New geographies of racism: Stoke-on-Trent

November 15, 2011 — Press release

Written by IRR News Team

Research published by the Institute of Race Relations shows that the geography of racial violence is changing rapidly in the UK and yet the authorities show little interest in tackling the problem.

Focusing on Stoke-on-Trent, which has been devastated by deindustrialisation, and where the proportion of the city’s Black and Minority Ethnic population has doubled in two decades, The new geographies of racism: Stoke-on-Trent records a series of serious and systematic attacks on the city’s BME communities. According to Jon Burnett, the report’s author it is not a racism which ever claims national attention. It was only when there was a real prospect of the British National Party making significant electoral inroads that Stoke became of interest to the political class.

This report highlights:

  • A vicious pattern of attacks has emerged in Stoke which has seen asylum seekers forced from their schools, mosques defaced, Muslims seriously assaulted, workers in cab firms and takeaways attacked and long-standing residents in the city harassed and abused.
  • Some victims of racial violence have been so let down by the criminal justice system that they have been forced to turn to self-defence so as to protect themselves and their families.
  • The ways in which mainstream politics has shifted to accommodate the messages of extremists and created conditions in which both far-right movements and racial violence could thrive.

Dr Jon Burnett, author of the report, said, ‘The attacks which have taken place in Stoke recently provide the clearest evidence of how moves to accommodate the message of the Far Right in mainstream politics have impacted at a local level. The BNP may have lost all their council seats in 2011, but the conditions for ongoing racial violence remain. Stoke is not an isolate but exemplifies a national trend. We need to take heed and act now on racial violence. For as the recession begins to impact, things will only get worse.’

Notes to editors

1) Dr Jon Burnett is a researcher at the Institute of Race Relations.

2) This is the second of three reports investigating changing patterns of racial violence in the UK. The first of these reports, on the city of Plymouth, can be downloaded here: The new geographies of racism: Plymouth.

3) This work on the UK’s new geographies of racism emerged from a briefing paper, Racial violence: the buried issue, published in 2010.

4) Serious racist attacks in Stoke which have taken place in the last few years have included the hospitalisation of an Indian takeaway worker, in November 2011, after he was attacked with a lump of masonry; an attempt to blow up a mosque; a worker in a Turkish takeaway being cut with a knife, a paving slab thrown through the window of the premises and protection money being demanded by the attackers; a delivery driver forced to hide in his vehicle as youths threw bottles and glass at him; and, on the eve of a march by the English Defence League, taxi firms having to suspend their services, reportedly as a result of death-threats against drivers.

5) Read the IRR’s research, The new geographies of racism: Stoke-on-Trent, here (pdf file, 440kb).

6) For further information call the IRR on 020 7837 0041 or 07753 741 129 or email: jon@irr.org.uk.

Related links

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The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

Comments

August 1, 2012
Equiano:

Stoke on Trent and indeed county of Staffordshire is without any doubt one of the most, if not the most, racist town/county in England. I have lived all around England, North and South, lived overseas and yet have never encountered the level of casual, cold, openly racist hostility I experience daily from the majority of the city’s white population, which is all the more remarkable as I am a polite, friendly, well spoken, educated brown male. They seem to feel completely entitled to treat any non-white person like dirt…and seemingly expect no consequence for this abhorrent behaviour. It is beyond belief. If I did not know better I would think I was in a ‘hick’ town somewhere in the deep South. The most remarkable thing though, is that the black locals seem oblivious to the incredibly high levels of racism they face. Even when I see them being humiliated or treated poorly in a store for example, they just shrug their shoulders in resignation or just accept this behaviour. Indeed they seem to think that being treated like this is all they can expect out of life and is infact acceptable! I would advise them to spend some time outside of Stoke and Staffordshire in general…and see what life can possibly be like. You don’t have to live like this, you don’t deserve to be treated as a lesser human being…To any non white person thinking of investing, studying, working or just moving to Stoke on Trent….AVOID AT ALL COSTS!!. Buy a time machine and go back to Apartheid South Africa or Perhaps the deep South circa 1964….you might find a warmer welcome and generally have an easier time….Ok I exaggerate but you get the gist. Avoid at all costs. There are some very deep Socio economic problems here, and the white folks do not like brown folks…But they do love the BNP…Personally I’m getting the hell out of here as fast as I can.

September 25, 2012
Anon:

Yes, Stoke loves the BNP. Never mind they’ve been turfed out the Council chamber and that two far right parties could only muster 29 votes between them in a recent local by-election.

The above is one of the most ridiculous comments I’ve ever read. Stoke is no more or less racist than any other medium-sized city.

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