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The Entirely Ghastly Racism Of The English

We around here have extensive life experience of places which are not England – even, not Britain. From direct observation we’re thus able to point out that the UK is one of the most tolerant, non-racist, countries on the planet. We don’t say that it’s perfect on this or any other front, of course not, but compared to other places we’ve pitched up it’s really pretty good.

So, when we get claims like this we’re always a little mystified:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]This is a vital study of racial bias. Now will Britain take heed?
Afua Hirsch[/perfectpullquote]

Well, OK, we’re often mystified by the assertions of Ms. Hirsch. But this particular one:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Now my experience of “the question” is laid bare in the data: within the last month alone, one in five BAME people has had someone assume they aren’t British on the basis of their ethnicity.[/perfectpullquote]

Hmm, well. Whether that’s bias or not depends. That white bloke wandering down the road and shouting in Polish might indeed be of British birth but that’s not the way to bet. What it depends upon is how many of the BAME population are not of British birth. If the assumption is made – OK, here, the inquiry – that more people are foreign born that are on the basis of their skin then perhaps we are seeing some bias.

Sure, to do this properly we’d prefer to take the numbers for all here rather than just citizens. But unfortunately, we don’t know. Because we don’t know who is in the country. But this is a decent enough proxy.

The BAME population of the UK is some 13%, about-ish.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]according to the 2011 Census, the total population of England and Wales was 56.1 million, and 86.0% of the population was White
people from Asian ethnic groups made up the second largest percentage of the population (at 7.5%), followed by Black ethnic groups (at 3.3%), Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups (at 2.2%) and Other ethnic groups (at 1.0%)[/perfectpullquote]

OK. The percentage of that BAME that is foreign born is:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]This analysis, produced jointly with the Home Office, looks at the ethnicity and religion of those born outside the UK. In 2011 13% of the population (7.5 million people) in England and Wales were born overseas. We look at this foreign-born population by country of birth and religion, broken down by different periods of arrival.[/perfectpullquote]

No, save that number, the 7.5 million.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]The 2011 Census showed that almost half (46%, 3.4 million) of the foreign-born population identified with a White ethnic group, a third identified as Asian/Asian British (33%, 2.4 million) and 13% (992,000) identified with Black/African/Caribbean/Black British.[/perfectpullquote]

So, 13% of the population is 7.5 million, 13% is BAME, 13% is foreign born. And among those foreign born we’ve 3.4 million that we would immediately call BAME. And 3.4 as a percentage of 7.5 is, well, no need for calculators, call that 50%.

So, the likelihood that someone richly enhanced in melanin is not British by our birth test is some 50%, yet only 20% get it assumed – or asked – of them. We would seem therefore to have found that the British are anti-racist. Negatively racist, by the definition Ms. Hirsch herself is advancing. BAME get asked about not being British less often than they are not British.

We can have a stab at, a more inaccurate one, at a different definition of British. From Ms. Hirsch’s own paper, The Guardian:

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] Just half of the foreign born population of England and Wales hold a non-UK passport and the vast majority of the non -white British population consider themselves British, according to new figures from the 2011 Census. 45.6% of usual residents born outside the UK hold a British passport, or 3.4m of the 7.5m foreign-born population. [/perfectpullquote]

Erm, well, actually, we get to the same 50% or so number. Half the country’s BAME population aren’t British citizens, thus aren’t British. And yet the assumption – question about – happens to only 20% of them. The Brtish are negatively racist by Ms. Hirsch’s own definition.

Which really isn’t what Ms. Hirsch is telling us, is it?

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Rhoda Klapp
Rhoda Klapp
2 years ago

If Afua Hirsch doesn’t like it so much one wonders why she doesn’t find a better place, and tell all her mates.

2 years ago

And just how bad is it for someone to be viewed as a “foreigner”. when I spent a winter in Siberia and spoke Russian with an English accent, many/most locals went out of their way to be helpful, e.g. volunteering to translate for me as I tried to buy some bread (that sticks in my memory – a foreigner delaying men and women queuing up in, and probably some outside, the baker at -30C and instead of cursing me the response was to help! In fact my Russian was adequate for the task of slowly buying a loaf but the… Read more »

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