How Racist are you? Your Guide to having a Racial Neutral Footprint

Just as we try to cut down our ‘carbon footprint’ these days and try to keep ourselves – as much as possible – ‘carbon-neutral’, so I think it is time we did the same thing to challenge our racial prejudices. So here it is, especially for my British friends, your quick guide to being ‘Racial-neutral’ made so easy even members of the English Defence League should be able to follow it.

How to have a Racial-Neutral Footprint (RNF)

To begin with, take 100 friends or people you come into contact with regularly (EDL supporters can make it 50 if you can’t find that many – just halve or quarter the numbers below). Here’s what you should have if you have an RNF.

  • 19 friends must be Chinese
  • 17 will be Indian
  • 4 must be American (no really – go find them…)
  • 3 will be Indonesian
  • 3 will be Brazilian
  • 3 will be from Pakistan
  • 2 must be Nigerian (preferably the ones who have all those millions locked up in a Nigerian Trust and just need your bank account details to be able to access it and give you a share for your kind help)
  • 2 will be Bangladeshis (yay!)
  • 2 will be Russian (make sure they come with vodka)
  • 2 from Japan
  • 2 from Mexico
  • Then 1 each from: Vietnam, Philippines, Ethiopia, Egypt, Germany, Iran, Turkey, Congo, Thailand and (sorry Brit friends, it’s true) France.

Now get this – if you have just one British friend you already have too many! Get rid of the rest, right now. Go on. Throw them out – you don’t need them. That leaves 30 friends to split up among the remaining 220 countries or states recognized by Wikipedia here.

I hope this helps you to develop your own RNFs. Good luck with living a racially-balanced lifestyle.

Joking aside…

Racial Violence Against Indians on Rise in UK

Racial Violence in the UK (Source: Allvoices.com)

While none of us are likely to have quite this kind of ratio of friends and acquaintances, is does throw up just how out of sync those of us from the predominantly ‘white’ developed word really are.

According to Wikipedia, the number of White people in the UK today is around 45 million. The number of Asians is approximately 4 million and Blacks nearly 2 million. Altogether just 15% of the population is ‘non-white’. It is easy to perceive that most of the white population doesn’t have to interact with people who may seem ‘significantly different’. In fact, the only real interaction most Whites have is through the news media full of the ‘evils of immigration’. No wonder racist views prosper!

Bizarrely, I have come across far too many British Asians who tell me immigrants from their own background cultures are ‘dirty’, ‘stupid’ and ‘thieves and cheats’. This, for me, is the most damning indication of the sickness in the country. It seems it takes just a single generation of living in Britain to believe the same lies.

This is Britain (Source: Astute Blogger)

Everything changes, I believe, when we take a global view of things. The British themselves know they have an ‘island mentality’ about these things, but with the proliferation of the internet there really is no excuse any longer to hold on to such irrational fears. We can and do communicate, trade and build relationships with people from all over the world – why do we persist in thinking “not in our own backyard”?

We can’t ignore the ‘Global Village’ any longer. While most Brits live in largely ‘whites only’ world, I’m sitting in Asia where 60% of the world’s population live. Most Brits do realize, cerebrally at least, that this is true but consider Asia so far away and insignificant that it doesn’t really affect them.

But it does matter.

After the States, China and Japan have the second and third largest economies in the world. India comes in ninth or tenth depending on whose statistics you use but this is rapidly growing – as are the economies of other Indian subcontinent countries – and I seem to recall at one point India surpassed Britain economically though I can’t currently locate the report. Taken as a whole, Asia is arguably the most important economy in the world.

Frankly, Britain can’t afford to hold its deeply ingrained beliefs of moral and cultural superiority. Instead it needs to see itself as a global player. That seems an odd thing to say considering it has the seventh largest economy in the world but there is all the difference between being a player and a leader. When you are a global leader you can afford to be pretty ignorant of those beneath you; you can’t when you’re a team player. I am certain that in the next few decades economic power will shift heavily ‘to the right’ globally. The British should learn from the mistakes of the past. We tried to keep Asia as friends after decades of abuse as masters and it was too little, too late. We don’t want to do the same now as the West slowly gives up its pseudo-colonial grip on the world economy.

Otherwise, our 30+ foreign friends are swiftly going to find us irrelevant and unwanted – pretty much like the EDL now actually.

