WORLD English people no longer see white skin as important sign of national identity


English people no longer see white skin as important sign of national identity

China Daily Global

10:30, July 01, 2019

(Photo: IC)

English people increasingly see white skin as irrelevant to their national identity, according to a new study from the Centre for English Identity and Politics and British Future.

The analysis, a follow-up to the organizations' 2012 study titled This Sceptred Isle, found that, while the English viewed white skin as important in the past, they no longer feel it matters-and much of the change has been among the older generation.

Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, told the Guardian newspaper that English people have benefitted from seeing people of color proudly represent the nation in sports and other endeavors.

"An inclusive England may be symbolized by (soccer players) Raheem Sterling and Nikita Parris scoring goals for England, or (cricketer) Moeen Ali taking wickets in the World Cup, but it also reflects the lived reality of who most of us now think of as English," he said.

The study found that the number of people who believe white skin is required for someone to be properly English had halved in the past seven years. Today, only around 10 percent of English people think it is important. In 2012, 20 percent thought it was. Among the over-65s, 16 percent think white skin is important today, while 35 percent did in 2012.

The report writers said the findings challenge the perception that English had become more racist at the time of the 2016 referendum decision to leave the European Union. They said the nation had, in fact, become much more inclusive.

In addition to the changing attitudes around skin color, the survey found English people are softening in their attitude toward where a person's parents are from. In 2012, 56 percent of those surveyed thought a person's parents needed to have been born in England for them to be properly English. Today, 48 percent share that thought, a fall of 8 percent.

"There has been an important generational shift in how we think about England and the English," said Katwala.

The survey found that more than 70 percent of English people defined the three most important characteristics of being English as: being born in England, paying taxes in England, and contributing to English society.

John Denham, director of the Centre for English Identity and Politics, said: "The idea that English is an ethnic identity is widely repeated in the media and politics. That Englishness has become even more inclusive at a time in which our society has become more divided is to be welcomed. Ethnicity is clearly much less important outside a small hardcore of residents. The further development of an inclusive Englishness would benefit from positive engagement by leaders across the political spectrum. This should aim to encourage BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) citizens to see English identity as open to them and that the strongest English identifiers continue to support the opening up of English identity."

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