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Race and Racism in the 21st Century


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Over the last few decades British governments have been committed to tackling various aspects of direct and indirect racial discrimination with the incentive of promoting 'equality of opportunity' and remedying other social disadvantages suffered by black minority communities in British society’ (Solomos 1989:2). Equality of opportunity in this sense is associated to the concept of racial equality, which can simply refer to ‘social equality for peoples of all races’ (Crenshaw 1988). In spite of this however, there remain deeply entrenched processes of discrimination resistant to legal and political interventions throughout society (Solomos 1993). This essay will discuss the claim ‘there ain’t no Black in the Union Jack’ in relation to these processes of discrimination which have encouraged the mis representation and exclusion of Black people within British society. The first part of the essay will outline the meaning of race and racism in the 21st century. It will then go on to discuss processes of exclusion, which are reinforced by the media and politicians representation of black migrants and the existence of so called ‘White spaces’. These exclusions of black people can be seen to prevent them from identifying as British thus excluding them from being part of ‘the Union Jack’. Whilst the concept of racism has been restricted by the notion of ‘colour’ as it has concealed the full range of ways in which racism has operated in Britain, including against Jews, Gypsies and the Irish (Jewesbury 2008), throughout this essay the term will only be discussed in the political sense to ‘denote people who self- identify, originate or have ancestry from global majority populations (i.e. African, Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin America) and Indigenous and Bi-racial backgrounds (Nagarajan 2013).

Essentialism forms the backbone of what is meant when geographers investigate

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