Moving beyond the post-racial assumptions in the UK

As we move towards the end of another year, one that has found many countries across the world gripped by their own racial tensions and often deep divides separating communities, it is important to fully address a particular idea that has been floated around quite often.

Falling for the assumption of post-racial society

Far too often people will point to the progress that has been made as indication that racial tensions, and to a larger extent racism as a whole, is no longer as big of an issue as it was to previous generations.

The progress we’ve made as a society is not to be overlooked, certainly the strides many communities have made over the last few years are a testament to how far we’ve come as a people and a nation.

As society has finally begun to become aware of many of the problems and strife that their fellow neighbours are forced to face, simply because of perceived nationality or pigmentation of skin, there is a growing movement of thought that has begun to spread, simultaneously eroding legitimacy of claims of racism while overlooking the problem as a whole.

Unfortunately the words ‘post-racial society’ have become a sort of cop out, if you will, for many people to use, when faced with the ugly truth of racism.

Individuals will point towards key events and use them as evidence that as a society, racism is simply not as big a danger as many would have you think. To that point, there is some truth, given that racism is no longer the ‘out in streets violence for the sake of violence’ type of racism that was prevalent just a few years prior in our society, it is certainly less likely to be as dangerous to large groups of people at once. Though the danger is still very much real .

Before moving forward into the reasons why post-racial society claims have yet to find as much truth as the purport, it is important to define exactly what is meant by a post-racial society.

Defining the assumption

When people tout a post-racial society, what they in fact are saying is that our society has completely moved beyond the antiquated viewpoints of race, ethnicity, and identity. To put it more shortly and simply, a society in which racism plays no part.

This has very serious implications, as saying that we live in a society that has freed itself from the oppression of racial tensions and racism takes away much of the gravity that still surrounds the topic.

How can one take a person’s claims of experiencing racism seriously, if we as a society have agreed that it no longer exists? We might be inclined to write off such a situation as either being misconstrued or misinterpreted or perhaps even worse, write the incident as a sort of anomaly that is of no real threat.

Acknowledging the problem and moving forward to end it

Pleasant as it is to believe, we unfortunately have not yet entered a post-racial period as a society, and by refusing to acknowledge the very real problem we face with racism, not only in the UK but within the world at large, we only hamper our ability to finally reach that period in which a person is simply treated as a person.

The reality, unfortunately, for many people in the UK is that racism still plays a very large part in their lives, though to the outside observer it may not seem that way, certainly when looked from the outside in, it is difficult to recognise the more subtle ways racism presents itself in modern society.

The quick sideways glances, clutched purses and bags, or tense behaviour all are manifestations of racial prejudices many of our neighbours are forced to face and to say we are no longer harbouring those viewpoints as a people puts the strain on dealing with the issue solely on those experiencing it while making it harder to adequately find a solution moving forward.

If a solution has presented itself, we only need to take the initiative to allow it room to grow. The only way to move forward towards actually living in a post-racial society is by having an open dialogue about racism, beyond shining a light on the impacts and the ways it is perpetrated, a dialogue about recognising the tendencies to harbour assumptions within ourselves about our neighbours based upon our lack of understanding.

Finally giving ourselves the space to fully address the problem of racism within our daily lives and society as a whole is has already begun, but claims the problem has been solved only shrinks that space.