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Politicking 'pushing race issues under the carpet'

27 October 2010

Manuela Helena da Costa-Fernandes

The new political landscape is being used to divert us from looking at the entrenched inequality that punctuates British life, Gargi Bhattacharyya told the audience at the 2010 Claudia Jones memorial lecture.

The professor of sociology at Aston University, Birmingham, said:

"Although there are 27 Black and minority ethnic (BME) members of parliament, there is very little sense that the new intake feels any responsibility to black communities.
"If anything, some of them appear to rely on their distance and difference from BME communities as the main qualification for office."

More than 60 people gathered to hear Gargi Bhattacharyya's lecture on "Race/Diversity and the new political landscape: What now for the politics of race?" at the London Canal Museum. The evening was organised by the NUJ's Black members council. 

She said:

"Britain has not been able to talk seriously about race since the Lawrence Inquiry. That event allowed a brief moment of reflection and debate – but the backlash began almost immediately. ow racism is off the agenda.
"We rarely mount systematic critiques of the working of racism now – and campaigning appears to begin and end with legalistic pleas to the state."

Gargi Bhattacharyya warned that there is there is a tsunami of destruction rushing towards minority communities in Britain:

"...while we retreat into increasingly narrow enclaves of ethnic belonging or fantasies of post-racial social mobility. If we don't wake up and remember how race still matters – for political analysis, for community organisation, for just being able to grasp what is happening – our communities could be pushed back to the seventies in the flickering of an eye.”

Lionel Morrison, joint chair of the Black members council, thanked Gargi Bhattacharyya for:

"...incisively unravelling this debate when so many of the goal posts are being moved. Her challenging and thought-provoking lecture put into sharp perspective the significant role the media and black media workers can play in nurturing a multicultural society."

Tags: , gargi bhattacharyya, race, claudia jones, black members