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Does racialised media harm multiculturalism?

Untitled 153 Does racialised media harm multiculturalism? The recent riots have demonstrated that, contrary to Thatcher’s sentiments, society does exist.

Last week, Sikh men in Southall stood defending a mosque whilst Muslims prayed. We see a clear example of multiculturalism and community cohesion at work; two different communities working together as part of the same community to achieve a common goal.

London is a clear example of this. Over 250 languages are spoken here – making it the most multi-lingual city on Earth. This is a clear triumph of multiculturalism.

The ability of a 21st century Brit to eat a Turkish kebab, watch Indian TV, take part in a Sikh festival and go to Church every Sunday is a blessing of our multiculturalism. A person is not restricted in what culture he or she can consume and express.

Ken Livingstone, writing for The Independent, said: “Multiculturalism has made London a diverse city with the greatest range of individual choice on earth.”

Yet we see a different story in the media. It is argued that racialised mediadoes not work for community cohesion and multicultural harmony.

Media outlets such as BBC Asian Network and The Voice segregate media consumption along racial lines by target specific racial audiences. Media outlets such as BBC Asian Network also work to ‘tick boxes’ for ethnic quotas.

The BBC almost took down BBC Asian Network in July – partly because they could not identify their target audience. This makes a lot of sense. Painting the radio station with the ‘Asian’ brush suggests a target audience with a diverse range of languages and cultures – there is no ‘Asian’ audience.

In addition, painting the Asian community as the BBC Asian Network also inhibits the usual gender and age targeting which most successful radio stations do effectively.

Vijay Rana, former BBC radio editor, said: “They were never sure who they were broadcasting to. South Asian radio audience in this country is largely 45+ and a large part of them are women”.

Ethnic media outlets allow the establishment to ‘tick boxes’ and keep themselves on the right side of quota requirements. This is the problem with the ‘tick box’ culture –a culture which plagues society as a whole. It is a culture which works to segment ethnic groups.

But there is a flipside to this argument. Ethnic and mainstream media can work to improve community cohesion and multicultural harmony by competing for each other’s audiences –forcing them to target their material at more than one community. By doing so, they would be forced to find common grounds between communities.

I caught up with Sunny Hundal, editor of Liberal Conspiracy and founder of Asians in Media. He said: ‘‘I think it is good for mainstream audiences to poach ethnic audiences and for ethnic stations to poach mainstream audiences.’

The varying ethnic communities in the UK need to find common ground – an area the media can improve by poaching audiences. However, the industry must remain vigilant and not compartmentalise its audiences on racial lines.

Doing so would be detrimental to multiculturalism.

