Broadcast Rivers of Blood?

BBC marks 50th anniversary of Enoch Powell’s speech

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How to fight racism

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

The argument that racism was the product of its time is completely and utterly inexcusable.

Racism and discrimination was wrong then, and it is wrong now. Attacking someone for the colour of their skin or their nationality does not come easily, it is not a natural thought. Evil takes effort - it is not an automatic behaviour, it is learned.

Racism should not be viewed "in context" of its era. When Enoch Powell spouted his infamous 'Rivers of Blood' speech, there were plenty of people ready to condemn the Tory firebrand. He was sacked from Edward Heath's shadow cabinet, with his colleagues Iain Macleod, Edward Boyle, Quintin Hogg and Robert Carr all threatening to resign from the front bench. The newspapers at the time branded Powell a "racialist" after his "evil speech". The Times claimed: "This is the first time that a serious British politician has appealed to racial hatred in this direct way in our postwar history."

And sadly, it was not the last time. The far right has played on fears about immigration, inciting racism through its populist movements - whether it is Donald Trump in America or UKIP, the BNP and the EDL closer to home. By allowing such stances to continue and staying silent, people become complicit in the nasty behaviour, a mute accomplice.

The minorities remain a scapegoat, but it can be challenged. Thought Catalog calls action against racism "the antidote to fear". Challenging the behaviour needs to be more than just unfriending someone on Facebook or disengaging from the racist - all you have done by that is make yourself more comfortable. Whether it is the bigoted family member, friend, colleague or stranger, you can influence them. "They are your community; we have a social responsibility to one another - and to the broader suffering our continued complicity in racism creates," they write.

As well as looking outward, ThoughtCo believes that looking inside also combats racism on an individual level. They suggest having hard conversations with yourself about racism that lives within you:

"When you find yourself making an assumption about people, places, or things, challenge yourself by asking whether you know the assumption to be true, or if it is something you have simply been taught to believe by a racist society. Consider facts and evidence, especially those found in academic books and articles about race and racism, rather than hearsay and 'common sense'."

While fighting racism is a personal triumph - although it ought to be common sense - remember that the conversation is "not all about you", Buzzfeed argues. The fight is not just against individual racism, but the larger issue of structural racism. "This is perpetuated throughout history and is present in education, politics, public safety, culture, health, and also social relations," it explains.

Racism is as prevalent as it was when Epoch Powell gave his fear-mongering, racist 'Rivers of Blood' speech in 1968. Condemnation is one thing, but the fight against racism requires action - both from the individual and the system.

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