In 2010, Rafaela Dancygier’s Immigration and Conflict in Europe was published. In the sections about the UK, her study predominantly focuses on immigrant-native conflict in Tower Hamlets, East London. She argues that it is political and economic factors that determine levels of conflict, rather than perceived ethnic and cultural ones.
2010’s The New Extremism in 21st Century Britain, edited by Roger Eatwell and Matthew Goodwin, examines the rise of both Islamic fundamentalism and far-right political parties and protest groups. It charts the success of the British National Party and prevalence of the English Defence League and attempts to understand how this has come about in the wake of the London terrorist attacks of 2005. The study suggests that socio-cultural, political and financial exclusion all contribute to extremism on both sides of the perceived divide (See also Ford and Goodwin, 2014; Kaufman and Harris, 2014).
Ferdinand Sutterlüty’s 2014 article The Hidden Morale of the 2005 French and 2011 English Riots asserts that the 2011 riots in Britain did not fit into the prevailing analyses that described them as either ‘race riots’, ‘issueless riots’ or ‘riots of defective consumers’. Instead, he argues that the rioters’ previous experiences of the urban school system and state police contributed to an anger that was then directed against what they saw as the symbols of a financial and political class who had failed in their promise of creating an equal society. He concludes that the state’s undermining of the right to equality amongst its citizens was the best explanation for the riots.
To best analyse contemporary constructions and representations of the white working class in relation to how they inform the creative component, the next section looks at each of the novel’s chapters and identifies where they interact with the socio-cultural context, especially the central case studies.
Part 1 – Education, Multiculturalism and Poverty
Part 1 of the novel is set in 1991 when Dean is 9 years old.
In recent years, more and more media and political concern has been raised about the low level of educational achievement by white working-class children, especially boys. Below are three typical media article headlines:
Why do white working class pupils fail in school? (Sean Coughlan for the BBC, 2014)
Exclusive: Poor white pupils need extra help with English (The Independent, 2014)
White working class boys among worst achievers (Polly Curtis for The Guardian, 2008)
The titles alone to these stories are illustrative examples of the increasing anxiety being expressed about white working-class educational failure. The continued coverage of this issue has led to the government commissioning reports at both national and local level (For examples see Department for Education, 2014; Demie, 2014). On the surface these articles and reports appear to be addressing an educational issue facing a particular group. However, a closer reading of these articles and reports show three recurrent stands, each carrying an implicit message, conscious or unconscious, that works to maintain socio-cultural hegemony amongst the white ruling elite.
Firstly, they convey the idea that white working-class children are losing out as a result of their whiteness. In other words, they are positioned as being in direct competition with minority ethnic and immigrant groups, and coming second. White working-class children are shown to be suffering as a direct result of immigration and multiculturalism, which feeds back into the conflation of ethnicity and class that constructs the white working class as thewhite group who are opposed to, and in opposition to, minority ethnic and immigrant groups. This thesis, of course, does not claim that the achievements of white working-class pupils are any more important than children’s success from other groups, rather it suggests that ‘the media’s construction of…white working class boys…as the new race victims is both factually inaccurate and socially divisive’ (Gillborn, 2009, p22). The newspapers and politicians, and those with access to channels of representation, appear to be constructing the white working class as failing due to ethnicity rather than as a result of their socio-economic status. However, as ‘official statistics reveal…most groups in poverty achieve relatively poor results regardless of ethnic background’ (Gillborn, 2009, p18, original italics). Therefore, it can be argued it is not ethnicity that predominantly determines educational achievement, but rather socio-cultural and economic status. Yet the overwhelming focus in the media and mainstream politics is that of ethnicity, rather than lack of resources.
This leads to second strand of the underlying message in the articles and reports; the construction of the white working class as being culturally inferior to their middle- and upper-class counterparts. Educational achievement is seen as the path to social mobility and status, hence the disproportionate number of independently educated members of leading public bodies and institutions. Yet, educational regimes are developed by those in power and are skewed towards individualised success through competition. They are influenced by the assumption that middle- and upper-class educational systems, and the resulting careers and lifestyles, are normal and desirable and, therefore, the position from which all achievement should be judged. As such, working-class pupils must assimilate to be able to succeed, something that their middle-class counterparts do not need to do (See Lawler, 2005; Reay, 2007; Reay, 2009; Levine-Rasky, 2013). This instantly puts them at a disadvantage because historical constructions of the working class as an uneducated other, as opposed to the educated middle and upper classes, feeds back into contemporary constructions that portray them as ‘unmotivated, unambitious and underachieving’ (Reay, 2009, p24). Thus, the construction of middle- and upper-class identities in terms of what they are not begins in school and is embedded by the time middle- and upper-class pupils become adults and take positions in leading public bodies and institutions. It is an extension of the construction of the white working class as being the cause of their own self-imposed economic and cultural poverty: white working-class children do not succeed in school because they are not hardworking enough, not because their route to success is more difficult than that of the middle and upper classes. This claim is echoed by the Conservative Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb, where he shifts blame for working-class pupils’ low academic achievement away from the educational systems to the culture and lifestyles of the communities the pupils come from: ‘It is deeply worrying that the gap between disadvantaged and better off boys just keeps growing. A culture of low expectations and a lack of rigour are holding these pupils back’ (Gibb quoted in Curtis, 2008).
