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Friday, 14 December, 2001, 11:48 GMT
Race riots report: Your reaction?
British communities are leading "parallel lives" because of ethnic divisions, according to a report into race riots in the north of England this summer.

A series of four studies looking at the disturbances in Bradford, Oldham and Burnley, warn of a lack of contact between different ethnic groups.

The reports says right-wing extremists played a part in stirring up trouble but says the underlying causes run much deeper including high youth unemployment and a feeling is disaffection with society.

Among the suggestions given, the report says immigrants should have to swear an oath of allegiance to show their "clear primary loyalty" to Britain.

What do you think of these suggestions? Should ethnically diverse communities work, live and go to school together?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

All these areas are run by complacent Labour councils with guaranteed majorities

Paul T Horgan, UK
I think that we can perhaps be looking too scientifically into these divisions. There are also divisions between the bingo hall community and the opera house community. People also seem to be shying away from the fact that all these areas are run by complacent Labour councils with guaranteed majorities and thus have no incentive to change things. That is the real meaning of weak leadership.
Paul T Horgan, UK

I'm not convinced by the oath of allegiance argument. People make and break promises all the time - look at the divorce statistics. Also, there are a lot of first generation immigrants who have lived here all their lives who would find this uncomfortable, notably my Irish friends who have lived here most of their lives, love the country, but in no way could pledge allegiance to the Queen, Bless her!
Frank W, UK

I find it quite funny to hear western views on this matter, and yet if you go to the Middle East and check how the western immigrants have blended into the local way of life you might be surprised at how many anti-social habits they have brought with them. They also have no apparent interest in swearing allegiance to their oil-producing hosts.
Jan, UK

Most immigrants in the UK would welcome integration into the way of life, but up t now what guidance have they had? Very little. Had immigrants been given guidance over the past 20 years instead of being shoved into communal areas how different things could be now. It's not exactly rocket science.
Adrian, UK

It is empty words, political correctness and inaction that got us into this position in the first place

Vic Price, Scotland
The effects of separating children in schools on religious grounds can be seen in the west of Scotland and Northern Ireland. I would study this example very carefully before advocating this practice. As for swearing an oath of allegiance, it is empty words, political correctness and inaction that got us into this position in the first place.
Vic Price, Scotland

It's ironic that the British government report uses the words "race" riots and talks about "race" relations. Our societies have a tendency to shy away from the debate on misguided religious influences. Race wasn't the problem in the British riots. It was religious and cultural influences. There were no Blacks or general Asians participating in the riots - it was Pakistani Muslim youth that had become disillusioned in the UK due to the extremist teachings of a few Islamic clerics.
Amit, USA

I think that an oath of allegiance is a good idea. I am not so wilfully naive as to believe that the people who would swear to it would necessarily mean it but it would have more meaning to existing citizens of the UK. All too often immigrants are seen as coming here to have a better way of life whilst pretending they still live in the country they came from. I also think that those who rant on about how it is wrong to swear allegiance to a geographical location have missed the point entirely. It is not about swearing loyalty to the hills of the Lake District, it is about swearing allegiance to the people of the UK and the way of life developed in that country. It is about people showing that they have chosen the UK for the right reasons.
Sean, Ireland

When you leave your home country for another you have to accept the rules in order to get the privileges of being allowed to live there. Some are written and some are unwritten. The key is conforming, working hard, paying taxes, being socially responsible. They are endearing qualities that any immigrant can aspire to and I know this from first-hand experience. Any immigrant who doesn't like the situation in their new country should leave, just as they did their home country. Immigration is the risk you take to better yourself and sometimes it doesn't pay off - at which point you move on, start afresh and try for something better. Having a riot will do nothing for you or your cause.
Gavin Pearson, English in Detroit, USA

The debate about whether or not immigrants should swear allegiance to the UK is missing the point. Any Muslim's primary allegiance is to God and to their religion, wherever in the world they may be. Their secondary allegiance is to their family, whether they are here in the UK or elsewhere in the world. These things are not difficult to understand and not in fact particularly difficult to accept - unless you are someone who does not hold these same human priorities. Asking a Muslim to swear allegiance to a geopolitical entity we call the "United Kingdom" above allegiance to God is a joke. Any true Christian or Jew would agree. The culture of the society in which you live is really the spice in the main dish of faith, and as far as I can tell, curry is now as British as fish and chips.
Andrew Hunt, UK

Far from being divisive, wouldn't an oath of allegiance give everyone a common ground to build a nation together?

