It’s Actually Not That Racist

A friend forwarded me this Julian Baggini article on racism in the UK, which appeared in the Guardian last week. If I could give an award to someone for coming up with the most horribly written piece of drivel I’ve read in a while, it would surely go to this Baggini guy. No, seriously. I’m not being sarcastic.

Baggini tries to argue two things. Well, he rambles on and on and ON endlessly, but I’m taking the liberty to condense his points here. First, he argues that when some white Britons refer to us brown folks as ‘Pakis,’ they don’t really mean any harm. Second, he argues that if only we were to integrate and tolerate one another more, then people wouldn’t use the word ‘Paki’ so often. My response to him is, you’re dead wrong and, it’s not that easy.

This is how Baggini sets up his argument:

The mainstream British mind is not so much misunderstood as not seriously considered. To rectify this, 18 months ago I set out to examine the national “folk philosophy” – the set of beliefs and assumptions that informs how we live and how we think. To help me do this, I found the area with the closest match of household type – young and old, rich and poor, single and married – to the country as a whole. And so I ended up living for six months in S66, on the outskirts of Rotherham, South Yorkshire.

Then comes the subject of the P bomb:

Almost everyone [in Rotherham] used the word “Paki” when referring to British Asians, yet of everyone I got to know, only Neil – happy to be described as somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun – would merit the charge of being truly racist.

First of all, how on earth do you judge whether “no one in this town except X person” is “truly racist?” Did he go around Rotherham with some special racism-detecting gadget that instantly identifies individuals as “truly racist,” “somewhat racist” and “not at all racist?”His logic gets even more absurd:

Although people’s use of the word made me feel uncomfortable, there was a kind of innocence in their use of it that made me react less strongly than I would have imagined. There was no edge to what they were saying. It didn’t take long before I became able to hear it without assuming the speaker was racist….There is no contradiction in asserting that the words someone uses are racist (because they cause offence), but the person is not (because they mean none).

So in other words, if people use certain words often enough without hesitation, it’s not really that harmful. It doesn’t mean anything. If someone uses the word ‘faggot’ often enough, then it’s probably not malicious. It doesn’t mean that the said individual is in any way responsible for his/her hate speech. It’s just the word s/he uses that’s offensive.

Then he tries to argue that ‘Paki’ is not a racial slur:

Many argue that goreh is not at all derogatory, since it literally just means “white”. But then Paki is literally just an abbreviation for “Pakistani”, so that in itself proves nothing. The point is, in what contexts are these words used? Both “Paki” and “goreh” are “our” words for “them”, only used among “us”. It’s certainly true that if you break this rule and use either word in mixed company, the effects are different, but that’s at least in part to do with the fact that most white people don’t know what goreh means and it does not have a history of abusive misuse, as Paki does. In a Britain in which white people and Asians mixed freely, I don’t think we would hear either word very much at all. The use of “Paki” is therefore not primarily a symptom of race hatred but of a divided nation.

I don’t pretend to know very much about the UK; I’ve only been there once, and that too, when I was eight, so I don’t remember much. But I’ve taken enough microecon courses to know that “social mixing” isn’t always cheap, particularly for those towards the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. It’s not as simple as waking up one day and thinking, I’m going to move to the white part of town and away from my Asian ghetto so I can do my part to defeat racism! Most people choose their area of residence not because they want to completely avoid certain ethnic groups but because of proximity to job opportunities, cost of living, and quality of public goods offered in a certain area. Did it even occur to Baggini that maybe Rotherham just doesn’t have a job market that’s lucrative to diverse groups of people? And that’s probably why there’s little “mixing” in that area?

I think what also bothers me is that nowhere in the article does Baggini provide an Asian perspective on what it’s like to hear the word “Paki.” Instead Baggini has his own firm set of ideas on the root of the word, on how it’s said, and what it means for him. The only time an Asian perspective is provided in this article is to confirm that Asians, in fact, use the word themselves. So therefore, it can’t be that bad.