The third point develops out of both strands discussed above, that of the diversion of blame away from hegemonic educational structures that favour the financially dominant white elite. This is most pronounced in the geography of inner-city education. In such a multi-ethnic city as London, and despite the anti-racist, pro-multiculturalism and diversity rhetoric of the media and political classes, the middle class still tend to group together in ‘essentially white settlements’ (Butler and Robson, 2003, p2). This geographic division is primarily an economic division, but it also becomes an ethnic divide because minority ethnic and immigrant groups are predominantly low income. This again highlights the fact that white working-class areas have absorbed immigration flows at far higher proportions that that of the white middle- and upper-class areas. State-funded universal education was one of the post-war gains that, on the whole, benefited those in poverty the most, which is why white working-class groups may perceive - justified or unjustified - minority ethnic and immigrant groups as being in competition for this scarce resource. Inner-city schools become microcosms of inner-city areas and are frequently labelled as problematic or failing by the media and the state6, resulting in them being labelled as flashpoints for ‘polarisation and blame’ (Reay, 2007, p1198). The manner in which inner-city schools are represented by those with access to channels of representation reinforce stereotypes of cultural inferiority, racial violence and extremism. As Reay suggests in 'Unruly Places': Inner-city Comprehensives, they ‘are represented within middle-class and wider social imaginaries as demonised repositories for social waste’ (Reay, 2007, p1195; also see Webster, 2008). Yet the fundamental cause of low educational achievement for all low-income groups is the socio-economic and geographic divide created and maintained by middle- and upper-class whites. Blame for low levels of educational achievement for white working-class children is pointed at ethnicity and a lack of hard work. Politicians and media commentators rarely question the impact of privately-funded independent schools or ‘the “gifted and talented”7 scheme that receives millions of pounds of extra funding and is dominated by middle class students’ (Gillborn, 2009, p18). Inner-city schools generally lack the resources necessary to provide adequate educational success. This is coupled with the fact that working-class parents do not usually have the financial ability to pay for extra tuition or the social, cultural and extra-curricular activities that middle-class parents are able to invest in for their children (Reay, 2009). As can be seen, working-class and white working-class failure in achievement is predominantly caused by socio-economic hegemony as opposed to inter-ethnic competition or lack of ability. Rather than label inner-city schools, and by association inner-city areas, as theproblem, it is the failure of political elites and the majority of the middle-class to remove the historical class prejudice that causes unequal and unjustly low levels of educational attainment for children from low-income families (Reay, 2009).
Against this divisive backdrop the focus of this section will shift to inner-city schools in low-income areas, specifically East London with regards to Hewitt’s case study. Part one of the creative component focuses on ethnic conflict in inner-city schools as well as the misinterpreted multicultural policies that are made by political elites, who, as shown above, have little experience of low-income ethnic diversity within an educational environment. Firstly, it is important to address the assumption of white privilege when the concept is applied to the white working class. Hewitt describes an interview with a youth worker discussing how academics discuss white people as having power. The youth worker responded by claiming ‘the young people I work with haven’t. They don’t see they’ve got any power at all. I don’t work with young people that have any power or their families have any power’ (Hewitt, 2005, p124). In an age of multiculturalism, privilege afforded to whites tends to be felt only by those who are less affected, i.e. the middle and upper classes. The ruling elite, who produce school policy with regards to the promotion of diversity, take white privilege for granted. As a result, whiteness becomes unimportant within the multicultural spectrum of education, which leaves some white working-class pupils, as noted by Ayak, feeling they were at a disadvantage to their non-white peers (Ayak, 2009). Hewitt elaborates on this when discussing ‘celebration of diversity’ approaches that have been adopted by many inner-city East London schools. In his research he came across many cases where white working-class children found that these celebrations of different cultures never seemed to include their own. Not surprisingly ‘white children – especially young people from working-class homes – experienced themselves as having an invisible culture, of being even cultureless’ (Hewitt, 2005, p126). This complex feeds back into the narrative of the white working class being at an ethnic disadvantage to immigrant and minority ethnic groups. This can manifest in white working-class pupils’ perception of non-white pupils as receiving preferential treatment, which in turn builds resentment towards the visible beneficiaries of the state-controlled multicultural policies. One such example, highlighted by both Ayak and Hewitt, is that of school teachers’ and governing bodies’ over-sensitive responses to racial harassment. Many white pupils have expressed concerns over what they see as teachers ignoring racially-charged name-calling from non-white pupils, yet punishing white students for using racist language, which contributes to their feelings of ‘white defensiveness’ (Ayak, 2009, p33; See also Hewitt, 2005). Given the feelings of exclusion and cultural inferiority that white working-class pupils can experience, it’s difficult to determine how true these stories are. However, what is important is that ‘amongst some white adolescents a deep sense of grievance had been engendered by youth workers and teachers disbelieving their accounts of occasions on which they had been [unfairly] treated by the education system on the basis of race’ (Hewitt, 2005, p77). Subsequently the positive influence these teachers and youth workers could have provided is lost and, therefore, white working-class children can become further disengaged from the education system and society as a whole.