Martin Wood, UK
Far from being divisive, wouldn't an oath of allegiance give everyone a common ground to build a nation together? It shows a basic acceptance that immigrants want to come to Britain to build a better life for themselves and the community in which they live. It should be designed to strengthen a national identity across all cultures, not as an excuse for further so-called racial debate.
Martin Wood, UK

I am a British citizen now living in Canada. I am from Bradford. I have also lived in the USA. I have three children in the school system in Canada. Every morning they have to sing the national anthem at school and swear allegiance to Canada and the Queen. In America they had to do the same. This instils pride in the country in which they live. Canada also being bilingual they have had to learn French. We lived in Montreal, which is a very diverse city but with one common goal - to be Canadian. We accepted when we moved abroad that we would have to be Canadian and we have. The riots in Bradford are due to frustration as people do not seem to know where they belong and they should live in the country where their loyalties lie. The British Government needs to become very firm on its immigration process and basically say that to enter or live in Britain one must become British. The Queen is the head of the English Church. All schools in Britain should be Christian, we do not have a Muslim queen. People should be integrated and not allowed to segregate in one area .
A Helm Canada

As one who emigrated to the USA 20 years ago, I can confirm that I now speak American, think American and am a proud American. It was not difficult at all even with the language barrier! When in Rome, etc. If people want to take advantage of the freedom that the UK offers then they should embrace British values and culture. If not why go there in the first place other than to live off the British taxpayer or undermine the British way of life, what's left of it anyway!
John USA

I guess that this whole furore is aimed at distracting the media attention from the bigger picture this week - the attempt to push through draconian anti-terror legislation that has nothing to do with terrorists, instead giving even more power to our leaders.
Laurence, UK

My wife recently applied for naturalization as a British citizen. We downloaded the Home Office 'Guide AN' from their website and guess what? The second last paragraph states " are not a citizen of a country of which Her Majesty is Queen, you will be asked to take an oath of allegiance". In another part of the guide it states that you either have to be married to a British citizen or "have a sufficient knowledge of the English language (or Welsh or Scottish Gaelic)". It seems to me the people at the Home Office who compiled this report don't even know their own requirements. In the context of the riots we saw during the summer the question is largely irrelevant anyway. Does anybody seriously think swearing allegiance will stop these sort of riots? It had more to do with bored young men with no football to watch than any feelings of not being British.
Mick UK

I've felt for a long time that faith-based schools are a bad idea, now this confirms it. It's time to abolish all schools that have a religious foundation. I'm thinking as much of the role that single denomination schools play in perpetuating division in Northern Ireland as of this report. I now live in the USA and here the have got it about right.
Mike Ross, USA/UK

I was born and brought up in Uganda prior to migrating to the UK. I was struck by the lack of understanding and knowledge by the white community in Uganda who could not speak nor attempted to learn the national language Swahili. It is very easy to say "when in Rome", however it is very rare to see a white person attempting to integrate into the society of their hosts.

Learning English should be the first step for any immigrants in the UK. Culture will come with time, learning from everyday experiences. The English in Spain still cry for their fish and chips and pubs. Have they integrated into Spanish culture? I for one have taken the best of both worlds and have created my own world where I am able to mix with all cultures and acquire a level of knowledge, tolerance and understanding. This has allowed me to study and progress in my profession
Laila, UK

I would rather people considered what it is to be human than what it is to be British.
Louis, UK

Create a bit of employment and wealth in these areas and the situation will improve. Maybe then people won't be so full of despair that they feel they haven't got anything to lose.
Dave Irving, England