This article is almost as ridiculous as a white American writing a paper on the n word, and concluding, “I’ve heard the word used many times. I don’t particularly care for it, but I really don’t think people mean any ill will when they say it. I know this because people often use the n word in the same unflinching manner as they would to describe someone who is tall or short. Besides, I’ve heard black people refer to themselves as n. Maybe if they didn’t choose to live in Compton or the South Bronx, I wouldn’t have to feel so embarrassed about my fellow white people saying the n word so often.”

89 thoughts on “It’s Actually Not That Racist

  1. Last year when I was in California, several of my cousins desi friends would call each other the N word. For some reason it started to piss me off, and when I told them. One of them told me to shut up N*****. Now if a white person said that to me would, it be the same or different?

  2. Great post, Naina! I read the same article and had similar thoughts.

    *Baggini kept insisting that no malice was intended when people used the word “Paki” in a “casual” manner. But at work and around friends, I often hear the word “fag” thrown around in a very “casual” manner, like you mentioned. Does this mean that those who use that word necessarily want to beat the shit out of gay people? Maybe not, but it does mean that somewhere in our society, there is a commonly-held if unspoken belief that it’s okay to denigrate gay people. And that is uncivilized.

    *Also, isn’t it a bit stupid and ignorant to keep using the word “Paki” when describing someone who may be Indian, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, etc.?!?!

    *Even if white Britons aren’t exhibiting malice by using the word Paki, WHY do they feel the need to racialize things in the first place? For example, the author says a guy called a corner store the “Paki shop” in a “matter-of-fact description of the ethnic origins of the shop’s proprietor.” Why couldn’t he just call it a corner shop? I don’t go around and say, “Oh, I need to go get a manicure at the Vietnamese place, and then need to buy some groceries at the Puerto Rican bodega.” He in fact proves the point that WHITE people racialize the hell out of everything, and then they wonder liberals are so obsessed with race.

    *He also says, “I was able to hear it without assuming the speaker was racist.” Maybe b/c he’s not DESI?! Racism isn’t just how your describe an ethnic group during a conversation with another white person at a bar. Racism is acting like we eat monkey brains, racism is mocking our accent…ALL with the intended effect of degrading our ethnicity, telling us we are savages and that we are inherently “lesser” b/c of our attributes and way of life. It’s not just using one word casually over some beers.

    *Another idiotic quote: “It should be obvious that whether or not someone uses offensive language does not in itself reveal the beliefs and intentions of the speaker.” Okay, I agree with that, but then where do we start? Do we just ignore everything everyone says b/c it may or may not really reveal the true, inner beliefs of the speaker? And why is the default assumption that they are NOT racist? B/c they smiled when they said it?

    *Also this is really idiotic: “The use of ‘Paki’ is therefore not primarily a symptom of race hatred but of a divided nation.” Oh come ON. We live in a global, connected, infocentric society now. We may be geographically divided, but that’s not an excuse to keep using an archaic, ignorant and offensive word. Or do they not have TVs and Internet access in Rotherham? Heck, even the Northerners during the Civil War were able to determine that what is going on in the South is wrong and that an abolition movement needs to be started. How were they able to do that, and the kind and simple people of Rotherham are not?

    *He also falls into the lazy trend of glorifying the common, simple man who lives in the heartland. Oh, no, he’s not racist, he’s just used to a certain way of life, and he’s straightforward and honest. Not everyone in the Midwest is ignorant, and many are good people, but their “simple and honest” credo shouldn’t be used as a defense against those who are ignorant.

    *The author also disregards the politics of power in British society when he says, “Insisting that minority culture open up more to the majority one is seen as intolerant bullying; to insist that the majority cultures open up more to minority ones is see as enlightended and liberal.” Maybe that’s b/c the majority culture has more influence in setting norms, and that many minorities ALREADY exhibit characteristics that reflect the majority culture by virtue of living in the majority’s society, going to its schools, etc.

    *Also, like you said, he keeps using phrases like “The most racist person I met…” when in reality, how the hell does he know? Are people in Rotherham that dumb that they are going to tell the author that they beat up an Asian guy two years ago? Uh, no.

    We shouldn’t use words like “Paki” just b/c they are racist; we shouldn’t use them b/c it is ignorant and uncivilized. Or is self-improvement another foolish imposition on the British public? All people with the capacity to do so should strive for public civility and private intelligence.

