Sunset Segregation is when you work in an office where you are surrounded by colleagues from multi-cultural Britain. You talk about the work, the stress, the ups and downs of work life. You might even discuss your families, what you did over the weekend, and share confidences. You might even go out later for a drink or a meal.
But then you go home to your part of the city, to your end of town where the people who live there are like you.
To summarise we like being segregated. We like being with our own kind. We feel safe and secure.
It is ironic that to state the obvious and what is backed up by evidence is so difficult to say. The men in Rotherham grooming under age girls were mainly Pakistani. Jewish household income is twice the national average. The building industry is dominated by the Irish. Victoria Climbie was murdered by her Ivorian mother.
The underlying force propping up the taboo is race. Everyone fears race. Nobody wants to be accused of being racist. Yet we all racist. We all have prejudices about our own race and other races. To be prejudiced, to discriminate is an essential human trait. It helps us decide what is friendly and what is dangerous. It is a human instinct which is hard wired into us. It is to protect us in life and death situations in the jungle, on the plains, in the mountains thousands of years ago.
But like a lot of our instincts it is less useful in the modern world where we are physically safer and have more chance of surviving.
Working in therapy groups with members of different ethnicities – with time and patience to create a secure safe environment – race can be thought about. It usually involves offending somebody, and anger. Once this can be survived race can be worked through to the person behind. In the end all the ethnicities in the group are transcended by the personality underneath. It sounds obvious: but there is a risk to talking about race which many of us feel we can ill afford. To offend a person in a public situation is difficult to come back from. It needs intelligence, space, safety and above all good will. No wonder we feel like not talking about race.
Copyright Adrian Scott North London Counsellor Blog 2015
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Disclaimer: This weblog is the view of the writer and for general information only.
This article is designed to provoke argument and critique.