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Strategies for challenging and changing racism

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Introduction

Strategies for challenging and changing racism have included recognition of the way in which interlocking systems of domination of race, sex, and class work together to perpetuate and maintain racial hierarchies. Throughout the struggle for racial justice in the United States individuals have wanted to separate issues of race and racism from those of class and gender hierarchies. This separation denies the reality of interlocking structures and therefore has always provided an inadequate and incomplete basis for analysis. Strategies for social change which focus exclusively on race have heretofore always had limited impact because of this basic gap in theory and practice. For example: almost everywhere in the world dark-skinned individuals tend to make up large numbers of the poor. It should be more than obvious that one cannot then talk about the social circumstances determining the fate of these individuals without examining the links between class, race/ethnicity. And since a large number of that poor are women, gender is another factor that must be considered if we are to construct theories of social change which concretely address the everyday life experiences of people globally. Within the United Kingdom, United States and elsewhere there is always a resurgence of white supremacy attitudes and actions when there is economic depression. Clearly then all theories of social change addressing ending racism must look holistically at the issues, examining the interlocking nature of race, sex, and class. While individuals in the UK are willing to consider connection between racism and sexism, class tends to be the variable no one wishes to discuss because it ...read more.

Middle

Black persons can be admired not in spite of, but because of, their blackness, for their aesthetics, style and creativity as well as for their anti-racist resistance. For example, at a typical performance of the controversial black nationalist rap band, Public Enemy, more than half of the audience will be white. Black culture as a form of creativity as well as a product has become something that a lot of white people want to share. This perspective on multiculturalism clearly does not accept public-private distinction, but equally clearly the focus is almost exclusively on what is regarded as the private sphere. Whilst theorists like Hall and Gilroy clearly want to emphasise the political character of culture, and of how change in cultural life can affect political possibilities, it is striking that Hall and Gilroy have virtually nothing to say about the implications of their theorising for political institutions and policies, and indeed some of their writings are explicitly anarchist in orientation. (Gilroy, 1987) "Their contemporary residues, rendered more difficult to perceive by the recent migration of slave descendants into the centres of metropolitan civilisation, also exhibit the tendency to transcend a narrowly national focus. Analysis of black politics must, therefore, if it is to be adequate, move beyond the field of inquiry designated by... categories formed in the intersection of "race" and the nation state... To put it another way, national units are not the most appropriate basis for studying this history for the African Diaspora's consciousness of itself has long been defined in and against constricting national boundaries." ...read more.

Conclusion

These identities, various as they are, do not necessarily compete with a sense of Britishness. Half of the Chinese but more than two-thirds of those in the other groups also said that they felt British, and these proportions were, as one might expect, higher amongst young people and those who had been born in Britain. The majority of respondents had no difficulty with the idea of hyphenated or multiple identities, but there was evidence of alienation from or a rejection of Britishness too. For example, over a quarter of British-born Caribbeans did not think of themselves as being British (The Race Network Online). It is found that most of the second generation did think of themselves as mostly but not entirely culturally and socially British. They were not however comfortable with the idea of British being anything more than a legal title, in particular they found it difficult to call themselves 'British' because they felt that the majority of white people did not accept them as British because of their race or cultural background; through hurtful 'jokes', harassment, discrimination and violence they found their claim to be British was all too often denied. For multiculturalism cannot be about encouraging a whole host of lifestyle identities - race, ethnicity, sub-nationality, language, gender, sexual orientation etc. - and yet denying the same to religious identities. This perhaps would not be so problematic but for the fact, as we have seen, that for several important minorities religious identity is more important than the other kinds of identities just listed. ...read more.

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