Laila has a good point. There are small communities of ex-pat Brits who do not learn the local lingo. For myself, I worked abroad for a few years and made a point of learning the local language. Not only was it impractical to try to insist on communicating in English, I felt it would be disrespectful of me no to learn the native tongue. That said, I suspect that very few of those who rioted were not fluent in English. I rather think their complaint was more fundamental than simply a lack of a common language.
Mark Headey, UK

Isolationism only creates and feeds prejudices

Peter, Finland
All the races and religions of the UK should indeed work and go to school together. Isolationism only creates and feeds prejudices against other races. I personally have a Muslim friend and we met by mutual job interest. An oath of allegiance might sound a bit exaggerated but I do feel that, since most immigrants choose their destination country, it's an assurance that one does indeed want to live in that country.
Peter, Finland

If a person obeys the law and pays his taxes, then he has the right to live as he chooses with no interference from others. To demand oaths of allegiance, or any kind of linguistic or cultural conformity is to deny everything that being British should stand for.
Mik, England

Everyone seems to think that integration into a different society or culture is necessarily a sudden, painful experience. For the first generation it is stressful, difficult and hard work. But the actual process of integration itself happens so gradually over time and generations that one day, years down the road, you realise have more in common with your adopted home than that of your birth. Learning the language and the social codes of behaviour are one necessary part of a long process. I emigrated to the US two years ago from the UK, but a few generations ago my family were French. You wouldn't know that from talking to me.
Ruth, USA/UK

I was born in the UK by Nigerian parents but I am Nigerian not British. I feel Nigerian. I do not want to become British in any shape or form. I am proud to be Nigerian. God bless Africa.
Ademola Adejolu, London, UK

Immigrants do not embrace being British is because you guys have made it something to be ashamed of

Peter C Kohler, USA
Maybe one of the reasons that immigrants do not embrace being British is because you guys have made it something to be ashamed of. It was only recently that some inane report asserted that the very word had "racist connotations". What? Many contributors to this site seem to be so negative about your own country. You accept the revisionist twaddle that Britain is somehow responsible for all the ills of the Third World through the Empire. The fact is that the Empire did more good for the world than any single entity. How do you think slavery was abolished? Who built the roads and infrastructure in many of the world's countries? Who started the first schools, built hospitals and established a judiciary system? The British. So maybe if you guys can start celebrating being British, newcomers to your country will be encouraged to love it too.
Peter C Kohler, USA

As usual the white working class will be expected to send their children to multi-ethnic schools, whilst Tony Blair, Harriet Harman and the other middle class Labour party apparatchiks run a mile from them. Obviously the middle class's right to choose is completely different from the working class's right.
Mike, Middlesbrough, England

Reactionaries are trying to cloak their racism in the colours of patriotism

Hans Baumann, United States
This recommendation is institutionalised racism. Why should a foreigner have to pledge allegiance to the UK so they that may live there? To me, it sounds as if reactionaries are trying to cloak their racism in the colours of patriotism.
Hans Baumann, United States

There is no understanding between the communities and the reports into the riots hit the nail bang on the head. The local C of E school where my children go celebrate major religious festivals. They get members of the local Christian, Muslim, Sikh and Jewish communities to come in and explain what the festival is all about and sometimes do a mock ceremony. The only thing this will breed is understanding, and perhaps this needs to be done on a much wider scale.
Jason, Manchester, England

It is not about coexistence, it is about cultural conquest

Robert Morpheal, Canada
What has stirred up growing ethnic and racial tensions in Canada, and many parts of the world is that new immigrants expect special privileges, special treatment and added rights that even long time residents do not have. They come demanding and sometimes getting a higher status for their foreign culture, beliefs and ways of living. They refuse to assimilate and they refuse to truly respect, but instead try to conquer and overcome by means of imposing their differences. It is not about coexistence in those instances, it is about cultural conquest, and those of us who claim UK roots, Canadian or American affinity, often feel besieged and endangered by that trend. There is a growing desire to preserve our culture, ways of life, freedoms, against their infringements against us.
Robert Morpheal, Canada

