist, violent attacks against white people as strongly or as forcibly as such attacks against Asian and black people. I urge you not to diminish anti-discrimination work by allowing the perception that racist attacks on white people are not taken seriously."

He is right and we need to take this warning seriously. But hark, caution now. You don't want to hand even more useful poison to neo-Fascist parties to add to their supremacist broth. (Look at the National Front website and you get emotional accounts of "150 murders of innocent whites by savage, low-IQ negroes let into the country by treacherous politicians".) And you don't want to encourage even greater paranoia among conservatives who are convinced that all victims of racism in Britain are white and that most criminals are black or Asian and that soon many parts of the green and pleasant land will turn black.

It is unacceptable for society to revile and punish black and Asian miscreants more savagely than whites and we have just seen some evidence of how this may have happened with the Muslim men convicted of the riots in Bradford in 2001. First-time offenders who delivered themselves to the police have been given punitive sentences which, I think, would have been less severe for white rioters.

Unfortunately, fighting against these injustices has created a set of new assumptions which are just as unacceptable. Black and Asian people behaving badly are too readily excused, their crimes hidden or explained away, which is unjust, unhealthy and corrupting of the communities themselves. Concentrating only on white racism means other forces which destroy lives are never confronted. This is one reason why so much black-on-black violence was barely addressed until the deaths of two young black women on New Year's Day. A File on Four programme on BBC Radio 4 recently examined the flourishing heroin trade in areas of Bradford – a trade entirely in the hands of second-generation British Muslims, who, I am sure, are very devout. We don't talk about that. Real equality should mean equal rights and equal culpability.

We are, as I have often said recently, living in the most wretched of times, where bitter hatred is aggressively stalking the streets and threatening all that is good about us as a nation. In such times it is hard to hold on to this, but Britain has come a long, long way from the Fifties and Sixties when thousands of white people used to take to the streets of London, Cardiff and Liverpool looking for "niggers" to terrorise because they were black. White and black anti-racists have managed to keep up the battle for equality and justice through the decades, never giving up even through the dark days of Powellism and, later, Thatcherism.

Racism still exists and maybe always will, but we have managed to get some change within institutions (not nearly enough) and even Tories are now enthusiastic champions of diversity (what wondrous transformations are brought about by sliding political fortunes). Most encouraging of all are those intimacies and friendships across the tribes which you do not often see in most other Western countries.

This country, which we are slowly remaking, could be torn apart by black and Asian bigots who do not want to see an integrated new Britain and who have come to believe that all whites are fair game because of slavery, because of colonialism and because of the undoubted racisms we have all had to live with. Racism can cause lethal damage and maybe it did to Abu Hamza, the cult leader in the Finsbury Park mosque who says that he is the way he is because of all the racism he faced all those years ago. But is that any reason to tolerate what he is now doing, inciting impressionable young Muslim men to oppose and demean white British cultures and faiths? Again, we become very indignant if we discover Islamophobia, but how many Muslims rage against the anti-Christian views of so many mullahs?

If gangs of young white men openly said that black and Asian girls are easy sluts to be knocked about and used, what would anti-racists say and do? Yet, again and again, I come across black and Asian men who freely express such objectionable views about young white women who themselves rarely realise just how they are dissed by the men they fancy, trust and even love.

As for the beatings and killings of Asian women who make the mistake of falling in love with white or black men, well, they may call that culture but it is pure, murderous racism. White supporters have always turned up to mourn the racist killings of black and Asian victims, so shouldn't black activists march and remember victims like Ross Parker, a white teenager murdered in Peterborough by three Muslim men with a hammer and a foot-long knife? Our values are worthless unless all victims of these senseless deaths matter equally.

Black and Asian Britons may fear a more open and honest exposure of the worst among us. But we can't keep these dirty secrets any longer – it does not help the cause of racial justice, it does not make a good society. As Milton wrote: "When complaints are freely heard, deeply considered, and speedily reformed, then is the utmost bound of civil liberty attained that wise men look for."

y.alibhai-brown@independent.co.uk

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Barista

£6 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This person must also have exceptional a...

Ashdown Group: Development Engineer - Slough - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Development Engineer/ Sys...

Recruitment Genius: Software Support Analyst - Level 2

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of financial software so...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Administrator

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a security software com...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A memorial to the1982 war between Great Britain and Argentina in Buenos Aires  

Argentina poses no military threat to the Malvinas Islands. So why is the UK ratcheting up tension?

Alicia Castro
 

Daily catch-up: religion, politics and roads named after dictators

John Rentoul
War with Isis: Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria's capital

War with Isis

Iraq declares victory in the battle for Tikrit - but militants make make ominous advances in neighbouring Syria
Scientists develop mechanical spring-loaded leg brace to improve walking

A spring in your step?

Scientists develop mechanical leg brace to help take a load off
Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock: How London shaped the director's art and obsessions

Peter Ackroyd on Alfred Hitchcock

Ackroyd has devoted his literary career to chronicling the capital and its characters. He tells John Walsh why he chose the master of suspense as his latest subject
Ryan Reynolds interview: The actor is branching out with Nazi art-theft drama Woman in Gold

Ryan Reynolds branches out in Woman in Gold

For every box-office smash in Ryan Reynolds' Hollywood career, there's always been a misconceived let-down. It's time for a rethink and a reboot, the actor tells James Mottram
Why Robin Williams safeguarded himself against a morbid trend in advertising

Stars safeguard against morbid advertising

As film-makers and advertisers make increasing posthumous use of celebrities' images, some stars are finding new ways of ensuring that they rest in peace
The UK horticulture industry is facing a skills crisis - but Great Dixter aims to change all that

UK horticulture industry facing skills crisis

Great Dixter manor house in East Sussex is encouraging people to work in the industry by offering three scholarships a year to students, as well as generous placements
Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head

Hack Circus: Technology, art and learning

Hack Circus aims to turn the rule-abiding approach of TED talks on its head. Rhodri Marsden meets mistress of ceremonies Leila Johnston
Sevenoaks is split over much-delayed decision on controversial grammar school annexe

Sevenoaks split over grammar school annexe

If Weald of Kent Grammar School is given the go-ahead for an annexe in leafy Sevenoaks, it will be the first selective state school to open in 50 years
10 best compact cameras

A look through the lens: 10 best compact cameras

If your smartphone won’t quite cut it, it’s time to invest in a new portable gadget
Paul Scholes column: Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now

Paul Scholes column

Ross Barkley played well against Italy but he must build on that. His time to step up and seize that England No 10 shirt is now
Why Michael Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Why Carrick is still proving an enigma for England

Manchester United's talented midfielder has played international football for almost 14 years yet, frustratingly, has won only 32 caps, says Sam Wallace
Tracey Neville: The netball coach who is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

Tracey Neville is just as busy as her brothers, Gary and Phil

The former player on how she is finding time to coach both Manchester Thunder in the Superleague and England in this year's World Cup
General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?