    I’ll shut up now :) This article really got me going, and when I saw it on here…!!!

  3. Wow, this Baggini article is utter jackassery. Of all the whacky theories I’ve heard, judging your level of racism based on the tone of your voice has got to be the best. And placing one “paki” and “gora” on the same level shows a lack of awareness that racism is about history, context, and structures – and that words mean different things depending on who’s using them.

  4. When I lived in the UK they used to call us “Blackie.” Anyone know if that’s still being used?

  5. I don’t like the word “toleration” because it implies that the response is to something inherently noxious– ew. And “taboo” means controls placed on something pleasurable. No surprise, soft science yield dim conclusions about soft racism. How would he account for the Hindujas’ famous adaptation of a manse in Mayfair for joint family use, I wonder? Poor Shilpa, conned into saying Jade wasn’t racist before she saw the tape of what had been going on behind her back.

  6. Can you compare this to the usage of the N word in american society? Does Paki follow the same rule, like only a another desi can call a desi a Paki?

    i was just in london and some prick called me a Paki, expecting a rise outta me, it was quite hilarious, i just starting laughing hysterically and asked him why he was eating curry and lived in a country where there were more patels than smiths or thomas… then i told him to die.

    stupid white people

  7. Well, even in India you would for example say “Madrasi ka dukaan” and even streets are named after their residents – so on and so forth – caste and region is often invoked in India without it meaning very much or suggesting an absence of goodwill. Sometimes it isn’t very pleasant either – in Mumbai for example where I live there are always dark rumblings about bhaiyya gallis and the slow UPisation of the city. Does that make us casteist/racist – arguably it does or one could always do a Baggini. I think making racsim the white man’s burden somehow does not acknowledge the complexities, prejudices and irrational behaviour of communities everywhere. To some extent, the reaction to racism is one of wounded pride – we ourselves may look down on some people (Bollywood, brown trash, black folk, Jade Goody – take your pick) but cannot bear it that anyone may similarly look down on us – especially if that someone is white. On the other hand, maybe the objection to the word Paki is not just that its an ethnic origin indicator but that it was always used in conjunction with bashing – there is an element of hate there – a consequence of racism, racism in action as it were – which of course is what is disquieting.

  8. I think one of the biggest problems with this article is in Baginni’s definition of the term ‘racist’ as active racial hatred. He says that while the term ‘Paki’ IS a symptom of British ignorance and insensitivity as a result of cultural segregation (between all kinds of groups: racial, class-based, etc.), it is not necessarily a symptom of actual active hatred of British ‘Asians’ on the part of most white Britons. I don’t think he’s saying that the term isn’t offensive or harmful – he says that it is offensive, and he mentions that he was uncomfortable when he heard it – I think he’s just defending the intent behind the usage of the term by most people. Of course, problem is, even if the use of ‘Paki’ is a reflection of a deep-seated ‘fear of others’ in the British subconcious that goes beyond race and spills into classism, xenophobia, sexism, etc., it still qualifies as racist in my book.

    I don’t pretend to know very much about the UK; I’ve only been there once, and that too, when I was eight, so I don’t remember much. But I’ve taken enough microecon courses to know that “social mixing” isn’t always cheap, particularly for those towards the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. It’s not as simple as waking up one day and thinking, I’m going to move to the white part of town and away from my Asian ghetto so I can do my part to defeat racism!

    Also, if I read the article correctly, although Baggini says that the use of ‘Paki’ is a result of a divided nation, he doesn’t then go on to suggest that British Asians and whites integrate together and that this would fix the problem. Instead, he suggests the opposite: that multiculturalists who would have the two groups mix may make matters worse by trying to force integration rather than simply allowing the two groups to ‘tolerate’ one another (because, in his view, that’s the best we can hope for).

    In his view, if groups are segregated and allowed to just tolerate each others presence, they will at least be mutually civil in each others’ company even if they continue to be racially ignorant and insensitive of the other groups (which might spill over into ridiculous comments every once in a while from the likes of jade goody). However, when these groups are forced to integrate, both groups will become defensive of their culture and there will be more active, outward hostility – which he feels is worse than the occasional Paki-bomb uttered in the company of non-Pakis. I think that point is at least worth debating?