Source: Voice online

 

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About D K Powell

British freelance journalist, author, writer, editor, musician, educational consultant. I lived with Wifey, Thing I (daughter) & Thing II (son) in Bangladesh for 5-6 years working for an NGO called LAMB. Wifey led the Hospital Rehab department and I used to teach O levels at the school before going full-time as a freelance writer in 2013. Now we're back in the UK learning how to be British again. When not writing or editing, I'm busy trying to complete a Masters degree in Intercultural relations in Asian Contexts and reading way too many books at once. I also drink tea - lots of it.
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17 Responses to How Racist are you? Your Guide to having a Racial Neutral Footprint

  1. Audrey Chin says:

    Hi Ken, off on a different tangent from the previous thread —

    I just went to Singapore Writer’s Festival and found a brilliant new book called Nazi Goreng., an aging Italian punk-rocker’s first piece of fiction centred around racist brown supremacist punk rockers who use the swastika as a symbol. Nasi Goreng or fried rice is of course the throw everything in fast food in our part of S.E. Asia and this is a great non-racist book about the miscellany of races in Malaysia, where everything is defined by race, to the detriment of everyone.

    Why am I writing about the book here …. because it shows that it’s not just white people who have a monopoly on racism, that we can’t help but crowd up against people of different races in our quickly globalizing world and if we don’t learn to live with it …. well!

    Like

    • Hi Audrey – far from it! I think you’ve put the thread BACK on track OFF the tangent Ruby took it!

      I think the book sounds brilliant and I have to read it at some point (got far too many books I need to read at the moment – including finishing yours 😦 )

      I didn’t want to raise the issue with this post because it particularly focuses on British racism, but you’re right about white people not having the monopoly on racist attitude. Living in Bangladesh has shown me just what it is to be the one being abused for a change because I’m white and also how different cultural groups in a country which appear homogeneous to foreigners can have the most dreadful phobias and hatreds towards one another. Most of the violence happening here is as a result of these fears and hatreds.

      Like

  2. Oh my Ruby’s comments have made this post so much fun!

    Like

  3. Okay, who has left out the Greeks?!!! It’s because of the financial crisis, huh? 👿 No one wants a Greek to hang around with!! 😆
    As for the “racial” thing… it sounds too politically correct to me and I never liked tags – or thought control. So, my [very very few] friends are people with whom I have an open thread of communication, a thread that goes deeper than language – colour – nationality etc
    Again, respect is the word! 😉
    Have a great Sunday, my friend!

    Like

  4. I come in to contact with maybe 5 people on a regular basis and 3 of those are my immediate family so inevitably they are of the same race as me.

    Anyway, I am pretty racist. I thought about this and I decided I don’t care. I don’t hate people from other cultures, heck I hardly even get the opportunity to interact with them. When I do I treat everyone I meet as an individual, because they are. I still think that our roots and background means more than just what kind of clothes we’re likely to wear or food we’re likely to know how to cook though. I don’t mind being racist so much, I don’t hate anyone.

    I am actually concerned though about the demographic changes we’re facing as a society, both the whole top heavy old people vs working age people one, and the 11% of the country were not even born here one. I don’t think multiculturalism is the best of ideas, I think it is pretty short sighted, but I also know it is basically irreversible now and I don’t blame people who came here for it, I blame the governments. I just hope we manage it well. I think the only way a multicultural society (with several distinct ethnic groups that don’t just immediately interbreed into non-existence and unification) can realistically work in the long term despite pressures like rising food and energy prices is with an overarching “imperial” type ideology that holds every culture under it together and is accessible to all the under-cultures (something akin to how Christianity served as a high culture binding together medieval Europe). I think the UK is quite well placed to work that way because of the legacy of empire and stuff… but I don’t know if it’s the best kind of society.

    But its better than rivers of blood etc and multiculturalism is not something that can be humanely undone so I think its probably the best way forward for us.

    As for the UK’s place in the world… can’t pretend to have any real good ideas about that. Desperately treading water trying to stay vaguely relevant seems to be all that we’ve got.

    Like

    • Not sure, if you don’t hate anyone and, rightly, treat people as individuals how you term yourself as ‘racist’. That said, I don’t agree with you about multiculturalism. We’ve always been multicultural in the UK – we just like to pretend it is a new phenomenon. I can’t see how any kind of ‘imperial’ ideology of any sort could serve to make anything better – Medieval Christianity is really not a praiseworthy example of anything.