Part one of the creative component was developed in response to this socio-cultural context. As a nine-year-old boy, Dean cannot see the hegemonic educational structures in place that create the backdrop for what he perceives as unequal treatment based on visible ethnic difference. For Dean, who at the start of the book is friends with both a black boy and a south Asian girl, Madu’s racially-charged name calling of Ghalia is no different to his own racially-charged name calling of Madu. The following two extracts from Another London highlight Dean’s predicament. The first is taken from a scene in the classroom when the teacher, Mrs Prosser, reprimands Madu for pulling his jumper up over his head to imitate Ghalia’s headscarf. Dean initially finds the joke fun, but his position shifts in defence of Ghalia when, firstly, he recognises Madu’s teasing is aimed at the religious and cultural symbol of the headscarf, and, secondly, when he sees the negative impact it has on Ghalia:
Madu has pulled his jumper over his head and is pretending to be a girl. It’s really funny, but Mrs Tosser shouts again.
‘Madu. Take that off immediately.’
‘What about Ghalia?’
Madu is such a dick. It’s not even funny. He doesn’t have to pick on her…It’s not her fault she has to wear the scarf. And even if she wants to wear it, she can.
Madu looks around the class but everyone is quiet with their heads down at the desks…He slowly takes his jumper down off his head…Madu throws his textbook at Ghalia.
The classroom has gone Loopy Lou…It’s well funny. I kick Ghalia.
‘Did you see that? Mrs Tosser went mental with Madu?’
Ghalia doesn’t laugh. Her smile has gone away. She’s crying. (Crewe, 2016, p20-22)
The second extract is from later the same day. In the playground, Madu recounts the earlier scene with Mrs Prosser and Ghalia, continuing to use racially-charged language to insult Ghalia. Dean, in a commitment to fairness, defends Ghalia and counter attacks using comparable language:
‘Dean loves Ghalia. Your girlfriend is a Paki bitch who wears a headscarf. She should cover her face ‘cos she’s well ugly too.’
I hate Madu. Why does he pick on Ghalia just ‘cos she’s a Paki. No one picks on him ‘cos he’s black. How would he like it if everyone calls him a stupid nigger? He’d go crazy and everyone says it’s well bad to say that, even worse that fuck off and shithead, but Madu always says Paki and bitch to Ghalia and it’s not even her fault and she’s not even a bitch. She’s nice and Madu is a stupid fucking nigger.
Everyone turns where Madu points. Ghalia is standing on her own by the main door. Madu shouts at her.
‘Ghalia. Ghalia, over here.’
Ghalia looks up and sees us…She smiles at me. Madu shouts again.
‘Dean says you’re a stupid rag head Arab Paki bitch Muslim and you smell like curry and shit.’
Ghalia stops smiling and she goes all limp…Madu pushes me and smiles at me with his stupid fucking grin. I hate him. I really fucking hate him…I run at Madu and hit him as hard as I can.
‘Stupid fucking nigger.’
I shout at him as I hit him in the head.
‘Stupid fucking nigger.’ (Crewe, 2016, p29-30)
Dean is aware that words such as ‘paki’ and ‘nigger’ are offensive, but doesn’t understand the wider cultural implications of their use. Dean’s Mum reiterates the point, claiming that too much is being read into what is essentially playground banter. However, the Deputy Headmaster’s well-intentioned, and overly sensitive, interpretation of the school’s race-relations policy results in different punishments for what Dean sees as the same offence. Regardless of the underlying motives, this constitutes a visible unfairness to whites on the part of Dean, thus placing him at the centre of the wider white working-class narrative. Not only is he positioned as a victim of ethnic diversity, his treatment has distanced him from the educational system, resulting in low educational achievement and the loss of any chance of social mobility as determined by middle- and upper-class measurements of success.
