Archive for the 'Race' Category



How can we be smarter in talking about race?

Author and academic  Ludi Simpson responds to last month’s Channel 4 Documentary – Things we won’t say about race that are true

Ludi SimpsonI have always thought that being open and critical, questioning and demanding, was the adult thing to do. So I am interested when I hear someone saying that equality policies should not silence anyone, as Trevor Phillips did in a television opinion piece on 19th March.

He doesn’t need me to give him extra publicity, but the way he called on us all to use more stereotypes about behaviour demands some consideration.

His claim was that too many White people in Britain feel they have been told they are guilty of racism and think they will get into trouble if they say what they think about people different from them. And this pent-up guilt among too many White people is feeding a political move to the right that threatens to pull down the legislation against discrimination.

More open stereotyping

Whether or not policies on equality or diversity might be to blame, Trevor Phillips demands that we free ourselves up to voice our thoughts about the behaviour of other groups. At this moment, more open stereotyping would be good for democracy: ”we need to get used to giving and taking offence”.

Accordingly he felt just fine saying that Jews are rich and powerful, that Colombians are responsible for drugs crime, that Britain is segregated into areas that are White, Irish, Jewish, or Pakistani, that Indian women are pharmacists, and that Black people murder other Black people. He would particularly like people who are fed up with immigrants to be able to say so without being rounded on as bigots or closet racists.

Well, I’m glad he got that off his chest. Just maybe he did not need an hour of prime TV to say it, and perhaps it was not quite accurate to call it a documentary.

It is certainly a change that White folk – who for a century had been told they were of the only superior race, and that they therefore deserved more than others – are now as bound as anyone else by equality laws that put human rights ahead of group rights and make race discrimination illegal.

“Who’s getting the White man’s share now?”

Anyone who believed the tosh of White or British supremacy might well believe there must be a link between the decline of industry, the rise of financial austerity, Britain’s growing diversity, and the passing of equality laws. Why haven’t the establishment stood up for them as promised? Who’s getting the White man’s share now?

It is also a change of the past thirty years that political parties no longer have a distinctly class perspective, no-one convincingly speaks up for the under-dog. The organised underdog, the labour movement outside parliament, is weaker and legislatively undermined. The opportunity for unfettered disenchantment within the working class is significant.

It is sensible to recognise this, and that is Trevor Phillips’ strength. However, I don’t think it can be sensible to encourage a racial, ethnic and nationalistic focus for that disenchantment, as he is doing.

Programme interviewee Tarique Ghaffur, the Metropolitan Police ex Assistant Commissioner, was much clearer: “We need intelligence-led investigations, otherwise we stereotype and stigmatise whole communities.” And Simon Woolley, one of his colleagues on the Equality and Human Rights Commission, clearly told Phillips: “Be articulate about issues without being fuzzy. We have to be smart.”

Residential segregation

I wish Trevor could be smarter on segregation. He says “residential segregation is not the only cause of terrorism, but I believe it is one condition that allows it to thrive”, referring to the July 7th 2005 London bombings and the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris last year.

But it is the only condition that Trevor raises. He ignores the evidence, which is that Muslim terrorist offenders are no more likely to be found in less White than more White areas, and that there is no evidence for a residential pulling apart of ethnic groups. He doesn’t mention Britain’s foreign policy of military intervention.

The smart thing to do is to point at real causes of real problems and try to do something about them. I agree that it is not helpful to point to people’s talk as the problem.

But neither does it help to suggest that there is “ethnic behaviour” that is helpful in tracking crime or choosing who to be educated with. The programme dealt in depth with paedophilia cases. All paedophilia should be targeted and dealt with severely, never protected, and those affected supported to prevent its recurrence; it doesn’t help to suggest that it is Pakistanis (or celebrities) who are most to blame.

People like to live in areas with some others like them. That could be called the good or benign segregation. Bad segregation is the real problem, not because it is linked to terrorism which it is not, but for lack of housing and employment and the disenchantment that follows.

Lack of opportunity is not limited to diverse areas, or for that matter to minorities: there are far more White unemployed than minority unemployed, even though minorities are more likely to be unemployed. The smart thing would be to also name and tackle structural discrimination of race, ethnicity and class. A perspective and politics that can unite those aims and harness the disenchantment that he perceives acutely, would be a good place for Trevor Phillips to put himself.

Sleepwalking to segregation_ [FC]Ludi Simpson and Nissa Finney’s book ‘Sleepwalking to segregation?’ explores contemporary claims about race and migration, combining an overview of the subject with new research. The authors argue that the myths of race and migration are the real threat to an integrated society and propose that diversity and mobility are expected and benign.

