How Racism Came To Britain
Why did people come to Britain?
Once upon a time there was a land suurounded by water. By the 14th and 15th centuries, everyone from the higherst to the lowest in society had to live on what the pesants produced from the land. And what with plagues and warfare, and bad harvests – and the greediness of their lords, there was often not enough to go round. Then some looked to the stars, some looked to gold. Explorers began to travel the world in search of precious goods to trade in. The islands of the Caribbean and the Mainland of Latin America were about to be discovered. They were well organized and higly developed agricultural societies. The newcomers were interested in gold and silver, they didn’t care what they did to get it for themselves. Most of the peoples of the Caribbean islands were wiped out.
Within a century the invaders had pundered the islands of their wealth. Some of them didn’t go back to get some profit from there and they grow crops to sell Europe. But there were not enough labor. English sent ships to Africa where textiles and tools were exchanged for people caught and bought as slaves by the white traders. They were forced to leave their own land to go to the Americas and the Caribbean. They were forced to labour to grow tobacco, sugar and cotton, which were then loaded on to the ships. These ships then sail for ports in Europe to sell the goods on board. The whites running the slavetrade had to develop an argument that would allow them to be Christians and slavetraders at the same time. A slave is a thing, a commodity, a piece of property – to be owned, used, disposed of. It has no history except at its point of entry into the market, no definition except on a bill of sale. And since they were commodities and not humans, they had no place beside the white man on earth or in heaven. This system of trading was known as “Triangular Trade”.
For generations people were bred into slavery. Bur thet always fought against it any way they could escaping to the mountains or burning down the plantations till it became increasingly difficult for Britain to profit from slavery and it began to withdraw. Britain then looked to India.
Britain sistematically exploited the lands and labour of black peoples in India to furnish its own development into an isdustrial society. Britain had always wanted to get hold of India’s beautiful cottons and silks, Indigo, spices and finely made goods. The British East India Company was set up in the 17th century to do this. By a mixture of trickery and warfare it took control over the trade with India. Gradually Britain gathered wealth to finance its own industry, especially textiles. As it did so it no longer, wanted to buy India’s fine cottons. Now it wanted to keep them out and force India to buy British made cottons – for by this time the British Government had taken direct control over India from the East India Company (1857). Soon cotton was being woven in Manchester for sale to India. And India turned from being a producer of beautiful goods into a market for inferior cotton goods. As Britain and other European countries grew richer and more powerful, they forced this system of producing the raw materials they wanted for their industries onto vast regions of the world. One such region was Africa, which produces raw materials such as palm oil, sisal, ground nuts, cocoa beans, timber and rubber. Most important of all to Europe were Africa’s minerals; gold, silver, diamonds, copper, manganese which were extracted in vast quantities by Europe. And by the end of the 19th century, the African continent was carved up between the European powers. Britain took the lion’s share. Colonialism had become a world wide system and racism became most highly developed.
THE IDEAS BEHIND RACISM :
How a small countr like Britain could hold two thirds of the world in thrall?
- Force, but it alone wasn’t enough to convince people that the British had a right to rule them.
- Ideas are also weapons, and the British used them shrewdly.
- To make subject people a party to their subjection by getting them to believe that their customs, religions, culture and language were all inferior to the colonialists.
For instance, via education, via religion, via customs, via language and literature.
Whole theories were developed in which different peoples were graded according to their status. Years of research, which is far too obscure for you to follow, reveals these facts:
- White male Europeans are born to lead + rule.
- Africans and Chinese can manage simple tasks.
- Other people are doomed to extinction.
Local people who fought in defence of land and lives were always called “savage” or “treacherous” while the white aggressors are always referred to as “heroes”. These ideas were sharpened and made into sciences with fancy names: eugenics, anthropometry, anthropology.
Even as the European powers took over vast territories of Africa and Asia, the peoples of those countries began to resist more and more strongly, for their land and resources were being stolen form them.