Some British people are very racist. In most cases this stems from a lack of understanding of history. They seem to think that they have done the immigrants a huge favour by allowing them into their countries, little do they realise that the reason they are here is because their grandfathers plundered the wealth of other nations and systematically destroyed and oppressed many countries and nations.
Shak, UK

Your primary loyalty is not to the arbitrary geographical accident you call a country

Leigh, USA (UK originally)
Your "clear primary loyalty" is to yourself, your principles, your morals - not the arbitrary geographical accident you call a country. You need something more substantial than that to create trust and harmony - tolerance and understanding is missing from all cultures in the UK.
Leigh, USA (UK originally)

Prove the old ways are irrelevant and that by peaceful democratic means we can all make a significant difference

Mike Felse, North West England
I grew up in a Yorkshire coal mining family, surrounded by problems of poverty, pit strikes, industrial diseases, wife battering, poor housing and of course a mixed faith school. When the first ethnic family moved into the colliery, suspicion spread like a computer virus, even transmitted through my school. My parents would warn "Don't have anything to do with them" and I totally trusted everything they told me. In my 20s I met another ethnic family in Doncaster. To my amazement, these were really friendly, interesting people with amazing stories of their own struggles, different to mine, more fascinating. With the greatest respect for my non-travelled, ex-coal miner father, I say he was wrong.

Oldham is similar in beliefs to my mining village: ignorant about other cultures, needing reasons to respect and trust others, overdue to rewrite their guides on neighbourhood renewal. Our multi-cultural society is ever changing and so must the leadership. I call for Councillors and MPs to retire at the age of 65 and for everyone under 40 to join any political party they believe in. Prove the old ways are irrelevant and that by peaceful democratic means we can all make a significant difference. I wish Oldham every success in re-building an integrated community. Just remember you will be handing the town down to your future generation, so do not forget to consult them.
Mike Felse, North West England

The separation of children at school actively grows hate and distrust - look at Holy Cross

Gary Penton, Northern Ireland
Tony Blair is so stupid for supporting the growth of faith schools. The inevitable result of such a policy would be disaster in the future. Has the situation in Northern Ireland not been a disaster for the past 30 years? The separation of children at school actively grows hate and distrust - look at Holy Cross. Education should be secular and integrated not religious and divided. Highly articulate, right-thinking people from both cultures seem to think on a parallel basis but never meet. Surely this is what we are looking to propagate? Our politicians seem to be totally mad. I must admit I despair.
Gary Penton, Northern Ireland

Enoch Powell was right. He predicted that such a mix had potential for "rivers of blood". Of course, the trendies ensured he was castigated.
Nigel Rees, Briton in USA

If allegiance is demanded from people then it is useless; true allegiance can only be given voluntarily

Gordon Lewis, UK
Are white people going to have to swear an oath of allegiance? I don't care whether immigrants keep their own culture and language or not. I would only hope that they like and respect the country and its people and obey the law. If allegiance is demanded from people then it is useless; true allegiance can only be given voluntarily.
Gordon Lewis, UK

The problem is not only race or ethnic origin but one of wealth and poverty. Many of these minorities settled and live in cities that were thriving in days gone by. Now with the decline of mills and factories there is high unemployment and not much social activity in these cities. Trying to hold onto customs and traditions from their roots, there has arisen a confused generation. This tension results in distrust between communities and an explosion into riots. More mixing of communities and a focussed effort by Elders and the local councils will result in better understanding.
Arif Sayed, Dubai, UAE

The real source of the riots will never go away, and that's that

Christian Lavin, England
The view of both communities' racists being ignorant of each other is a quite a dry argument now. Most of the Asians in Bradford that took part in the riots are third generation British Asians and can't be seen as being ignorant of the culture they grew up in. The cry of ignorance is dubious as we can't really be suggesting that the white and Asian populations in Bradford are all idiots. I personally would like to give them more credit than that. I think that the real source of the riots will never go away, and that's that. Though whites and Asians can live together, many do not want to be integrated. The white population must accept that they have to change their way of life and that they no longer live in the Britain in which their grandparents lived, and this is the reality.
Christian Lavin, England