  9. Eddie said:

    “Oh, I need to go get a manicure at the Vietnamese place, and then need to buy some groceries at the Puerto Rican bodega.”

    Actually, I do go to the Indian store to get stuff from the desh, the Vietnamese store for cheaper and a better variety of vegetables and the Peruvian place to get delish rotisserie chicken.

  10. I’ve had enough of this guy. I wrote him an e-mail about his article but I don’t know if it even sent because an error page came up. I think I’m going to write him a letter and open a can of whoop ass on his philosophising cant. Give it to him on paper.

  11. Manju, I never heard the term ‘blackie’ being used although I was called nigger a few times when growing up.

  12. Mr Baggini is publishing the book from which this piece of relativising of racist language piece of shit considered work was extracted in March with Granta.

    Looking at their website I can see there are two Muslim, possibly Pakistani, women and one Sikh guy (Daily Telegraph critic Sukhdev Sandhu) who work as editors for them, funny that, wonder what they chat about at office meetings with Julian the Philosopher.

    (The managing editor of Granta Books is Sajidah Ahmad)

    Write him a letter if you feel strongly enough about it.

  13. As a fresh teen in England in early 80′s, I was called Paki several times. Not knowing the connotation, I just ignored the offender, or politely corrected them by say..’No I am from india.’ These were teenagers, and they would usually retort by saying’same Sh*&.’…and I would say ‘Not,’

  14. Still, this Jade Goody business gets way to much attention. Racism exists in Britain yes, as in any other society. Do not forget that and we Indians (Hindu) are no victims in Britain, on the contrary Indians do well in Britain (and US) better than in any other society to which we have migrated. Try continental Europe or even worse the middle east. Screaming racism after the “oxocube gate” is crying wolf, big time. Calling someone Paki (or blackie) can be racism but it can also be just name calling, as it happens between kids. It does not mean that this guy isn’t deas wrong, he is.

    First of all people like Shilpa when they live in Britain are everything but segregated, she would be the typical Indian middleclass woman living in the better parts of London. People who are segregated tend to bangladeshi and pakistanis living in the out skirts of Leeds. We have no right to portray us as victimized as they are, that is an insult to those who really are segregated and at the other end of the racism stick.

  15. Whenever the word ‘Paki’ comes up, some moron invariably pipes up to insist that it can’t really be racist because it’s just a shortened form of ‘Pakistani’. Well gee, ‘Yid’ and ‘Jap’ are just shortened forms of perfectly respectable words; does that mean that they aren’t racist either? This sort of dumbassery from a professional philosopher is astounding.

  16. Do not forget that and we Indians (Hindu) are no victims in Britain, on the contrary Indians do well in Britain (and US) better than in any other society to which we have migrated.

    Being Indian in Britain is not interchangeable with being Hindu.

    Secondly, oh yes! The Hindus don’t suffer racism because we are the model minority! We are so fragrant and integrated and living in Harrow and Leicester no Hindu ever gets discriminated against and called a Paki or told to go back home, so shut up, it cannot be, be quiet.

    I am constantly amazed by some of the contributions on this blog, the blind witlessness, the clueless disconnect with real lived experience, the smug assumptions and extrapolations, it wavers between hilarious and unbelievable.

    . Calling someone Paki (or blackie) can be racism but it can also be just name calling, as it happens between kids.

    OK — walk out of your room and call the first black person you see a nigger and tell him not to worry it’s just innocent banter.

  17. I totally agree with all the comments that called out the bunk in the article. I’ve never read the author of the article, is he the type who writes columns that are designed to be inflammatory?

  18. He in fact proves the point that WHITE people racialize the hell out of everything,
    stupid white people

    You do see the irony here, right?

  19. The last few weeks on this website, I have noticed that some of the post that have anything to do with race, have had a somewhat of anti-white feeling to them. Maybe I’m reading them wrong, but that just the feeling that I have gotten the last few weeks.

    Also some of the anti-brown feeling’s in England could be due to the events of July 7, 2005.

