The Changing Face of Britain
By Lawna Elayn Tapper
The face of Britain has changed. Local fish and chip shops now serve West Indian patties, oriental spring rolls and Asian curries.
Here in 2006, post-imperialism, post-European Unification, the face of Britain has changed.
Skin tones have gone from white to black, to Asian, to olive, to a mixture of all of these.
And, yes, this is all with chips, and the entire British nation’s munching! So has Britain’s history been led along a road to a crisis: a mish-mash so far from anything British that no one now knows what British actually means?
The world has known Britain a long time. It was always the chief example of pomp, pageantry and class. Royal families rode along rainy roads to street party cheers, streams of red, white and blue bunting, and masses of fluttering Union Jacks. Britain’s tidy green hills and drab terraced homes seemed to represent an ordered society where the poor suffered respectfully and revered their betters.
Let’s take a look at World Cup 2006; our boys were out there fighting for glory! Did we get a sense of that same nationhood and patriotism of yesteryear? Well, the country’s now a lot more multicultural than it was back in the day.
We had flagrant exhibitions of sprayed red and white hair, and painted babies; flags of St. George flew proudly from cars, and draped over half-naked bodies. Maybe it’s the fact that someone said, “there ain’t no black in the Union Jack” that it’s the red cross and not the multi-coloured stripes that is brandished, but, for some, that’s just not good enough!
How times have changed! Is patriotism no longer something to aspire towards? Elements of the British press are outraged by who they call “small-minded killjoys” as they urge “the slaying of the dragon of political correctness.”
Revellers at London's Notting Hill Carnival
Business and public services that have not allowed their workers to fly England’s national flag in their course of duty have been named and shamed by The Sun newspaper. Martin Phillips writes, “The cross of St George no more belongs to the loony busybodies than it does to loathsome bigoted racists. It belongs to us – the English – whatever colour our skin; whatever our cultural or religious background.”
But are Britain’s minority communities convinced? The leader of the Islamic Human Rights Commission is said to be unimpressed. The paper claims he said that England’s flags continue to evoke images of racial prejudice and the BNP. And he is not alone in thinking that a choice to revere the accomplishments of the Crusaders or those of the Imperialists is no choice at all.
This is not to say that there are no red crossed flags being flown from the vehicles of blacks and Asians, but support for “our boys” still comes from but a minority of Britain’s minorities.
We’ve made some headway along the line of time, and minority babies being born today are of third generation immigrant descent. Surely you can’t get much more British than that!
Despite this, cars careering Britain’s streets with non-whites at the wheel were flying flags for Trinidad, Ghana and Brazil, even when the drivers are from Jamaica! Some even support Togo, a country they didn’t even know existed before May of this year.
When the Ashes are being vied for by our nation’s cricketers, our Asian communities are backing India and Pakistan, and the blacks, the West Indies, under-performing or not! England’s cricket team have non-white faces, and Sven’s first team line-up includes Rio Ferdinand and Ashley Cole.
But still, support tends to be wavering and conditional, reserved for when England plays against a team that bears no relevance to their origin. Is this simply due to some supernatural influence of their fathers and grandfathers, or is there some greater force at play?
Perhaps the fact that communities have been here for over 50 years and still fail to feel a sense of nationhood does indeed constitute a crisis.
Editor's note: The concluding part of this piece appears tomorrow
Lawna Elayn Tapper is an editorial staff with Ricenpeas - an award-winning independent film production outfit.
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