Racial Euphemisms at the Telegraph

Here’s a euphemism laden sentence from a Daily Telegraph editorial:

[The research] shows a continuing pattern of “white flight” from areas where indigenous Britons find themselves surrounded by new minority communities.

Where they say ‘indigenous’ they mean ‘white’, and when they say ‘minority communities’ they mean not-white (Aisha Phoenix called this out in The LIP Magazine, a decaded ago).  The posh language dresses a racial issue as a cultural one.

And the research in question is questionable.  I found the Telegraph editorial via a blog post by Jonanthan Portes of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.  Portes was taking on the grand claims for “white flight” by David Goodhart in his book The British Dream.  If people in the ‘White British’ group are leaving London, they are doing so in relatively small numbers.

6 thoughts on “Racial Euphemisms at the Telegraph

  1. I think this is incorrect. “Indiginous” Britons are mostly white, it is true, but not completely so. The incomplete correlation of culture and race does not mean that cultural issues do not exist, or are “really” racial ones. Denying the importance of “indiginous” culture to those of whatever colour who embody it is dangerous and divisive. It’s also a great shame (and a hindrance to the multicultural ethos) if the role of cultural factors in racism is ignored, underestimated, derided, or denied. I would argue that a great deal of what counts as racism these days is underpinned by cultural concerns, and I really don’t believe that this is the way to combat it. #justsaying

  2. True. But it could just be a sort of short-hand for indiginous culture. I haven’t read it, but if if’s an academic thing, I bet that’s what it is. They like things that rhyme and are easy to remember.

    1. Oh, in academia, yeah, sure, indigenous is a legitimate word with a specific meaning. Anthropology FTW.

      But I’m complaining about its use in the Telegraph where I suspect its a lazy short hand way of saying ‘white people’…

      … Or (and this refers to your earlier point) perhaps they’re trying to find a way of saying their British culture. You know, that slice of British culture that includes Elgar and Wodehouse but excludes the Notting Hill Carnival.

      I’m picking at this because the BNP like using the word ‘indigenous’ to mean ‘traditional white’ and I do not like to see the Telegraph using the same language to muddle the same issues of race and culture that the BNP love to do. David Goodhart should know better too.

      True ‘indigenous’ British culture may be hard to find, because most ‘culture’ is a mish-mash of influences. Billy Bragg’s brilliant ‘England, Half-English’ eloquently points out that icons like St George and Britannia are foreign.

      There was a hilarious episode where Nick Griffin cited Eliza Carthy as an example of good British culture, as opposed to all the ‘multi-culti’ (sic) music that is popular. Only problem being that Carthy is well known for, and has achieved success in folk-fusion with artists from other world music genres, like Sheila Chandra and Johnny Kalsi on the Imagined Village project.

      Meanwhile, comedies like ‘Goodness Gracious Me’ and the entire Grime music scene are surely ‘indigenous’ to the UK yet surely not what the BNP and the Telegraph refer to when they use the word.

      Finally, its not quite clear precisely how the foreign culture replaces the indigenous culture in the big urban centres. The complexion of the people walking down the street is dark… And there are many Indian restaurants on one street where I live (my area is a popular Asian hub in London) but its not clear to me how that impacts on the cultural practices of everyone else. The Christmas Lights go up much earlier where I live because of the Axis of Winterval (Diwali/Eid etc.) but that’s no reason for white people to move to Southend.

  3. I suppose it boils down to whether you think that 2nd or 3rd generation immigrants count as “indigenous”. Personally, I don’t think they do. We all know that “indigenous Australians” doesn’t tend to be used to denote white people, despite 200+ years of settlement. And it depends too on whether you think it’s acceptable, or racist, to have a word to denote people with no immigrants in their last 4 or 5 generations (this of course will exclude many white people, btw). Personally, I think it’s racist, or at least discriminatory not to.

    Eliza Carthy is indeed a fine example of British culture, and I don’t think it’s hilarious at all for someone to pick her, because what she is in fact best known for, if you’ve followed her work, is playing traditional british folk music. The fact that she may also collaborate with other musicians on a few occasions is neither here nor there. (By the way, have you heard Ethno In Transit? They are ace, far better than Village, IMO).

    Indian restaurants may not be (in your opinion) a reason to move to Southend. But feeling like a cultural minority because of the quantity of Indian restaurants certainly is a perfectly valid reason to want to move to Cornwall. It’s not that one’s own cultural practices are themselves changed by other people’s, but the context in which one performs them is important to many people. This is why certain ethnic groups tend to group together in various places. No-one likes feeling like a minority. I think you miss a trick if you overlook this, or deny this aspect of humanity to people because they happen to be white. Aside from anything else, it makes them angry and racist!

  4. Really enjoyed this discussion. It is a good intellectual work out for yours truly, just checking my brain power, it pains me that I have to read the discussion several times to “get” it and at the end I don’t know what I think !
    Sorry not to contribute properly to the discussion.

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