- June 30, 2000 at 12:00 am #10826
Why are the British so racist and xenophobic? Why do they stereotype and degrade (as part of their ‘humor’)? What are British children taught about accepting other cultures? How can they say ‘all these people are stupid’ with good conscience?
User Detail :Name : Regina, Gender : F, City : New York City, State : NY Country : United States, June 30, 2000 at 12:00 am #15296
I don’t believe the British ARE particularly xenophobic or racist, and I wonder why you have formed the opinion that we are. In your comment you say ‘How can they [Brits] say ‘all these people are stupid’. You are claiming all Brits are the same – we’re not. A few hooligans go to Belgium and get worldwide media coverage of their appalling behaviour. Would you like the US to be be judged by the behaviour of the KKK? Britain has a large black and asian proportion. We elect black and asian politicians. We have openly gay politicians. The vast majority of Brits are relaxed about race, religion, nationhood, sexual orientation etc. It may be that you have misinterpreted British humour. We are apparently a bit different from other countries in our style of joking, with much sarcastic and ironic comment distinguished mainly by the tone of voice, and context. If the words are taken literally it can sound offensive. It may be however, that you have lived in the UK, and seen enough of British behaviour to make a fair comparison. In that case, you have a point and we probably have some way to go. British friends of mine who have moved to the US find the ‘politically correct’ culture hard to bear. They sometimes feel afraid to open their mouths for fear of causing unintended offence. Wouldn’t it be great if people assumed no offence was intended, rather than the reverse?
User Detail :Name : Sean H., Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Atheist, Age : 36, City : London, State : NA Country : United Kingdom, Occupation : Geologist, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class, June 30, 2000 at 12:00 am #25913
I don’t believe the British are particularly xenophobic or racist, and I wonder why you have formed the opinion that we are. In your comment, you say ‘How can they [Brits] say ‘all these people are stupid’. You are claiming all Brits are the same – we’re not. A few hooligans go to Belgium and get worldwide media coverage of their appalling behaviour. Would you like the United States to be be judged by the behaviour of the KKK? Britain has a large black and Asian population. We elect black and Asian politicians. We have openly gay politicians. The vast majority of Brits are relaxed about race, religion, nationhood, sexual orientation, etc. It may be that you have misinterpreted British humour. We are apparently a bit different from other countries in our style of joking, with much sarcastic and ironic comment distinguished mainly by the tone of voice, and context. If the words are taken literally, it can sound offensive. It may be, however, that you have lived in the United Kingdom and seen enough of British behaviour to make a fair comparison. In that case, you have a point, and we probably have some way to go. British friends of mine who have moved to the United States find the ‘politically correct’ culture hard to bear. They sometimes feel afraid to open their mouths for fear of causing unintended offense. Wouldn’t it be great if people assumed no offense was intended, rather than the reverse?
User Detail :Name : Sean H., Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Atheist, Age : 36, City : London, State : NA Country : United Kingdom, Occupation : Geologist, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Lower middle class, July 3, 2000 at 12:00 am #46525
I don’t accept the implicit assumption of the question: That the United States is less racist and xenophobic. But then, I am Australian and grew up with residual British values here in the middle of the last century. Britain has an established class system, and changes in attitudes tend to work from the middle classes up and down. There’s lot of racism and xenophobia in the lowest socio-economic groups, particularly older people. From my point of view, the United States is the most xenophobic country – not because it has negative views toward other countries – more because of its massive general ignorance of most countries. News programs carry little international news unless Americans are involved. Most people in the United States have little idea of government structures in other countries being fundamentally different, and so on. Would other non-United States residents care to comment?
User Detail :Name : Kent26468, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Episcopalian, Age : 58, City : Melbourne, State : NA Country : Australia, Occupation : manager, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, July 4, 2000 at 12:00 am #17891
As an Australian of British descent, I am really offended ny your assumption. I think you should look in the mirror, as an American, before making statements like that.
