Uniting Against Racism in Dorset

I just have to say, we don’t have a racism problem in the country because of the Brexit vote. We have a racism problem in this country because of long running cultural and social problems that we have chosen to ignore for decades. The Brexit vote has lifted the lid off the reality of life in Britain. It may make a few people feel better to blame the millions of people who voted leave who are not racist but it’s another cop out and another attempt to ignore the underlying problems. If anyone thinks that there would have been no racist backlash if we’d voted to stay, then you are delusional. How do you really think these arseholes would have reacted to a remain vote? Racism springs up when people are forced to compete for limited resources. Poverty is the real problem. This referendum has forced us to see the real Britain. If you don’t like what you see, stop pointing fingers and do something about it. (Claire Newton, Poole)

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The idea that racism is a phenomena that was created from the chaos of Brexit is ludicrous. What Brexit has done by creating a chaos though is to provide the opportunity for some to voice a view that they may have been more reticent to do before. As such there should be no harm in reasserting the premise that it is unacceptable and that many of us will not be broken or damaged by others ludicrous assumptions.

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Edmund Burke describes the state as a partnership between the living, the dead and unborn generations. This is applicable to culture (not a word he used). His notion of culture – or, more accurately, “manners”, combined with custom, tradition and public affection – is simultaneously a product of political power, an invaluable asset in exercising it and a powerful restraint on it.

By this he meant that the notion of culture links us historically across generations. Whatever our ethnic mix it is the fusion of thoughts and actions across time. Racism is a sign that some refuse to accept the fluidity of culture. Whereas Burke desired the influence of the powerful I however do not. Culture should be welcoming of all ideas and those who prefer to seclude themselves within a parochial top down imposition, which is generally irrational and non comprehensible, are in denial of how culture over the historical context works. After all, to understand reality requires us all not merely a small portion. The conflict is between the whole and the partial. The problem is that some impose upon that culture their own prejudice or ignorance to the detriment of everyone else. Ideally (for me at least) if we allow it to flow like a river our only role then becomes the removal of any debris in its path.

This then enables the old idea of culture in the sense of (very) broad learning, articulate argument and trenchant literary judgement. However at present that alas, is diminishing all around us.

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Yesterday’s gathering, as with multiple gatherings across the country in the last week, is a reminder of this. The desire to anoint all ideas and consider them as part of the whole against the rejection of many of them because the narrator is perceived as different in colour or in those very ideas. What the parochialism fails to acknowledge though is that the differences in ideas and their practice are often much greater in those that they continue to celebrate. 

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To those who argue that by organising these events the attendees are stoking up the issue and creating more conflict are missing the point. Culture is a complicated mix of ingredients. We can celebrate those parts that fuse us or we can abandon them when they are under pressure. To do the latter will see them weaken both metaphorically and in praxis.

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Like any county, inside and outside of the metropolis, Dorset has its beauty and its menace. That will never be entirely erased but the menace can be eroded to a point where for many it lacks relevance in their lives. Being aware and then challenging racism in all of its forms is but one way to achieve this.

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What we have then is a celebration of our cultures and the beauty in the differences that each one of us can embrace.

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Well done to you all.