 

 

Ethnic identity and inequalities in Britain [FC]Look out for Ludi Simpson and Stephen Jivraj’s book Ethnic identity and inequalities in Britain which publishes in May this year. You will be able to purchase the book from our website here and newsletter subscribers will get 35% off if they order via the website. Not a subscriber? Why not sign up? We promise we won’t let anyone else have your data and we’ll only send you information on the books we publish. Sign up here!

The views and opinions expressed on this blog site are solely those of the original blogpost authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the Policy Press and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Police and Fatal Shootings

Maurice Punch

Maurice Punch

by Maurice Punch, author of Shoot to Kill

A fatal shooting is the ultimate in police use of power. Hence it is vital to achieve clarity and transparency on the reasons for it to ensure trust on the police use of firearms. After the massacre at Hungerford (1987) British policing became semi-armed: and the standard approach was geared to restraint, firing single rounds and aiming for the body mass – to stop and not to kill. That changed dramatically at Stockwell in 2005 when Met officers shot dead Jean-Charles de Menezes at point-blank range with several hollow-point bullets to the head. This can only be fatal and was indisputably “shooting to kill”. It raised a host of issues but the police and the Home Office went silent and have managed to avoid a fundamental debate. What should have been explored was:

– the law, national policy, operational guidelines, tactics, weapons and ammunition;
– the operational chain of risk assessment, briefing, encounters, post-incident evaluation and accountability;
– and the aftermath of a fatal shooting regarding support for family and friends, informing stakeholders and the media and cooperating with investigations.

If this had been brought unambiguously into the public domain after Stockwell it would have proved valuable in the current controversy surrounding the Mark Duggan shooting. We now need to know what has been determining the Met`s firearm`s policy and tactics. CO19, for instance, has become highly professional and skilled. To what extent is this a “militarization” of policing – written about extensively in the US – and has it altered the ground rules? Could it be that the Home Secretary`s priority on cutting crime, the Mayor`s emphasis on swift results and the Commissioners “total policing” have pressured officers and hardened tactics?

This is particularly relevant when the police get it wrong with irreversible consequences. Some of the most serious disturbances in the US have been when police have shot dead young black men who were unarmed. This also forms the key issue in the shooting of Duggan: was he unarmed at the moment he was shot? Thanks to the restraint of the Duggan family following the inquest verdict – and the proactive Met approach – there has been none of the mass violence that occurred in 2011. But this case raises two important factors:

Firstly, there are the objective elements about the context, risk assessment, equipment, briefing (was it recorded?) and the actual encounter. These are important in assessing the nature of the assignment, the appropriateness of the “hard-stop” tactic and whether alternatives were considered.

Secondly, there is the subjective experience of the officers. The evidence on firearms use is that there is always a degree of visual and aural distortion. In seemingly life-threatening situations any implement, a piece of a hoover in one case, viewed as a weapon – or a sudden gesture can lead to an officer firing, with the defence of a reasonable fear of fatal danger. The officer may even become convinced that there was a weapon when none was present. Officers do misperceive the threat in the split-seconds of a shooting and this will continue to happen however hard they train.

The conflict in assessing liability then comes from this tension between the objective factors and the subjective experience of the officer. Inquests and juries having seen and heard the evidence are burdened with assessing the validity of the latter – and a head-camera can`t look inside an officer`s mind – and tend to side with the officer`s account, to the disbelief of relatives and friends of the victim and the media.

Politicians and the police have kept the profound and unresolved implications of Stockwell out of the public arena. If they had taken the opportunity to inform the public fully on police use of firearms it might have defused the controversy and turbulence around the disputed shooting of Duggan.

Maurice Punch, 11-01-14, Amstelveen, The Netherlands.

Mental health service users in research

Patsy Staddon

Patsy Staddon

by Patsy Staddon, author of Mental health service users in research

It is exciting, as someone who is a service user and a slightly off-key academic, to be seeing a book with one’s name on the cover. I had never really expected even to have my research projects funded, or to obtain my PhD at the age of 65, let alone to meet and work with the talented people whose work is presented here.

This unusual book applies a sociological perspective to experiential knowledge and academic research. It celebrates a unique achivemen:’ a series of seminars at the British Library which brought together the work of sociologists, ‘service users’ and ‘service user sociologists’ to stand as evidence of the width and depth of service user research and its implications. The series was organised by the Survivor Researcher Network and the British Sociological Association’s Sociology of Mental Health Study Group, and co-ordinated by Lydia Lewis and Angela Sweeney. It included displays of work from two survivor organizations: the Survivors History Group and Recovery.
Eight of the book’s chapters are contributed by presenters in the series: Angela Sweeney; Peter Beresford (with Kathy Boxall); Hugh Middleton; Steve Gillard, Kati Turner, and Marion Neffgen; Lydia Lewis; Patsy Staddon; Jayasree Kalathil; and Sarah Carr. Further perspectives on user involvement are added in the chapters by Katherine Pollard and David Evans, Rachel Purtell and Wendy Rickard, and Hugh McLaughlin. In this way it has been possible to consider the sociological implications of service user involvement both now and in the future.