Who exactly are these 'immigrants' who are going to be taught English, or British citizenship? Immigration from outside Europe is at a very low level, so Blunkett's measure is unlikely to have any bearing on the level of English speaking or 'assimilation' in existing Asian or black communities, many of whom have lived in this country for longer than I have. Is Blunkett proposing that Asian and black people who are already British citizens should have to take these tests - surely not? What would happen to them if they failed - would they be deported? Would people coming to live in Britain from other EU countries have to take the Blunkett test? Like a lot of this government's policies, it's intended more for public consumption than to have any real bearing on any problems, real or imagined.
Chris Lewis, UK

Black people in America speak the same language as whites and still riot when their community feels angry and marginalised

Sunny Hundal, London, UK
More integration doesn't mean less riots. Less grievances of a community means less riots. The black people in America speak the same language as whites and still riot when their community feels angry and marginalised. Asians don't like to riot just because they don't know the whites. They will riot if the police are racist towards them, and the white community around them treats them like second-class citizens. Most of us young Asians are saddened by the government's delusional response and think they still have no clue on how to make sure such riots don't happen again.
Sunny Hundal, London, UK

My parents came to this country as refugees immediately after the war when there very few foreigners in the country. They had to carry an "Alien Registration Card" and report to the police regarding their movements and their address. They did this and did not complain. They were happy to have found a haven after losing their homes during the war. We lived in a mission hut until I was 11. Outside toilet, cold water, two miles to a bus stop and one mile to the nearest shop. Difficult, yes. Rioting, no.

As soon as you allow another race to behave differently and be treated differently from the indigenous, problems are created. People begin to believe they are different and need to be treated differently. Come here and live as the rest of society. Contribute and nobody will point the finger of difference at you.
Wanda Szablowska, UK

I was born here and there's no way I'd swear an 'oath of allegiance', so why should immigrants have to?
Ben Drake, York, UK

Why not launch an inter-faith movement in Britain to bring together communities belonging to different religions so that each group learns to appreciate and respect the other's faith and point of view. For example, during Christmas Christians, white or coloured, can invite a few Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus to their homes and explain the significance of the Christian faith. Likewise, the Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus can follow suit when they celebrate their religious festivals. This gesture will not only promote communal harmony but also improve the race relations to a great extent be it in Bradford or Oldham.
Albert Devakaram, India

There is one fact that is totally overlooked by your correspondents and completely ignored by all politicians. It is this: Nobody ever asked the British people if they wanted to live in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-racial society. Had a referendum been held on this back in the l950's, l960's or 1970's the answer would almost certainly have been 'No.' Were it to be asked now, it would definitely be a resounding 'No'. It does not matter what ones views are on the subject, the fact is that the people of a country should be represented by their politicians, not dictated to by them.
J Cameron, London, England

To J Cameron in London:

Do you really think the British Empire could have existed without large-scale exploitation of other countries?

Rustam Roy, England
No one asked the Indians whether they wanted hordes of British people infesting their country and stealing and looting from it for two centuries. No-one asked the native Americans whether they wanted greedy European settlers who would one day almost wipe them out. Accept the world as it is and don't whinge about realities if you don't understand them. Immigrants from developing countries come to the west because your governments realised some time ago that it needs them and that it has a moral duty to accept them. Do you really think the British Empire could have existed without large-scale exploitation of other countries?
Rustam Roy, England

The suggestion that religious schools are a major contributor to the mistrust between communities is laughable. I went exclusively to religious schools and was never taught that any culture or faith was superior to another. Many religious schools are mixed faith and have a great cultural and religious diversity, beyond the faith running the school.