User Detail :Name : Priscilla, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Bisexual, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Agnostic, Age : 23, City : Sydney, State : NA Country : Australia, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, July 4, 2000 at 12:00 am #22326
As an American who has lived in London, I have to agree with Kent that we are far more xenophobic than the British. The Brits do have it over us in the class discrimination department. Americans are brought up to believe that we can overcome humble upbringings to be accepted in ‘high class’ society. In Britain, more specifically in England, a lower-class accent can make one a pariah for life. As to the British sense of humor, it’s just drier and more pointed than ours.
User Detail :Name : Emma25400, Gender : F, City : Los Angeles, State : CA Country : United States, July 4, 2000 at 12:00 am #46456
I’m Irish but live and work in London. My job has taken me all over the world, and I find Londoners probably the least xenophobic people on earth. That’s not to say they can’t be small-minded, but you find that everywhere.
I’d be interested to know why you feel the British are xenophobic. London is now the most ethnically diverse city in the world, although New York has more minorities. The ‘black’ dance music scene dominates youth culture, the national dish is curry, and on the way to work in the morning you can buy a newspaper from anywhere in the world. It has a thriving, well-integrated gay scene – this weekend saw the largest gay festival in Europe -and at the end of August the Notting Hill carnival will see millions of people from all over the world gather to party to Caribbean music in the streets. Unlike U.S. cities, it is not ghettoized. There are no single-race neighborhoods. Yes, you could give examples of racial tension, but it’s the exception. People live side by side with little trouble. Children here don’t need to be taught about accepting other cultures, as they live and are educated in a multicultural society. Busing is not necessary. And as for ‘taking the piss’ out of other nations, just as much of the British humor is self-defacing.
I’m not trying to claim it’s Nirvana, but on the whole London provides a pretty good example of how people from all over the world can live together if they are willing to tolerate one another. We’ve got a long way to go here, but we’re getting there.
User Detail :Name : Oisin19962, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Agnostic, Age : 25, City : London, State : NA Country : United Kingdom, Occupation : Banking, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, July 6, 2000 at 12:00 am #46409
I’m half Chinese and half white and I visited London a few months ago. I got quite a few people that, right off the bat, started referring to me as a mixed person and wanted to talk about mixed race politics or Chinese politics and were quite rude. I looked up Brits and racism on usenet (unfortunatly the only way to learn about the general nature short of living there) and found many posts about immigrants that don’t belong in Britan, all the colored people that are ruining the culture, stealing jobs, the ‘lost’ mixed race. Someone mentioned a song called ‘Don’t Let’s Be Beastly To The Germans’ which they described as terribly xenophobic but funny and ‘very British’. There is also the Brit actors/comedians/musicians that come over to America and say things like ‘All you Americans have no taste in anything.’ I know a British guy here in New York that is always stereotyping other people and making us all very uncomfortable but he just says he’s being British and continues! Like we’re going to finally find him funny! As someone who has to worry about degrading stereotypes & racism I don’t think I’ll ever find the ‘humour’ in someone saying ‘All these people are always this way.’ What do you think?