We see the value, but also the difficulties, encountered in the application of  ‘insider knowledge’ in service user research. We are shown ways of ‘doing research’ which bring multiple understandings together effectively, and observe the sociological use of autobiography and its relevance. We see how our identity shapes the knowledge we produce, and question how voices which challenge contemporary beliefs about health and the role of treatment are often silenced. An imbalance of power and opportunity for service users, and the stigmatising nature of services, are considered as human rights issues. Most of the contributors to the book are service users/survivors as well as academics. Their fields of expertise include LGB issues, racial tensions, and recovering from the shame and stigma of alcoholism. They stress the importance of research approaches which involve mutualities of respect and understanding within the worlds of researcher, clinician and service user/survivor.

Several contributors, the editor included, feared their voices would never be heard if they did not acquire some sort of academic status, and often struggled against remarkable odds to achieve this. Some of them outed themselves from the start, challenging established medical knowledge, as they sought the social perspectives needed to make sense of their worlds. Others have feared that admitting ‘service user’ identity would disqualify them from serious consideration as academics, and even from employment. Yet we are all likely to be ‘service users’ one day and dividing the world into knowers and their subjects obscures and restricts the very knowledge that is so expensively sought in large scale research trials, frequently designed without the benefit of a sociological perspective (McLaughlin, chapter 11).

Mental health service users in research is available with 20% discount at www.policypress.co.uk

 

Dr Richard Stone on the launch of his book Hidden Stories of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry

The launch was held at the House of Commons in Committee Room 14, the Gladstone Room. The event was sponsored by Sadiq Khan (Labour), Sir Peter Bottomley (Conservative) and Tom Brake Liberal-Democrat), thus demonstrating cross-party support for the ant-racist agenda set by the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry.

image001-1

The text was edited by the playwright Stephen Sharkey. The reading was directed Melissa Dunne and was performed by three professional actors: Tom Golding, Kelechi Okafor and Robert Macpherson (pictured).

There was prolonged applause.  I did a brief question and answer session and several people spoke.

Leroy Logan, retiring Chief Superintendent, spoke of his experience of years as a black Metropolitan Police officer

Doreen Lawrence then spoke movingly about her feelings 20 years on from the brutal racist murder of the eldest of her three children.

She also told us of the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust for young people in its fine building in Bermondsey. It was a pleasure to see her face light up when talking about this positive outcome from the disaster 20 years ago.

I then encouraged people to give financial help to replace three central Governmental grants to the Stephen Lawrence Centre, none of which has been renewed this year.

Alison Shaw, Director of the Policy Press, encouraged people to read the book and the audience needed little persuading.

Not surprisingly the best outcome of the event was the networking which took off from the minute the business was over.

I ended the evening with a call for a united anti-racism movement. It was a memorable event and the first of  I hope many more.

Richard Stone April 2013

Hidden Stories of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry: Personal Reflections is available at www.policypress.co.uk

Launch of Richard Stone’s Hidden Stories of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry: Personal Reflections

Stone launch pic

Left to right: Lord Bill Morris, Alison Shaw, Sadiq Khan MP, Dr Richard Stone and Tom Brake MP

by Alison Shaw, Director of Policy Press

The largest committee room at the House of Commons was packed and the diversity of the UK was evident in the room. Alongside the MPs and peers, there were activists, police, media, academics and many working across the public and voluntary sectors. The speakers’ contributions were passionate and heartfelt – Lord Bill Morris chaired with presentations from across the political spectrum: Sadiq Khan MP, Sir Peter Bottomley MP and Tom Brake MP, as well as Doreen Lawrence, Dr Richard Stone and myself as publisher. Below is an adapted version of my brief comments:

The issues raised in Hidden Stories are crucial if we are ever to see equality on our streets and in our lives. At Policy Press we publish work we believe will make a difference to society – in particular work that challenges discrimination and inequality in whatever guise it is found. Hidden Stories does just this. The book provides a unique insight into the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry from Dr Richard Stone’s position as one of three advisers to the judge Sir William MacPherson. It uncovers things that Dr Stone believes undermined the Inquiry, diluting the long-term impact. The 20th anniversary of Stephen’s murder is coming up in April, yet racism is still evident in our police and wider society and many of the lessons have not been learnt.

