Race and Faith: The Deafening Silence
Trevor Phillips, May 2016
For more than half a millennium, Britain has managed diversity through a process of organic integration, with newcomers and their traditions gradually absorbed into the culture. But in this new age of ‘superdiversity’, with more people of very different backgrounds arriving in greater numbers than ever before, is that enough?
Trevor Phillips, the former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, argues that Britain has become complacent about its ability to manage its diversity, and that integration is not treated as the priority it should be.
There are two principal problems, he argues. One is that while overt bigotry has declined, society is becoming more and more stratified by racial and ethnic differences. The other is that the world-views of very different groups are colliding.
Incompatible attitudes to sex, religion, belief and the rule of law are producing frictions for which the tried and tested social lubricants now seem just too thin.
The response of our political and media elites has too often been evasion, driven by a fear that talking about the issues will stigmatise vulnerable groups, and to blame the historic prejudices of the dominant majority.
Phillips warns that this stance is dangerously misguided and will not do any more. Squeamishness about diversity risks the country sleepwalking to catastrophe, setting community against community and undermining Britain’s tradition of liberal democracy.
His essay is accompanied by commentaries from David Goodhart, author of The British Dream: Successes and Failures of Post-War Immigration, and Jon Gower Davies, whose past Civitas publications include Small Corroding Words: The slighting of Great Britain by the EHRC.
In the Media
About the Author
Trevor Phillips is a writer and television producer. He is the chair of Green Park Diversity Analytics, and the deputy chair of the board of the National Equality Standard. He was the founding chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. He is the president of the John Lewis Partnership Council; the chair of the Workers’ Educational Association; the vice-chair of the New York-based Center for Talent Innovation; a Fellow of the Migration Policy Institute (Washington DC) and of Imperial College London. He is the co-author (with Mike Phillips) of Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multiracial Britain.
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