  20. The whole problem with racism isn’t that everyone is psychotic and trying to kill other races. The real ugliness of it is in a common acceptance of words and ideas meant to dehumanize any group of people. Over time, it becomes okay to abuse, repress and even kill that group, because they are, after all less than human so the same rules just don’t apply. To me, that’s the true horror of racism. It’s that acceptance which leads to indifference which allows for people to commit horrible acts against others without remorse. And for certain it’s not just a “white” problem. It is a problem everywhere, no matter how diverse or the same people in a region may be. So yeah, it might be wise to speak up next time some fucker (lovely, non-denominational term) calls you or anyone else a “Paki”, “Faggot” or any other bullshit to make themseleves feel superior, knowingly or not.

  21. “Also some of the anti-brown feeling’s in England could be due to the events of July 7, 2005.”

    Dude, really? Ya think? Maybe some of the er, anti-white feeling you’re sensing is due to the relentless racism people of colour have been dealing with since, I dunno, the year dot pretty much.

  22. I really find it funny, that due to action of some whites, many people don’t have problem blaming all whites. Yet when its the other way around they can’t handle it.

  23. Do not forget that and we Indians (Hindu) are no victims in Britain, on the contrary Indians do well in Britain (and US) better than in any other society to which we have migrated.

    Ok, here’s the thing. I know nothing about being brown in the UK, but I do think the above statement is wrong, or at the very least, objectionable.

    That you can “do well” as an Indian in the UK or the US has no bearing on whether racism and anti-South Asian bigotry exists. The folks who live in Leicester are doing well in isolation, IMO. My impression of the UK is that India is a fairly big part of mainstream British culture (the food, the music, etc), but diaspora Indians aren’t. Indians remain largely unintegrated and isolated from the mainstream (whatever that is).

    I think this is also true (to a lesser extent) in the US, and is most easily observable in parts of the country where South Asians are at critical mass. It’s easier to ignore racism and bigotry when you’re in numbers. Ironically, that’s what usually draws the racial epithets in the first place.

  24. I have a lot of family in London who’ve been there for 40 years. Everywhere you go in London you see brown folks around. Anyone that tries to sell me the “there is racial segregation and hence people are ignorant” is talking a whole lot of horseshit. You can’t live among a group of people, encounter them everywhere and then claim ignorance to it. Then again I had to explain to my boss in NYC what henna/mehndi was last year.

    I have a question though. Does anyone know what the demographics are on Pakistanis/Indians/Bangladeshi/Sri Lankans in London? How is it that “Paki” became the dominant collective for South Asians considering brown folks moved there in much larger numbers from Africa and were mostly of Indian descent?

  25. Samjay

    Try continental Europe or even worse the middle east.

    Completely offtopic, but…

    I don’t mean to pick on you, but I’ve seen this sort of comment appear a few times on different blog posts in the past few weeks. You know, it’s not really that bad out here. In fact, probably not worse than Britain. I can’t ever remember being called a racial slur of sorts, and I grew up in a town which was 99% white. I’m not denying that there is no racial discrimination, because there are plenty of ignorant jerks around. But it’s certainly no Saudi Arabia.

  26. In 2001 the British Asian population was

    1,054,000 Indian 747,000 Pakistan 283,000 Bangladesh

  27. The term “paki” was not just found in London. I grew up in Toronto in the 70s and was called a paki when I attended a largely Caucanadian school. My mum’s favourite story is when I beat up a boy for calling me a paki when I wore a salwar kameez to school. I thought I was way ahead of the time, he thought I showed up in my PJs and taunted me in the school yard as “paki in her PJs.” The morning after, he woke up with a scratched up face and bruised eye, I woke up to a slap across my face for “fighting with a boy.”

  28. he woke up with a scratched up face and bruised eye, I woke up to a slap across my face for “fighting with a boy.”

    saira: you go girl. (sorry about the slap!)

  29. Actually, I do go to the Indian store to get stuff from the desh, the Vietnamese store for cheaper and a better variety of vegetables and the Peruvian place to get delish rotisserie chicken.

    JayV, I wasn’t referring to ethnic-specific stores. I was referring to incidents when the ethnicity of the store proprietor has nothing to do with the theme of the store. For example, a corner shop owned by an Indian is just a corner shop. It most likely has little to do with the owner’s Indianness. Everytime I go to the dry cleaners, I don’t say, “I’m going to the Korean dry cleaners.”

