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ETHNIC MINORITIES

"There is a profound hypocrisy—and deep historical ignorance—when Europeans complain about the problems posed by the ethnic and religious minorities in their midst, for that is exactly what European colonial rule meant for peoples around the world"

Martin Jacques

Even though there is no specific definition to depict an ethnic minority (for exact details see here), ethnic minorities do, nonetheless, differ from Indigenous people in that the latter are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. They have retained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they now have to live. Despite their cultural differences, Indigenous peoples from around the world share common problems related to the protection of their rights as distinct peoples. In the large part—and as a result of colonisation—Indigenous peoples have been frequently dispossessed of their land, homes and, in many instances, their culture. Distressingly, the cultural genocide that has occurred in countries such as America, Australia and Canada has been long-term and is still being felt to this day.

 

When, however, we refer to ethnic minorities we are discussing groups who are distinct from the majority (in the UK, for instance, those who are not 'White British'). These minority groups usually possess shared characteristics such as race, religion, language, culture, ancestry and so on. Whilst, as stated, this distinguishes these groups from the majority it is important to acknowledge white ethnic minorities such as those within the Gypsy, Roma, Traveller (GRT) community who may present as white also suffer from discrimination, prejudice, racism and hate. This is why it is important to acknowledge ethnic minorities as opposed to placing emphases upon race and Nation States alone. By acknowledging the way that diverse peoples identify with each other, as distinct from the majority, we can be better equipped to recognise, appreciate and combat the prejudices these groups have to currently encounter.

 

Moreover, race and the status of racial minorities is very much tied to power and who holds it in society. While there are a multitude of different ways that racism is defined and perceived, it is important to be clear about the ways in which racism is being addressed. The racism we can identify in the street of individual interactions, for example someone using a racial slur, is something that most can comprehend. Legislation should and needs to be in place to combat this. More insidiously, though, the racism that is increasingly being acknowledged is structural and based on who holds power in society. This is how racism is able to function at an institutional level (i.e. in the police, the NHS and within Parliament in the UK) and this is also how people can be subject to increased scrutiny by the police and judiciary. In addition, it is why some are denied opportunities over others and, ultimately, how supremacy (usually ‘white’ but not always) and privilege is maintained.

 

Taken in this context, the relationship between racism, conflict, alienation and marginalisation is, at this moment in time, increasingly being scrutinised by academic scholarship as well as being significantly brought to public attention through investigatory work undertaken by activists and practitioners. (In)justice International is thus committed to developing and disseminating the important strides being made in this field. And when considered in the light of this environment, it is our specific aim to promote the less frequently heard voices from minority communities within a State, GRT communities and those from the Global South. For relevant videos click here.