      And I wouldn’t worry about that 11% – most are made up of people who don’t stay for more than a few years and actually bring great wealth and experience to the country.

      Like

  5. Ruby Tuesday says:

    Okay, so I’m starting to read this post, seriously and with interest. I get to the sentence: “To begin with, take 100 friends or people you come into contact with regularly. . .”

    I stop, because I know generally this is headed in a demographic direction and I want to assess myself honestly, before you get down to cases. But all I can do for a few minutes is ponder your number of choice (keep in mind that at this point I’m still just going at this with a working knowledge of your past serious attitude about this type of thing, not how convenient 100 is for illustrating percentages).

    ‘100? Do people actually have 100 friends?’ (Well, clearly they think they do based on what I used to see on fb.) ‘Do I actually even know 100 people? The only people outside of my family I come into contact with regularly are the baristas at my Starbucks.’

    Then I read some more and understood your illustration more clearly. . . Sigh.

    You know I always very much appreciate and empathize with where you’re coming from on this topic, Ken. That being said, I must share three things.

    1) Race is a bit of an incorrect and misleading term here, I think you want something more along the lines of “nationality-neutral”.

    2) But if you will insist on it, you really want to use the noun, “race” in place of the adjective “racial” for your hyphenate, grammatically speaking. ;P

    3) While I am being a pain in the ass, in an ideal world I think we want to be globally aware, culturally appreciative, and racially blind, if you can take the sense of that.

    And I firmly believe in working for an ideal world, Ken. As firmly as I believe in obscenely long blog comments and giving my good friends shit about matters of semantics and of grammar. 😉

    Like

    • Ruby Tuesday says:

      *After further consideration, and in reference to point number two, “racially neutral” could also be used, but then I think you would have to refrain from hyphenating. (Yes, I’m actually making further mention of that point.)

      Like

    • You had me doubting myself for a moment Ruby – I had to go research online just to make sure I hadn’t gone mad. I haven’t – so I think we’re going to end up disagreeing here!

      I can’t really comment on whether you should know 100 people or more but I would say I know very few people in this world who don’t. The figure was, of course, taken for easy-to-understand demographic purposes, as well as to take a cheap potshot at people who deserve it (not you – the EDL).

      Now your numbered points:

      1) No, no, no – Race is exactly the point of the whole piece. You need to look again. While the tongue-in-cheek ‘guide’ used nationalities to produce concrete figures, the whole point of this piece is about racial prejudice and how it goes hand in hand with groups of people who have little contact with others who don’t look or act the same as them.
      2) Hyphens are used in this context to make compound adjectives to modify a noun. In this case they do that happily. They are used to make a meaning clear. I didn’t mean a ‘neutral footprint’ but a ‘racial-neutral’ footprint – there being a difference. Furthermore (and I made this clear at the beginning of the post) I was making a clear link to the oft-used ‘carbon-neutral’ footprint. ‘Race’ is a noun and therefore not the right word to use.
      3) You make a lovely pain in the ass but I’m afraid this post isn’t about being globally aware or culturally appreciative. It is about racism – pure and simple – and that is spelled out strongly (for me) in the second part of the post. It is, to be fair, aimed at British people and is a dig at the EDL but I would have thought it was pretty clear for non-Brits too!

      The post moderately jovially suggest our racial prejudices need to be ‘neutral’ and that a good check is to just how many people you know from different racial groups. I’m not suggesting that as a proper indicator of racism though – merely a dig. But the second part, ‘joking aside’, is meant in all earnestness.

      And one day I really am going to piss you off when I tackle the Oxford comma… 😛

      Like

      • Ruby Tuesday says:

        I think some of this may just turn out to be cultural (oh, irony). “Race” is used in this country (and here Merriam-Webster also backs me up, Oxford may disagree, but hey, that would prove my point) to refer to your physical heritage: Caucasian, African-American, Asian, etc. So by my definition of race, white English, French, and Germans are all the same race (to pull from your examples).

        But white Americans, black Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Americans, what-have-you-Americans identify much more by family and relationships and community, and much less by what I define as race or even culture. I don’t know if I’m conveying well, I’m tired as – – – – .

        I took my words of “nationality-neutral” from your post because you did use the example of many different countries which, by my (and Merriam-Webster’s) definition, are (predominantly) of the same race.