The form of resistance alters as the nature of Colonialism varies. Three form of resistance:
- At the level of ideology: Pan Africanism. This was a movement which threw off the ideas of white superiority that had been dinned into people under colonial rule. It stressed instead solidarity between African, Afro-Caribbean and Afro-American peoples, across colonial boundaries. It called for African liberation from white rule.
- At the level of mass action: The British presence in India incited mass civil disobediance in the late 1920s. Indian determination to regain control of their country and lives was greater than all the British weapons.
- At the level of armed struggle: One of the first guerilla wars fought successfully for independence and freedom was that of the land and freedom army – the Mau Mau in Kenya.
The strength of resistance around the world was such that it became too costly for Britain to put down and by the end of the 1939/45 war Britain was unable to hold onto its colonies much longer, and was reluctantly granting independence. Not however before the damage had been done.
This was the one of the reasons why black people had to leave their own countries.
In the 1939/45 war many men had been killed-Britain’s economy needed labour quickly to keep it alive. From around 1950, black people began to be used as pawns in a new game devised by the British. It was called “You Can’t win!” Blacks went Britain to work and return with saved wages. But they didn’t save enough wages and they called their families to come Britain.
RACISM BECOMES RESPECTABLE :
At first, when Britain wanted all the workers it could get, it passed the 1948 Nationality Act. This gave all commonwealth citizens equality and rights to come and go. The labour of black workers was used to build the new Britain cheaply and keep its services running.
In the meaning time as the boom of the 50s ended, the labour power of black workers was no longer needed and so laws to cut down immigration were passed by successive labour and conservative governments and with each party vying with the other as to who could have the fewest black people in Britain.
RACIST BRITAIN :
There was enough work for all in the early 1950’s. Black people got work – but on very different terms to white workers. They were paid less for the same work, they were asked to work longer hours, they were denied promotion and asked to work below their qualifications.
Continuing discrimination meant that the black community took the initative for change themselves. Often they unionised a factory and called for strike action over conditions of work and racism.
Black people were brought into Britain as workers – but no provision was made for where they should live, Racist often blocked access to private housing. Black families got offered the worst housing. In December 1984, homeless families – many of them black – occupied camden town hall for a month after a Bengali mother and her two children died in a fire in a run. Down bed and breakfast hotel where the council had temporily placed them. Many homeless families have to live this in a number of towns and boroughs for long periods of time. There were a lot of incidents.
Instead of provision being available for Asian children in their local area, they were bussed to other areas for schooling. They were labelled “educationally subnormal” were sent to the lower classes in the school and often to schools for “maled justed” children. Both these issues led to struggles in the black communities against racism in education and better provision for all.
Today the racism in schooling continues new phrases and words for the same ideas.
Ever since they came to Britain, black people have had to contend with the racism of the police and the missue of police powers against them. Black youth have to prove they’re innocent of whatever the police accuse them of. It’s not the police who have to prove them guilty. While police swamp black events by force of numbers, they are nowhere to be seen when it comes to racist attacks.
IMMIGRATION CONTROLS :
When man came to work in Britain, women and their children applied to join them and they waited 19 months for an interview. But the Entry Clearance Officers are obessed with details that don’t fit together, eager to find a reason to refuse entry. And until 1979 women were forced to have internal examinations to verify “virginity”.
PASS LAW SOCIETY :
Blacks has to produce documents all the time for little details of life like housing, health care, education…
In the media news about black people is often presented as bad news. They are used as jokes in shows. Their image are used in the advertising of products, etc.
VIOLENT BRITAIN :
In 1981 the home office reported that West Indias are 36 times more likely, and Asians are 50 times more likely to be attacked as a result of racial violence in Briatin. Extreme right wing political groups are organizing and encouraging racial violence. Groups such as the national front and the British movement are at the forefront. The N.F. and B.M. believe that Britain should only be lived in by white British people.
Today in Britain the national front aims to intimadate, terrorize and violate the black community till they can stand the pressure no longer and leave.
Black communities have organized themselves to resist racist attacks in the light of police indifference. However, the police are eager to arrest black youth for defending their communities. The resulting trials were long and protracted. But in spite of bias from the judiciary. The jury has often found in favour of people defending their own communities.