Sunday, September 18, 2005


The Sunday Times - Britain
September 18, 2005 Race chief warns of ghetto crisisDavid Leppard
BRITAIN’S race relations chief is to warn that the country is “sleepwalking” into New Orleans-style racial segregation, with Muslim and black ghettos dividing cities.
Trevor Phillips, chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), is to say the July terror attacks have exposed a racial “nightmare” where some districts are becoming “fully-fledged ghettos — literal black holes” where people fear to go.
In a stark warning to Tony Blair, Phillips will say in a speech this week that race relations policy is failing to tackle the roots of ethnic alienation and extremism.
He will suggest new measures that he admits critics will regard as social engineering. These could include forcing “white” schools to take larger numbers of ethnic minorities to help to encourage integration.
He will admit that his message is “bleak” but sees America’s experience after Hurricane Katrina as a warning to Britain to avoid similar complacency in believing that it has an integrated society.
“The fact is we are a society which, almost without noticing it, is becoming more divided by race and religion. We are becoming more unequal by ethnicity,” he will tell Manchester Council for Community Relations on Thursday.
“Our ordinary schools . . . are becoming more exclusive and our universities are starting to become colour-coded with virtual ‘whites keep out’ signs in some urban institutions.”
In a side-swipe at Oxford, Cambridge and other top universities, he will say: “If you look closely at the campuses of some of our most distinguished universities you can pick out the invisible ‘no blacks may enter’ messages.”
Some districts, he will say, are on their way to “literal black holes into which nobody goes without fear and trepidation, and from which nobody ever escapes undamaged”.
He will warn that if this continues, the first century of black immigration would end in a “New Orleans-style Britain of passively coexisting ethnic and religious communities, eyeing each other uneasily over the fences of our differences”.
Assessing where Britain stands in the aftermath of the July 7 attacks, he says: “We are sleepwalking our way to segregation. We are becoming strangers to each other and leaving communities to be marooned outside the mainstream.”
Phillips cites new evidence from the CRE that “residential segregation” is increasing even as some Asians are moving into middle-class areas. “What is left behind is hardening in its separateness,” he will say.
The number of people of Pakistani heritage in ghettos, which he defines as those with more than two-thirds of any one ethnicity, trebled between 1991 and 2001. In Bradford, 13.3% now live in such communities compared with 4.3% in 1991; in Leicester it has risen from 10.8% to 13.3%.
According to Phillips, new research also pours cold water on hopes that children mixing in schools might break down the barriers between communities. The study by Bristol University found that children are slightly more segregated in the playground than they are in their neighbourhoods. “That means that not only aren’t the children meeting — nor are their parents,” Phillips will say.
New CRE research will also show that most white people do not have a non-white friend, while young Asian and black people have almost exclusively Asian or black friends.
Phillips will suggest that schools could be given cash incentives to increase their ethnic mix and local education authorities could be forced to broaden their catchment areas to include a more even racial mix.
He also has concerns about white working-class ghettos in places such as Barking, Essex, and parts of Yorkshire.
Critics will dismiss his warning as alarmist. But Phillips will argue: “America is not our dream but our nightmare. When the hurricane hits — and it could be a recession rather than a natural disaster — those (segregated) communities are set up for destruction.”

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