User Detail :Name : Regina30133, City : New York, State : NY Country : United States, July 7, 2000 at 12:00 am #34323
I’ve only traveled to London twice, spending a week each time. But I have noticed a few things to offer a limited opinion. First, I think the levels of racism and xenophobia are pretty much equal between the British and Americans. But what amazed and shocked me about the British I encountered was the blatant nature of the racism. Granted, people in Chicago, and the rest of the US for that matter, have been known to guard their purses and wallets a little more closely around Blacks. But in London they have an almost frightening reaction to encountering a Black person on the subway or the street. I lost track of the number of times their clutched their belongings with fervor unmatched here in the U.S. at the mere sight of me standing there, even burdened with a huge suitcase hanging on one shoulder and a large backpack behind me.I was regaled with a story of the ‘pushiness’ of Jews by a shop owner on the other side of the Tower Bridge, leaving me to wonder what she would say about me when I left. I have been nearly 30 yards away from people while walking the path through Regents Park to the zoo, glanced over that considerable distance and seen people respond to my mere look by clutching their hand over their Walkmans to (apparently) prevent me from leaping Superman-like over that great distance, stealing their radio and flying away, I suppose. I have read the papers about a ‘steaming’ incident where teens flooded a train brandishing a knife robbing riders, and the article sought to make it clear the assailants were Black, while an adjacent article on the more than 300 incidents of drunken bar brawls and assaults on one night in the London area failed to mention the fact that the assailants were white. As for xenophobia, the sports sections of the newspapers were filled with articles about the exploits of the British participants at Wimbledon, but very little about the players favored to win the whole thing: Pete Sampras and Venus Williams. The newspages of the various papers I read had very little on news from the rest of the world, content instead to a series of articles on why the Royal Family didn’t attend the opening of a kids playground dedicated to the late Princess Di. The one place where I felt completely at ease and was treated as just another human was Notting Hill, and particularly Portobello Road. I realize that America is far from perfect but its faults are equalled, and in some cases, surpassed, by England.
User Detail :Name : Ken, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : Black/African American, Religion : Catholic, Age : 32, City : Chicago, State : IL Country : United States, Occupation : marketing, Education level : 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, July 10, 2000 at 12:00 am #32585
I fully agree with Kent from Melbourne – just by reading the kinds of questions posted in the Yforum each week, it does seem that Americans just ignore the rest of the world a lot of the time. In comparison with Americans, I find that although Britsh people distinguish heavily between class, they are quite accepting of people from different nationalities and cultures.
User Detail :Name : Netta, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Agnostic, Age : 18, City : Armidale, State : NA Country : Australia, Occupation : Student, Education level : High School Diploma, Social class : Middle class, July 15, 2000 at 12:00 am #37801
As a Londoner and somoneone who identifies with being British i have to agree. While personally i am not or don’t consider myself racist I can accept and in some way agree that some members of my nation can be catagoried as racists. Why this is so i cannot competely nail down however i can give an indication as to why this may be the case. Throughtout British history there, i feel, has been an attitute/ arrogrance that British is best. Think about the (sorry to mention it) the war and such like, which i feel is or partely leads to racisim by my fellow nationals. Why do we sterotype and ‘degrade’ as part of our humour? First you are assuming that you automatically degrade when sterotyping occurs, which doesn’t always happen. Your fellings are that when sterotypes are made degration ocuurs which i feel is acceptable although not always true. Another point is that you express ‘humour’ in commas, why? To answer your question i think its just a way of catagorising a particular group of people or cultures to explore their idenity. Why this is done through the medium of humour i cannot answer and would like another viewpoint. The last question is interesting ‘how can they say all these people are stupid’ with good conciece? You said this not me or anyone else which is in itself a sterotype of us. (don’t worry I am not offended because i believe that this is not true nor has ever been true.) What are British children taught about other cultures? Having been through the British education system and living, working and studying in the UK the answer is simple, the same as you. What have you been taught? I have a question for you as an American. Why do or does America claim everything is theres or that they invested everthing?
User Detail :Name : Barry Alstein, Gender : M, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Age : 20, City : London, State : NA Country : United Kingdom, Occupation : University Student, August 11, 2000 at 12:00 am #41318
I’m originally from Brazil and have been living in Britain three years now. I speak incorrect English with a very strong accent and I’m sure I’m foreigner all the way: I gesticulate a lot, kiss my British friends to their embarrasment and don’t wear the ‘British uniform’ (it’s black top to toe, in case you are wondering). Yet I’ve never experienced any form of discrimination. On the contrary. As soon as I open my mouth, people always note my strong accent and usually ask me where I’m from, how I like living in Britain, this sort of thing. People are very polite to me at work as well. I’m white, and many people at first think I’m from Spain or Italy, so I cannot say anything about being black in Britain. I’m sorry to know about your bad experience – something must have happened to you to reach such a conclusion.