Unemployment and poverty are the two single biggest reasons for the riots, which was then exploited by extremists in both white and Asian communities. Disaffected individuals looking for a reason for their situation found race to be a suitable tag to hang their grievances on, rather than looking at the real reason for their problems.
Nick, UK

English language lessons would help anyone anywhere in the world get a better job

Chris, UK
I hope Labour make a better job of this issue than previous Governments have. A factor being ignored in all the written matter here is the proportion of ethnic minorities living in the poorest areas of the country. The 80's idea of 'your neighbour is not your friend but your competitor' may be OK in the rich areas, but is the wrong message for the rest of us. English language lessons would help anyone anywhere in the world get a better job, just like learning Maths, but integration is about everyone having the right to a decent standard of living and being given some hope for the future whatever their colour or creed.
Chris, UK

I come from Aylesbury - we have had a large multi cultural community for decades. I fail to see why Oldham has riots when Aylesbury has Indians, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis all living in the same town with nowhere near the problems that Oldham seems to have. However, I'll admit that our employment rate is much better than the Northern parts of the UK so maybe there is truth in the theory that the unemployment levels were partly to blame for the riots.
Alex Banks, UK

In the light of the recent reports Tony Blair must now scrap his plans for single faith schools. Children benefit from going to school with a mixture of children from different faiths and cultures rather than developing an 'us and them' mentality from an early age. Racial and cultural tolerance can and must be encouraged and this will not happen by segregation.
Mike, Wales

Quotas in schools for people of different race or faith? What other crackpot ideas are there to come? What about quotas for atheists and agnostics? Nobody seems to consider their sensibilities. Would it not be far more sensible just to remove ALL religious instruction from state schools? People would still be free to take their children to worship on Friday, Saturday, Sunday or whenever, if they want. Otherwise, children would grow up NOT seeing differences, but enjoying the common ground among their neighbours.
Mike Campbell Ricketts, UK

We need to understand where the tensions come from on both sides of the community.

Scott, UK
I come from Oldham and am from the same age group that made up the main body of the rioters. Whatever sparked the riots we need to understand where the tensions come from on both sides of the community. The popular white-held view is that the Asian community gets better treatment from the council and government than white working class areas. This is seen to be realised in petty ways such as Asian areas getting public works of art whilst white areas fall in to dereliction. This is the sort of view the BNP played on in their election campaign. Asians rightly detect an undercurrent of racist views in Oldham. It is the white community that needs to be convinced its issues are not being ignored whilst politicians concentrate on high profile Asian community initiatives. When this happens the mindless racist thugs will have no support and their regular trips to Oldham from all over England will stop, which in turn will ease the Asian communities fears. The white community needs to be talked to and their questions and concerns however unfounded, talked about and disproved. Otherwise white working-class areas will continue to be a breeding ground for racial extremism and tensions in Oldham will continue. Ignoring them will not help.
Scott, UK

Many people blame religion or social unrest and racial hatred, but how many of those waving the fingers actually understand what various religions teach? Was it the case that in Bradford and Oldham there were clashes between Christians, Muslims and Jews? This debate is less about religion (Muslims, Jews and Christians will all agree that they are to love and respect each other, not fight) and more about the lack of education and contact between different racial and religious groups, especially in schools. Many adults could also use the same education it seems, based on events such as the recent riots.
Isaac Westwood, UK

Let us celebrate our differences and enjoy the customs of other cultures

Theresa Meehan, London,
Let us celebrate our differences and enjoy the customs of other cultures. Life is made interesting as we take the time to learn about each other and share ideas that may help us to understand and enhance our future here on earth. We are all one under God and what better time than the Christmas season to remember this sentiment?
Theresa Meehan, London, England

When I attended high school back in the early 1980s, there was a varied mixture of children from numerous ethnic backgrounds, who all mixed together well, with no problems arising as a result of racial prejudice. There is no need for separate single religion schools - one goes to school to learn. Whatever religion a person chooses to practise, they should be instructed in it away from school by their parents and their own church or place of worship.
Cathy Harrison, England

The government has commissioned many reports, which have confirmed all kinds of racism within our society; but David Blunkett has made a serious error in his statement. Immigrants that would fail his English language test did not cause the riots in Oldham. It is offensive to label second and third-generation ethnic minorities as immigrants.
M Alam, UK

One culture is not the answer, greater contact between different cultures promotes greater acceptance

Barney, UK
I think that children of all ethnicities should go to school together, but not as an attempt to transform them into a little race of Britons, as some would like to see. One culture is not the answer, greater contact between different cultures promotes greater acceptance. I for one welcome a multi-cultural Britain, and reject the idea of a homogenised country where everyone wears the same clothes, watches the same programmes, eats at the same fast-food restaurants.
Barney, United Kingdom

