Two: The growth of xeno-racism and Islamophobia in Britain


This chapter looks at the growth of ‘xeno-racism’ – a ‘non-colour-coded’ racism that is based on conceptions of immigration status, culture and religion. Racism is not a static concept. Within social work understandings of ‘race’ and racism Peter Fryer’s (1984) important three-fold distinction of the racisms of slavery, empire and post-war migration has often been utilised. Martin Barker (1981) in the early 1980s was already arguing that there was clear evidence of a ‘new’ racism that focused on culture (and was exemplified by Thatcher’s infamous ‘swamping speech’ in the run up to the 1979 General Election). The chapter argues this process has continued and deepened as a result of political and economic changes over the last 25 years. It is exemplified in media debates, in policy frameworks around asylum seeking and in state controlling frameworks for so-called ‘problem communities’. The relevance for social workers is obvious: the victims of racism may be black and Asian men or women, or they could be Polish or Romanian workers, or people from Roma communities or perhaps, most demonised of all, people from Muslim communities from anywhere across the globe. In practice and in understandings of the world there is the need to be aware of the structural and institutional barriers that social workers, social care workers and social work service users from these racialised groups will face.

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