How Culture Came to Appropriate Race

Malik, Kenan

Publisher:  Pandaemonium - Kenan Malik's blog
Date Written:  02/07/2017
Year Published:  2017  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX21060

Racism has historically played a major role in shaping adoption practices.



Last week, Sandeep and Reena Mander were denied the chance to adopt a child. It was not because their local council, Windsor and Maidenhead, thought that they would not have provided a loving family home. Nor because there were no children to adopt. It is rather that the Manders are of Indian Sikh heritage – though both born in Britain – and the only children needing adoption were white. 'They took the colour of our skin as the overriding reason not to progress with the application', Mr Mander said.

Many have seen in the attitude of Windsor and Maidenhead council a straightforward case of racism. The councillors are predominantly white, and overwhelmingly Conservative. They 'appear not to appreciate diversity' claimed Narinderjit Singh, general secretary of the Sikh Federation (UK).

The problem runs much deeper, however, than the attitudes of the undiverse members of one local council. It speaks to a broader confusion about the relationship between race and culture; a confusion that afflicts anti-racists as much as it does racists.

Few people these days claim that whites and Indians are racially incompatible. But many argue that whites – or, more euphemistically, 'Europeans' or 'Westerners' – and Indians (and blacks and Chinese and countless others) belong to distinct cultures and possess discrete identities. Many argue, too, that especially for children, it is important not to undermine their sense of identity or create confusion about their cultural attachments.
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