It is a standard claim that British society is grossly racist. As someone who has lived and worked in a number of different societies I would insist that this isn’t true. As would anyone who has kept their eyes open while travelling the world – Britain might be racist, in the sense that it has racists in it and aspects of the society where some matters are based upon race. But it’s hugely less racist than near any other society on the planet. One only has to look at the numbers for “mixed race” among children in the census. We Brits are handling immigration the same way we always have done, by boffing.
It should be possible though to go a little deeper. Take this from Nick Cohen (his larger point he’s entirely correct upon of course, that membership of one or another group, from sexuality to origin to gender to melanin enhancement might have some relevance to, in order, who you date, your accent, your physique and what level of sunscreen you use but has none at all to your views on capitalism, inequality and the rest):
The attacks on the Tory descendants of east African Asians echo the attacks of white racists. Their ancestry remains their curse. They are no longer from refugee families, who were robbed of everything they owned by Idi Amin and the other African dictators of the 1970s but the tainted descendants of the British empire’s “subcolonial agents” in Africa. Who could be surprised that their bad blood turned them Tory?
The thing being that there’s a vast difference in the outcome of different waves or groups of immigrants. More specifically, those “Ugandan Asians” generally turned up with nothing but the clothes they wore, an education and a trading and hard work culture. Others of the same race – whatever that means – have turned up equally fiscally poor but without that education and culture bit. The outcomes have been rather different – one symptom of which being that one section of the sub-Continent sourced is Tory, others strongly Labour.
Which leads to that research bit. Why not try to track the outcomes of those different waves? Properly, academically? Do the offspring of the Gujerati traders (either direct, or via East Africa) occupy a different position in British society than those of the Bangladeshi peasantry?
My assumption would be yes. And if we tried to fine grain the investigation a little more I’d expect that it wouldn’t be skin colour, fiscal position at the start, even religion, which would make the difference. It would be that familial culture that would. Those that were the striving middle class achievers at source – largely through education and graduation into the professions for the children – would be so here. Those that weren’t wouldn’t be.
In the absence of anyone actually doing the research that’s just my prejudice speaking of course. But it would be interesting because it would bolster Deirdrie McCloskey’s point. It’s the adoption of the bourgeois virtues that matters for economic development. Or, as a more important finding, nothing at all to do with the racism of either side. That is, nothing to do with the far right idea that them coloureds can’t hack it, not the left’s that them coloureds are oppressed by the inherent racism of the society.