Whilst I won't pretend that there are easy fixes to this problem, maybe part of the answer is ensuring all immigrants can speak English and are taught more about the culture that they have decided to become part of. Surely this must help them settle into a strange country, so why is this policy being shouted down ?
Colin Mackay, UK

Colin, this policy is not being shouted down. It is a well-established Blunkett trick. State the obvious, common-sense solution. Then imply it is not happening, but should. No right-thinking person could disagree. I've seen Blunkett's statements in relation to what schools should be doing, when all along the overwhelming majority are already doing that!
Simon, England

Whilst there is little doubt that there are social problems in the likes of Bradford where I live, you can't ignore the fact that the riots were instigated and fuelled by a criminal element hell bent on creating disorder - and not much to do with the issue of race, which is too easily being used as an excuse for this criminal behaviour that was condemned and recognised as such by both white and Asian communities.
Graham Walker, England

The best way to do this is mixed education from a young age

Kristel Chambers, England
People often fear what is different and or unfamiliar. People need to feel as if they are part of the same society, and as such, need to embrace similar norms and values. The best way to do this is mixed education from a young age as well as other community projects. Religious education in schools should also try harder to diversify it's approach earlier on so that younger children can learn about the way other cultures live, and hopefully, with knowledge will come respect.
Kristel Chambers, England

I agree that it takes one culture to reduce inter-cultural tension. This doesn't just apply to race - it also applies to religion. Ban religious schools and introduce positive discrimination to ensure racial segregation in the classroom. This really does seem to be the age of the world characterised by clashes of culture: let's hope McDonald's, Microsoft, individual freedom and secularism win the day.
Richard N, UK

People have segregated themselves and need blame no one else but themselves.

Paul, Ireland
I am Irish but I lived in England for nearly ten years. One thing I noticed when I lived in the UK compared to other countries is that people move to the UK and refuse to accept any part of British culture, unlike in the US or even over in Ireland where people from other races keep their own cultures alive but also embrace the culture of the land they are living in. This does not happen in Britain. What it comes down to is that people have segregated themselves and need blame no one else but themselves.
Paul, Ireland

I am white/English, and I was growing up in a small village in Northamptonshire. My mother was Church of England, my father was not of any religious faith, and as a result, me, my brother and sister were brought up with an understanding of all religions and cultures. In fact both my parents encouraged us to often question certain concepts of religion, because there is so much unknown and it makes you more of an independent individual if you sometimes question rather than accept what is said. We were given the choice to follow and believe in what we wanted. Over the years I have come to follow no particular religion but have read the Bible and other religious texts which I found interesting. I had a gay uncle that I was close with and it was always accepted that my uncle had boyfriends instead of girlfriends, and before entering my teenage years I was of the understanding that it didn't matter about colour of skin or sexuality.

But after moving to a large town when I was twelve I was shocked by certain comments said by white kids at school about people of a certain colour or religion or their sexual preference. For a while it was a difficult time for me to adjust since I did not understand and was made fun of for being naive, (once got my face punched - not nice, believe me). I think it is a shame that people have to hate something that they don't understand, and have the arrogance to think they are better. I can't see why we just can't all get along and am happy to say that I now have friends from different religious backgrounds, cultures, and gay friends. Variety is the spice of life, and since that dreadful time at school when my eyes were opened to a world that suddenly seemed full of people that enjoyed being hurtful to each other, I have come to realise it is the ignorant people of this world who hate what is different. You cannot always make them understand, which is sad but true. I hope to see a big change in my lifetime but am sceptical.
Adrienne, UK

Re: Adrienne, UK - I fully agree, my life is so much better since moving to London. I have so many friends from so many backgrounds and my life so much better. People should learn to mix in, no matter what background they are from. This makes life so much more interesting.
Sunjay Bhogal, London




See also:

11 Dec 01 | England
Race 'segregation' caused riots
11 Dec 01 | England
Oldham fears further clashes
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