    He in fact proves the point that WHITE people racialize the hell out of everything, stupid white people You do see the irony here, right?

    NinaP and RedSnapper, I wrote the first sentence, not the second one. But obviously you’re trying to make some sort of point here. NinaP, what cocopuffs said is ignorant and idiotic, although keep in mind that he/she said it in reaction to this offensive article. My broader point was that so often minorities are accused of being obsessed with race, when in fact it is white people bringing up the issue in the FIRST place. The conversation in this country is dominated by such an anti-PC theme that calling something racist is tantamount to being a humorless socialist.

    And I’m sorry, but I only see one idiotic comment on this board…most people are writing intelligent comments. This is hardly a white-bashing fest. I think we are all intelligent enough on this board to see that when someone says “white people” they are talking about a sentiment, a general attitude, not every single white person alive. So clueless, RedSnapper, etc., please stop trying to conflate the views of everyone commenting on this thread.

  30. Oh and JOAT, I don’t think anyone said that London isn’t racially diverse. I think the author and others were talking about the more remote regions of England, where there are significantly fewer numbers of minorities.

  31. And I’m sorry, but I only see one idiotic comment on this board…most people are writing intelligent comments. This is hardly a white-bashing fest. I think we are all intelligent enough on this board to see that when someone says “white people” they are talking about a sentiment, a general attitude, not every single white person alive. So clueless, RedSnapper, etc., please stop trying to conflate the views of everyone commenting on this thread.

    Don’t take the bait man don’t take the bait. And in Red Snappers defence there was nothing idiotic nor white bashing coming from there. You might be talking about some of the clueless baits.

  32. Yeah man, how could anyone write my name next to clueless’s about anything? Anyway…..

    So Jane, do you get to travel to London to see your folks at all? Like it?

  33. Also some of the anti-brown feeling’s in England could be due to the events of July 7, 2005

    And maybe some of the anti-white feeling could be due to the events of:

    oh wait, I can’t think of any events where whites mistreated non-whites.

  34. So, Julian is trying to tell us that it’s ok to use the term Paki. Oh, well that settles it for me. (right).

    A whole article on rationalizing a word and calling it comparable to the use of ‘goreh’ that brown folk call white folk? But, I’ve never heard someone address someone directly as a gora.

    He makes a big deal about “toleration”, but how about respect?

    I think of Paki in the same category as “chink” or “spic” — one word to paint a diverse group.

    There’s was local controversy about a restaurant in Philly with that name though it was named after the owner, who’s nickname was Chink.

    So, that was a bit of a lost cause, though a good fight. It was overshadowed shortly by the cheesesteak place that put up a sign “Order in English” only. (Seriously, how would you order a cheesesteak in any another language?)

  35. I never said whites never mistreated non-whites. Of course there are many examples of this happening. But at the same time there is many examples of people of every color and race and religon being mistreated by people for the same reason. I’m sorry that some people have taken my word the wrong way.

  36. An Indian “muslim” is probably just as successful on average as an Indian “hindu”. Greater poverty among Muslim south asians, probably has to do with immigration from Bangladesh and Pakistan. In any case, I doubt someone calling you a paki really gives a damn which country you come from. That should be reason enough to unite and confront the problem.

  37. Is in’t the usage of gora, goreh, gorah racist? most of the time when those words are used they are meant in a derogatory way.

  38. Ashi in your post #40 you talk about the philly english cheesesteak incident. The owner did an interview on CNN and said that he was trying to make a political statement about illegal immigrants who don’t learn English.

  39. I have a question though. Does anyone know what the demographics are on Pakistanis/Indians/Bangladeshi/Sri Lankans in London? How is it that “Paki” became the dominant collective for South Asians considering brown folks moved there in much larger numbers from Africa and were mostly of Indian descent?