I live and work in Bristol, a large, vibrant multi-cultural city, and as a mother of teenage boys I worry about them as they became more independent venturing out across the city.  But I do not worry that they will be attacked solely because of the colour of their skin. That is because we are white. How wrong is it that parents of children from other communities cannot take that for granted! My sons walk the streets and the police never stop and search them. Why is that so different if you come from a black or minority ethnic community? As the book highlights, the inequality between stop and search can be up to 28 times greater if you are black rather than white. Stephen’s own brother, Stuart, a teacher, has made a charge against the police as he has been stopped 25 times for no reason, it appears, other than his colour.

I cannot imagine the horror of losing a son, let alone losing one so cruelly, and yet Stephen Lawrence’s parents Doreen and Neville Lawrence, and many others around them, including Dr Stone, have turned that terrible murder into a positive legacy and a fight for change. Doreen spoke movingly at the book launch of how her family have never found time to grieve as the fight to get answers and justice continues; she said: ‘no family should have to struggle for justice as we did’. Yet she does fight on and the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust, established by Doreen and Neville, works hard to provide opportunities for disadvantaged young people, fostering positive community relationships and enabling people to realise their potential.

Dr Stone’s book questions how far we have come in tackling racial discrimination, particularly in the police service, since that appalling crime nearly 20 years ago, and his conclusion is that, unfortunately, it is not far enough. His chapter Final Reflections directs us to some key changes that have to be addressed, although after the many Inquiries and reports on race discrimination Dr Stone feels enough recommendations have been written on the subject, it is the action that is needed!

For me, a key point from the book is about leadership. Those of us in leadership roles or positions of influence across public and private sectors and civil society, however big or small, have a particular responsibility to ensure that policies, practices and cultures which truly make a difference are embedded throughout our organisations. We need to hold to account those who fail to do so. No-one should just pay lip service to equality. We all need to continue to challenge racism and discrimination of all kinds wherever we find it, just like Dr Stone does, so that one day we will live in a society where everyone is equally free to walk down the street and to follow their dreams.

Hidden Stories of the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry: Personal Reflections is available at www.policypress.co.uk

Why do we need a Census?

Image

Danny Dorling

by Danny Dorling, Department of Geography, University of Sheffield

The Census held in 2011 could well be the last of its kind. There is currently a review underway, but already government has proposed that there be no traditional Census held in 2021. A two-century-old decadal tradition, interrupted only by World War Two, is currently ear-marked to end.

I do not believe it, but I am told that if the current government decision is not reversed during 2013, then there will be no budget for another Census and too little time to reinstate it in the planning, even if there is a change of governing party in 2015. What is so odd about all this is that the Census is a cheap, old-fashioned, rather conservative survey. A Coalition that believes in small government would normally be expected to favour a Census over most of the workable alternatives, unless it would rather there were no reckoning at all.

Other countries have population registers so they know how many people there are and how they are coming and going, but the current UK government is opposed to ID cards and hence a population register. Several Scandinavian countries put their registers on-line including information on the tax paid by each individual so that everyone is able to check and ensure there is no evasion. I don’t think this is what the UK government had in mind when it announced the end of the Census, but maybe I am too pessimistic.

The Census allows social scientists to determine in what direction the trends are going. Within a week of the 2011 results being published, Ludi Simpson and Stephen Jivraj, on behalf of the Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity at The University of Manchester, had analysed the results and determined that every single ethnic minority group within England and Wales had become more dispersed geographically despite rising in numbers in most cases. The same was true of every religion group except for the Jewish religion [1]. These findings can be downloaded here.

In the week before Simpson and Jivraj’s analysis was complete, the UK press had already decided that the rising numbers of many groups of people born outside of Britain meant that there had to be ethnic polarization within Britain. They were wrong, and because we had a Census and hence data for every local authority, it was possible to show that they were wrong. Without a Census we would not know.

Without a Census we will have no idea about how our towns and cities are changing. We will not know whether we are more all in it together, or if we are polarizing yet more economically while still mixing more by ethnicity. If there is not even an adequate replacement for the basic counts of people by age and sex in small areas then we will not be able to determine whether life expectancy has begun to fall in any area in the years to come. It last fell in particular places for particular groups during the 1930s depression.

Without a Census in 2021 there will be no graphs of the kind shown in the University of Manchester report. The shrillest voices will win over the most informed. Without a Census we will not know if there are actually enough bedrooms for all to be housed and where they are, we will not know who is working at more than one job, for too many hours, and who has too little work. We will not know where children are doing worse at school in a way that allows us to take account of all children (not just those at school and in the state-schools records) and we will not know where their prospects are most favourable when measured more widely. We will not know what it is that we are all together in, and how it has changed.

1.    From ‘ More segregation or more mixing?’ briefing document from The Economic and Social Research Council’s Centre on Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE). A pdf can be downloaded here http://www.ethnicity.ac.uk/census/


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