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  • Europeanonion

    I don’t mind this diversification but I wish that
    British-ness was the dominant culture. Whereas the writer can identify discreet
    groupings of peoples the British can not. One would imagine that white
    Christians prayed and white neighbourhoods turned out to protect their own. But
    as always it is the usual exceptions putting on a show that are used to confirm
    their place in society. I wish the Sikhs had not closed down a play in
    Birmingham and the Muslims had not those in its midst, still yet to be
    condemned by that commonwealth, as being murderous and totally anti-social;
    anti-society equipped with a mania that has in its seeds the capability to make
    even these riots look like small beer. Fortunately I lived in Britain before
    the mass immigration and the diversity became a thing to be encouraged. I
    thought that the society was complete then and fail to see that a mere menu item
    can be corroborative of desirable change (curry gets a mention in ‘Vanity Fair’
    at Vauxhall Gardens, but that was the Empire curry and therefore indigestible).
    The fact is that Britain could have progressed without the addition of untold
    millions; the fact is that the untold millions came to Britain for succour and
    then, once here, developed their thesis of separatism. And as for the execrable
    Ken Livingstone, people will say anything when votes are to be won and others
    will believe anything as long as it seems to furnish their cause. I have heard
    it said that the media in its presentation of the riots ‘focused’ on the black
    content, for their seemed to be an awful lot of them. This is another face of
    the undesirable and unmentionable accompaniment to immigration. There is that
    impulse, that awful folly, of grouping all of a race, all of a colour into one
    personification; for the outcome is that no matter what is done to present opportunity
    and progress on a plate, because of the accretion of all as being of one
    identity, there is a general drift to the lowest common denominator, the
    advantage seeker, the exception seeker who can demolish the good intent and
    industry of others of that classification and present no outward change. The
    work of the many we saw rioting will have touched a nerve. These were Blair’s
    children, given computers, legislated for their advantage, indulged, forgiven,
    promoted to the level of exception. I saw no mitigation in their attitude
    towards their adopted society. The vain of their demands, the poor me and the
    call for ever more special status, has become a refrain that we should resist,
    stop our ears too. It has done us no good and self-evidently not changed their
    perceptions or self-realisation. Statistically more white British and more
    traditionally British outdid their foreign counterparts in praying and
    defending just by sheer statistical probability. The argument is fatuous
    because it calls on the compaction of the single identity which we know to be a
    complete falsehood. Rather than talking about us and them I am looking to a
    time of the individual and judging them apart for their good works rather than
    the cheap heist of character distinction. Having said that, because the
    imposition of collectivism on young minds, it would be encouraging if the
    Government made special exception for people prosecuted for these riot
    associated offences. There is something in our system that is retributive, the
    CRB being emblematic of that curse. If we want people to reform then we should
    offer them some opportunity to put a misdemeanour behind them, the second
    chance should be available for people who do their time and who show repentance
    about their deeds. CRB and these sentences should have a statute of erosion
    attached to them or at least suspension of records, pending a second offence.
    That would be fair all round. As for temporary immigrants and those here for economic
    advantage who took part in these malodorous happenings, deport them and waste
    no more good money on hopelessness and charlatanism.

  • Jake_K

    OK, to an extent.  That BBC item says “On Tuesday night Sikh men in Southall, many with hockey sticks, stood guard outside a Sikh and a Hindu temple and a mosque following Monday’s disorder.” 

    Not necessarily ”whilst Muslims prayed” – just a tiny distinction, but one that seems to reveal that you have looked at a secondary source and extrapolated an “interesting detail” of your own. 

    “whilst Muslims prayed” adds a lovely veneer of empathy, sure, and makes for a more meaningful point.  But given that this seems to be your first column in a paper so recently bereft of Johann Hari, I respectfully suggest that being as painstakingly accurate as possible is a great idea – anecdotes or examples need to be based on primary sources, and unvarnished primary sources at that.

    As above, unless you were in Southall at the relevant time and place or in direct communication with a person you trust to be accurate who was there, then you need to be very careful.  If you are utterly certain about the details, then add why in your article.

    MPs and bankers are not the only professions who have a little to prove!

  • pullover5

    you do realise that the christian heritage you speak of is actually a product of multiculturalism, don’t you?  You should also be aware that the ‘rich cultural heritage’ of England is a product of various people coming over here and refusing to blend in.

    The Normans, the Vikings and the Romans were all foreigners, pretending England was an extension of their own country.  By comparison I think the newcomers are much more polite and most people show a love and respect for the country.  It’ll take a while to blend in though, but they will…

  • pullover5

    I don’t believe circumcision is genital mutilation.

    Yes it is a ‘you can do whatever you like providing the law doesn’t disapprove’ formlticulturalism. THere has to be boundaries in everything…

    We’re getting by okay.

    Why do you want everyone to be miserable, is it part of your culture?

  • pullover5

    I think most of us Brits have already been implementing this, but in Spain by mistake.

  • pullover5

    Does that mean the BBC should stop funding all these Welsh programs and websites?

    Perhaps I don’t want my TV licence money to go to making a program only nine people will watch. 

    And stop using all the consonants, we need some for English subtitles.

    or are you coming from the angle that the ANglo Saxons should go home to Germany and leave Britain to the Celts, cos this multiculturalism thing isn’t really working, they’ve got all the road signs in English except in Wales, for a start.

    Araf Nawr!

  • pullover5

    If only editors of newspapers had your sense of integrity and scepticism. 


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