User Detail :Name : Adri, Gender : F, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Catholic, Age : 30, City : Cambridge, State : NA Country : United Kingdom, Education level : Over 4 Years of College, Social class : Middle class, September 28, 2000 at 12:00 am #39710
As a British female living in the New York area for six years, I feel I am qualified to comment on British attitudes compared to American attitudes in regard to humor, ‘foreigners’ and racism. British humor is cutting and sarcastic, but more often than not, British people themselves are the subject of such scrutiny (i.e. Black Adder, Young Ones, Eddie Izzard, Lennie Henry…). The reason you may view the humor as more ‘stereotypical’ than American humor is that Americans are so careful to maintain their ‘political correctness’ that they have forgotten about humor, and about the strange and funny differences between people (remember, humor IS sarcastic by nature). You may be referring to white comedians mocking what Americans would call ‘racial minorities,’ but in England these ‘minorities’ are merely neighbors, friends, etc. and considered just as much a part of British society as whites, and therefore do not need to be treated with any special ‘sensitivity.’
You are probably used to American white comedians tiptoeing around racial issues through fear of being labeled ‘racist,’ but black and Latino comedians (i.e. Chris Rock, Martin Lawrence) stereotyping (hatefully so) white people – hence it appears more shocking to you when a white Brit does it. American jokes about someone of a different race become ‘them and us’ jokes, but British jokes about another race are merely ‘people’ jokes.
On the issue of xenophobia, as a child, I did not – from my parents, school or television – ‘get the impression’ that the British felt themselves superior to people of other countries. I can’t imagine where you would get such a notion. In fact, when I came to the United States, I found that I could relate more to non-European/Western people than their fellow Americans – probably in part because the British school system is more inclusive in its teaching, incorporating worldwide issues as well as British history, and hence allowing me to be more in tune to the very ways you wrongly assume us (Brits) to despise.
Finally, I am amazed that you could live in New York and think the British to be racist. New York is extremely racist, with open hostility toward every group from every group, and a tendency to associate only with those of the same color.
Regina, I think your British ‘sources’ are not an entirely accurate reflection of ‘real’ British people and attitudes.
User Detail :Name : Limey, Gender : F, City : New York, State : NY Country : United States, April 6, 2001 at 12:00 am #33872
I know you probably didn’t mean to offend, but your question offended me. I’m British and although there aren’t many ethnic minorities in my area, I have nothing against anyone of a different race, unless they have done something so bad that I can’t forgive them. I have never been taught anything formally about accepting others, but my parents have brought me up not to discriminate unfairly.
User Detail :Name : Emma, Gender : F, Sexual Orientation : Straight, Race : White/Caucasian, Religion : Christian, Age : 15, City : Cheshire, State : NA Country : United Kingdom, Occupation : student, Education level : Less than High School Diploma, Social class : Lower middle class, July 2, 2001 at 12:00 am #36975
I am half-English but grew up abroad, so I think I’m fairly impartial on this matter and see both sides of the argument. I don’t think Brits are more racist than other European nations, but there IS a nasty xenophobia in public discourse. The sad thing about Britain is that the tabloids here are very influential, very popular and they ARE extraordinarily crass. They do feed a constant stream of rubbish into public life which takes the breath away if you are not used to it. I am endlessly shocked by the way even half-clever papers like London’s Evening Standard constantly use offensive language to refer to asylum seekers, and the Labour party will not fight that. Some of the worst offenders here belong to Mr R.Murdoch of New York by the way.
User Detail :Name : Matthew, Gender : M, Race : English/French, Religion : Atheist, Age : 29, City : London, State : NA Country : United Kingdom, Education level : 2 Years of College,
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