the Disillusioned kid: This White-British Blogger on Hazel Blears Latest Idea
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Monday, August 08, 2005

This White-British Blogger on Hazel Blears Latest Idea

The government is quickly backtracking from its suggestion, reported in many of today's papers, that ethnic minorities take on new titles in order to strengthen their sense of "Britishness". Home Office minister Hazel Blears had suggested that members of ethnic minorities be known by US-style hyphenated names such as Asian-British or Pakistani-British.

Those of you familiar with A Thousand Plateaus may want to ponder what conclusions a Deleuzo-Guattarian reading of this proposal might reach. The rest of us will have to content ourselves with a consideration of what the idea might tell us about those who suggested it.

I think Lee Bryant of is onto something when he opines, "As an enthusiastic and earnest new Labour Minister, Hazel Blears presumably believes that no problem in life is so intractable that it cannot be solved with re-branding or a new logo." Arguably the idea is consistent with a polycultural worldview insofar as it acknowledges that individuals are not monocultural islands, but instead the product of complicated cultural interactions. Nevertheless, it is unlikely it would achieve what it set out to, even if the government could find a way to encourage widespread use of the new terms. In large part, this is because it feels like a way of trying to respond to the problem without doing anything about its causes.

There is no doubt that there are people from ethnic minorities in this country who feel alienated. This hasn't come about, however, because they haven't had enough hyphens. It is, instead, a consequence in large part of the conditions in which they live (members of ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented in unemployment and poverty figures); the racism many of them have been subjected to; and a rejection of British foreign policy. Dealing with these problems would entail serious changes on the part of the government, many - perhaps even most - of which they are unwilling to bring about.

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