THE BLOG

Buffer - Not A Tenable Position!

14/11/2016 11:37

In theory, the public representatives and service providers should have the capacity and political responsibility to make choices and respond to all local and national needs and demands.

However, the reality in most cases is that of uniformity of approach based on conventional norms and values. Consequently, the political representatives and 'professionals' at various levels, while 'celebrating' diversity, argue that variety create 'anomalies'.

It is this cultural norm that defines ethnic minorities as an 'anomaly' as well as the premise of any specific provisions for this client group. For example, the race relations legislation confirmed and strengthened this in 1960s and created a structural mechanism of control and containment of ethnic minority aspirations through race relations bodies and advisers, using the dynamics of resources and age old strategy of 'divide and rule'.

The mid 1980s demonstrated the horrors of Section 11 community consultations that were being experienced by black/Asian people up and down the country. Not only did this process exposed the flawed and distorted premise of Section 11 funding* and its use to reinforce the problematic definition of black and Asian people but very importantly the irrelevance and insignificance of the race relations bodies and advisers and their equal opportunity policy counterparts in government/ local government establishments.

The national outcry against the invidious collusion of the race related bodies and personnel to maintain the structural status quo, discredited their existence finally.

However, the demise of the race relations industry saw the emergence of another industry to fill the gap - that is, the growth of ethnic minority-specific community organisations which claim to provide care and support to their respective communities through the institutionally defined and state funded initiatives.

This suits well to the institutions and authorities as the marginalized community organizations not only take the pressure off them but work as buffer between the communities and the institutions. Moreover, in many cases the government hand-outs (grants) to the organisations help to glean the community feelings and attitudes in order to exercise state control as indicated by the government's discredited 'Prevent' strategy.

As far as one knows, there is no credible national research to evaluate the impact of these community organizations on the quality of life of the targeted ethnic minority communities, given that they mostly deal or give an illusion to deal with the effects rather than addressing the cause. Similarly, there is no evaluation of the effectiveness of same race officers or representatives in looking after and dealing with their respective communities.

While many organizations invite complaints of inequality, discrimination, hate crimes or Islamophobia which primarily helps them to fulfil their funding criteria, they lack the ability and conviction to address 'why' such inadequacies - for example, the dynamics of racism - even after experiencing what happened during the last London mayor election or during the EU referendum campaign. No courage to question why racial harassment has been subsumed under 'hate crime'!

With the exception of a few, hard to find Muslim community organizations that publicize tackling Islamophobia joining hands with non-Muslim active national pressure groups rigorously addressing racism, Islamophobia etc as confirmed by many recent marches and rallies in London.

Furthermore, some of the ethnic minority community organizations are quite happy to go along with what once Hazel Blears wished to rename ethnic minority groups along US lines because such marginalization enhances the organisations chances of securing special identity and specific recognition. Ms Blears, then head of a government commission on how to better integrate minorities, said that she would ask whether they would rather be termed "British-Asian", or "Indian-British" rather than "Muslim" or "Asian".

Apparently to please, many ethnic minority collusive community organizations, including some Muslim organizations, fail to assert that we can do without adding this or that to 'British' and need to send out a strong message that we might look different and have different needs but we are all British, and that we wish a united and not a divided Britain with many brands of British people.

Also, not enough challenge to those, whoever they may be, whose interests are not well served if integration is really achieved since it damages their chances to acquire marginal funding, recognition and socio-political positions, and who ride on the back of the 'minorities' for political and other gains, showing no concern for giving a message that once an immigrant, always an immigrant.

Taking the example of Islamophobia that has significantly increased recently and is now a major national problem, there seems to be a competition between certain Muslim organizations (out of about 90 such organizations) for reporting these incidents to them, though without assuring any measurable outcome. This dependency model is justified by claiming that Muslim community feels more confidence in reporting these incidents to their own community leaders/outlets - a sort of separatist mind.

On the other hand, an empowerment model would be to encourage reporting the incidents of Islamophobia to the police, local authorities, MPs, borough Councillors etc who have the responsibility to address these, and not only this but they could also address why people might lack confidence in reporting these incidents to them.

It would be sound to expect that the intervening ethnic minority community groups, including the Muslim groups, would follow the example of the mainstream pressure groups to build on their cumulative, cooperative and collective response signifying the community's experience, their learning, their thinking and above all their solidarity. Therefore, they would not seek funding by any external bodies and by definition would be constituted to work for social justice, using individual, collective and communal resources to support their work.

*Section 11 of the Local Government Act 1966, granted funding to local authorities who in the opinion of Secretary of State were required to make special provisions in the exercise of any of their functions in consequence of the presence within their areas of substantial numbers of immigrants.

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