    The British “visible ethnic minority” population is about 50% desi (including “Asian-Africans”), 48% African/Caribbean (and much more Caribbean than African). Over half of this population lives in London, and 43% of British Asians live in London. Pakistanis are actually the most “disperse” in their settlement – they live throughout the Midlands and in Edinburgh as well as in London. About 75% of Bangladeshis live in London. I think something like 47% of Indians live in London. It seems like a few neighborhoods in London specifically are also divided regionally; that is, certain neighborhoods are more densely Indian or more densely Pakistani or more densely Bangladeshi. The Sri Lankan population is really really small compared to the other 3 groups. [cite]

    I don’t think there has been much done to break settlement down by religious group as well. However, there is information on the religion of different migrants during different immigration waves (and many Indians are not Hindu, but rather Sikh and Muslim as well with Sikhs making up a disproportionate % of early migrants).

    Also, the largest number of immigrants of “Indian” descent to the UK did not move from Africa. While that number is significant, it pales in comparison to the total migration flow that happened before and after 1972. For the first 5 years of “open migration” (post-Partition, early 50s), desi immigration was over 70% Indian and 30% Pakistani. In terms of sheer numbers this makes sense; the Indian population is way bigger than the population of Pakistan. By the late 1960s/70s this had flipped a bit, and migration was about 50/50 Indian to Pakistani. There was a surge of Bangladeshi migrants during the war for independence. By the 1980s, the majority of desi immigrants were Pakistani and Bangladeshi. In the 1990s, many more middle eastern migrants have been making their way over, in part because of the tightening of immigration restrictions and because of changes in the UK’s asylum laws. I don’t have an internet cite for this, but the tables and corresponding legislation/reports are in the yearly reports from the UK’s Home Office from 1950-1990.

    Clueless, I think it is important to do a bit of reading or background research on the context of a place before making broad generalizations/assumptions. The UK has a long and violent history of racial violence, that until recently, has almost always been white on brown/black violence.

    And on the topic of Philly cheesesteak:

    So, that was a bit of a lost cause, though a good fight. It was overshadowed shortly by the cheesesteak place that put up a sign “Order in English” only.

    That’s kind of how Geno’s has always been, though :( Ironic, given the Italian-American heritage in the area, but not that ironic given that the restaurant is pretty “pro-American” in a very narrow definition of what an American is.

  40. There are about 350,000 Sikh’s in England and 600,000 hindu with almost all of them being South Asian. England Muslim population is about 1.6 million and about 1.3 million of them being South Asian background.

  41. Clueless - Right..this whole thing came up during that the immigration reform marches. He says his grandparents came from Italy, had to learn English and struggle to assimilate. It’s ironic he’s continuing the cycle, but from the privileged vantage. Yet, this is America, land of capitalism.. so if Geno’s is a problem, they’ll cross the street to Pat’s. :-)

    However, the Inquirer did an article on immigrants in the area and found immigrants want to learn English, but there are limited resources offered.

  42. Is in’t the usage of gora, goreh, gorah racist? most of the time when those words are used they are meant in a derogatory way.

    Any takers?

  43. Ashi I think that immigrants that want to learn English should get all the help they can. I think there where both the goverment and local groups will spend have to spend more money.

    Some people may disagree with me but there would be less racism if more immigrants did a better job to assimilate into the mainstream culture. I think that is where alot of racism now in Europe is coming from that issue.

    I also want to add that racism will never go away, but assimilation and intergration of immigrants into the mainstream culture will help slow it down. That is what my main point I have been trying to make.

  44. clueless “Some people may disagree with me but there would be less racism if more immigrants did a better job to assimilate into the mainstream culture. I think that is where alot of racism now in Europe is coming from that issue.”

    A whole lot of people will disagree quite vehemently with this. I’m beginning to doubt that this point is even worth making, but your above statement is making me itch. Racism in Europe stems from the fact that non-white people aren’t learning to assimilate properly? So, persecution is the victim’s fault? Black people wouldn’t be called “niggers” if they only stopped being so black and became more white? A Muslim woman wearing the hijab wouldn’t get spat on and called a terrorist by jocks if she only stopped sticking out like a sore thumb, chucked her hijab and donned a mini-skirt? A sikh should cut off his hair and lose the turban coz man, he needs to learn how to be a good immigrant and look more like a straight white middle-class man, ie, the “mainstream?” I wonder if you realise the implications of anything you’re saying.