        Regarding point two, I’m willing to compromise with racially-neutral. I believe this is another language barrier of British-English versus American-English.

        Third thing: I read more into it, or perhaps more rightly I read it and jumped numberless steps ahead in my words without giving you the benefit of my though process (it wouldn’t be a benefit, it would be scary). My words spoke to and about the causes of racism, nationalism, global isolationism — whatever the term, I hope you see where I truly believe we’re talking about the same thing with different language. Point being, those causes are fear, ignorance, a lack of understanding and empathy. Racism is never pure and it is never simple, Ken, and neither are the answers to it. They are big and complex and intricate and to truly solve the problem, it needs to be addressed accordingly. It’s like tackling a disease at the cellular level as opposed to treating and controlling symptoms. The former cures the patient, the latter makes him happy and functional, but ultimately still unwell.

        And yes, I very much got that you had the EDL in mind, and that this post was completely directed at Brits. But the problem is not exclusively a British one, and I chose to tackle what I felt I could as an American. If you think a moment on that, isn’t it more-or-less the greater point? We’re talking about a global perspective, and maybe this has become a bit of a learning opportunity for the both of us. I failed to consider my knowledge of you as a very intelligent and thoughtful man, and perhaps ask about your choice of the word “race” when it is clearly such a wrong one from my perspective. You in your turn didn’t catch a similar point in me, that I usually choose my words with absolute precision, so if I found race so completely misnomered I must have very firm grounds.

        We can go ahead and blame my mono for the whole communication snafu, but nonetheless I personally find it a great experience of exchanging knowledge of language and culture. We are the world in miniature.

        Also, I think we have a very different definition of “knowing” someone — rather I have a much different definition than most of the world. When I did have a fb account I had about 60 friends, and probably 45 of them were family members (which is its own brand of quiet insanity). But this could turn into a great deal about my personal life and how I choose to define relationships. . . So I’ll leave it at that.

        I hope I sufficiently covered things. I used enough words that I ought to have done! But I certainly cannot claim to be in a fit state, as I’m only a shade off of delirious at this point.

        Like

        • I too used the Merriam-Webster as well as the OED – still quite satisfied I am not in error and feel no need to compromise with the adverb you suggest. There is no loss of communication through using either and the rules for use of hyphens are not fixed but fluid and open to personal choice. There is no consensus of opinion on the matter and not even your masterful prose can change that Ruby 😛

          You picked up on the English, French and German bit but failed to notice that they are squashed together under the ‘1 each’ part at the end. You seem to dismiss the first in the list: Chinese, Indian, Indonesian, Nigerian and Brazilian which, while being nationalities, are about as ethnically diverse as you get (especially if you include one I missed – American – to represent the Caucasian side of things, though I appreciate that’s taking liberties).

          I think the clue to your misunderstanding lies in the number of hyphenates you used to refer Americans. The mixing of races, while it does occasionally occur, is really not very common throughout the UK and Europe. Instead, racial tensions exist – I maintain, and argue in this post – because different groups don’t mix.

          So while I used nationalities to keep things simple (plus that’s how Wikipedia did it which I used as my source document) I think this post is pretty clearly about racial prejudice – NOT about national identity. I’m afraid in the rest of the world (I include my working knowledge of Asia here) does think much more in terms of race and culture rather than, as you suggest for Americans “family and relationships and community”.

          You also said “Racism is never pure and it is never simple” – I disagree. While the causes, the history and the political intrigue behind prejudice might be long and complex (they certainly are in Bangladesh – it’s all very horribly tangled) the motive and base root of racism IS very simple. Ultimately it comes down to fear of ‘other’ and lack of respect for one’s fellow human beings. I passionately believe that and am not going to be swayed on this point. Prejudice CAN be cut with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel in but a single generation – I’ve seen it happen.

          As for your comment on the ‘learning opportunity’ I won’t comment in return other than I’m glad you feel you have learned something from all of this.

          Finally, as for ‘knowing’ someone. I’m not sure that’s much of a point. The number was an illustration, nothing more (except it did allow me a small dig at the EDL who, quite honestly, I loathe with every inch of my being).

          Like

      • Ruby Tuesday says:

        Oh, by the way. . . You do know that carbon is a noun, dear boy, don’t you? 😛

        (Or an element, truly, but we were on to parts of speech.)

        Like

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