It occurred to me within the first two years of moving to Britain that my life was lacking something: white people.
To be fair, while I may have lived in a neighbourhood that was often described as a Muslim ghetto, it wasn’t only filled with Muslims. Muslims weren’t even the majority. The Asians were even diverse. There were many Sri Lankans living in my neighborhood with their produce shops and restaurants, Mauritians, Sikhs, and Hindus. There were also loads of white people – but they were also diverse. There was a massive Polish community in my neighborhood, with their polish shops, or “Polski Skelp.” The English were diverse too; many from your typical educated English middle class, and then there were the chavs. There were loads of chavs in my neighborhood. Nevertheless, over the years, when I started making friends, they all teased me calling my neighbourhood “Pakistan.” To be clear, most of the friends I’ve made here, mind you, are Muslim Asians, like me.
In those first couple of years, I didn’t think much of the lack of diversity in my friendships. I lived in “Pakistan” after all. If I wanted to make diverse friends, I was better off doing so in other places; but my options were limited. Since I don’t drink, I didn’t go to pubs or clubs – where much socialising takes place. I didn’t have much luck at work. I’d try harder elsewhere when I’d have the opportunity. SOAS (The School of Oriental and African Studies), where I did my masters, would be the perfect place I’d try to meet some English people.
Well, I am less than pleased to report that after two years at SOAS I never made a single English friend. I did make some white friends, however, but not a single one of them English. They were mostly European. I made friends from Spain, Italy, Denmark, Germany, and of course, fellow Americans.
How did this happen? Again, in all fairness, it’s not that I didn’t see English people making friends with Asians – because I did. I even remember one day at lunch sitting behind an interracial couple – an English man and an Asian woman – who couldn’t keep their stinking hands off of each other. Talk about ad nauseum. I almost lost my lunch that day. But these were not the usual sights. The SOAS lunchroom made me think of Beverly Tatum’s book “Why are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” That is, even at a leftist institution such as SOAS, the Asian people hung out together, and the white people hung out together after lecture at pubs. In my two years at SOAS, I only got invited once to a pub and only one party. Pathetic.
British multiculturalism is often referred to as a “salad bowl” as opposed to a “melting pot.” That is, while the bowl is mixed with a diversity of colours and flavours, every vegetable retains its shape, form, and taste. By contrast, in a melting pot, all the colours and flavours of individual ingredients blend together. These are interesting analogies; certainly problematic, especially in light of the phenomenon in the United States concerning the isolation of African Americans, but interesting nevertheless.
Perhaps, even, there is a general truth to both analogies; but only general. American society is built on immigration. Irrespective of the numerous xenophobes, immigration is in the core culture. While many talking heads cry over rising immigration, I don’t want to believe that it is all that easy to win the hearts and minds of average Americans. So long as you have an American passport, your Americanness won’t be questioned – even if you are brown and have a foreign accent of some sort. Today, there is also no one race that can be categorised as wholly American – whites, blacks, Hispanics are all as American as they come at this point.
This is not the case in the Britain. While people of foreign origin can certainly be British, they will never be English. It sends a message that while you’re welcome here, you will never be one of us, and thus you don’t fully belong. It’s no wonder that immigrants here regularly get pushed to the fringest of society. Today’s political push to promote British values sends a clear message to the ethnically diverse British population that there is one monolithic culture and that adherence to other cultures will no longer be tolerated.
It is no wonder that the threat the aboriginal English feel in regards to immigration appears to strike a deeper chord than in the United States. Today the main threat is Islamisation and English nationalist groups, such as the EDL, are popping up and are fast gaining momentum.
Here is an EDL yob at a rally in Luton, just outside of London in the north. It appears that this video has now gone viral!
My European friends and I sat down and discussed this one day at my place over some tea. How come I can make Spanish friends, German friends, even Dutch friends and can’t make a single English friend? Are the English the most closed minded Europeans? An Italian friend of mine clarified. She said that the Europeans that leave the main continent to come to London to study are of a different mindset than their local counterparts. They are already more open when they arrive, and thus, are more open to having a diverse body of friends – yes that body would also include us Asians. She then offered her unadulterated honesty. Italy has a large Indian and Sikh population. The Italians, she told me, were quite racist against their Indian citizens and typically wouldn’t make friends with people from the Indian Subcontinent. I appreciated her whole hearted honesty, but have to admit her words felt like a dagger through the heart.
I love my European friends though. I especially admire their ability and their commitment to rise above the racist thinking that plagues many European societies. My Italian friend really dreaded the idea of moving back to Italy after completing her MA from SOAS and did her best to try and find work in London so she could stay. She said that she loved the variety of life here. I can’t say I blame her. In the end, she didn’t find work and had to pack up and move back to Italy. We’re still regularly in touch. She is currently trying to find work in the Middle East.
And I do believe that the yob in the youtube video said “Muslamic ray guns” – nevertheless, I recently found this – I end this post with this video as my personal tribute to all the EDL yobs out there plaguing Britain.