Part 2 – Inter-Ethnic Conflict and Counter-Narratives
Part 2 of the novel is set in 1993 when Dean is 11 years old.
In Part One of the creative component, Dean becomes disengaged with the education system as a result of what he perceives as unfairness to whites, ethnicity becoming the marker that separates his treatment from that of Madu’s. The inclusion, and potential misinterpretation, of race-relations policies into hegemonic educational systems, actually reinforce racial segregation. The predominantly white and privately educated political classes, who maintained geographical ethnic segregation whilst espousing multiculturalism and tolerance, had failed to recognise the threat felt by white working-class groups as a result of race-relations policy (Hewitt, 2005). This was largely because the middle and upper classes’ access to wealth was not threatened by immigration flows. As such, multiculturalist policies written and implemented by the political elite, and that were integrated into the educational systems of inner-city schools, had the unwanted effect of disengaging white working-class pupils, accentuating ethnic difference through visible competition and perceived preferential treatment of non-whites, and contributing to low levels of educational achievement, the last of which is often used as predictor for criminality (Webster, 2008).
Part Two of the creative component includes the murder of black teenager Dwayne Campbell, a fictional parallel with that of the murder of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in South East London in 1993 (For more information see Macpherson, 1999). Hewitt’s research into race-related murders in South East London, which included Stephen Lawrence’s, highlighted the fact that the ‘murders were perpetrated by adolescent males who would have gone through the local system and would have been on the receiving end of whatever form of anti-racist and multiculturalist education had been delivered in their schools’ (Hewitt, 2005, p121). In their study of ethnic conflict between working-class whites and the Bangladeshi community in Tower Hamlets, Dench et al suggested that policies which promoted community cohesion by attacking racism may actually misrepresent what is being said by the white working class and, as a result, make this group feel further isolated from mainstream opinion. Fearing a loss of political voice if they openly criticise what they see as preferential treatment of non-whites, they may turn to violence as an outlet to express their discontent (Dench et al, 2006). As such, not all incidents of racially aggravated violence can be attributed to the irrational fears and innate xenophobia of white working-class groups. Dancygier puts it most succinctly:
Violent acts do not occur in a vacuum but are embedded in specific political contexts, economic conditions, and social environments. In the case of violence targeted against ethnic minorities, criminologists, sociologists, and anthropologists have demonstrated that such attacks are part of a larger process of victimisation and proliferate when the attacks enjoy the tacit or explicit support of a wider cross-section of the “perpetrator community” whose racist resentment…is in turn a function of the local political economy (Dancygier, 2010, p49).
Racially aggravated violence can only be understood if it is viewed within the socio-cultural and economic context in which it occurs. The perception of preferential treatment of non-whites in inner-city schools can be seen as a microcosm of the wider multi-ethnic geo-political landscape. In low-income inner-city areas the white population regarded the middle classes and the political elite as favouring immigrants and minority ethnic groups, especially in terms of access to scarce public resources. The local white community’s seeming indifference to the rise of racist attacks in these areas in the 1990s can be seen as part of a wider disengagement from the socio-economic and political system of the UK (Dench et al, 2006). It should also be viewed in the light of race-relations policies that highlighted ethnic difference rather than embracing cultural similarity, as well as a multiculturalism that failed to include white British (Farrell, 1997 cited in Collins, 2004). Dancygier’s study of ‘immigrant-native’ conflict covers areas in East London, mapping racially aggravated violence with the shifting economic and political landscape. She uses Tower Hamlets as an example of an area that suffered from an escalation of violent racism during the 1980s and 90s, periods of severe economic deprivation including high unemployment, widespread poverty, and a severe housing shortage (Dancygier, 2010)8. Finding positive correlations between economic deprivation and higher incidents of racially motivated assaults, she claims that young white males living in areas suffering most from economic downturns will use racist abuse and violence to defend their ‘turf’, thus racially motivated violence is predicated on economic conditions and perceived competition from immigrants, rather than as a commitment to a xenophobic ideology (Dancygier, 2010).
Of course, this thesis does not claim that all violent racism is a function of socio-economics, but it does argue that the socio-economic context should be taken into account when trying to determine the causes of racially motivated crime. The murder of Stephen Lawrence is one such case, especially given the political fall out and the way in which it was covered in the media. Instead of a full inquiry into the underlying socio-economic motivations of racist violence in deprived multi-ethnic inner-city areas, the subsequent reports and inquiries tended to concentrate on institutional racism (of the police force), or racism (of the perpetrators) per se. Collins suggests that the anti-racist policies put in place as a result of the MacPherson report target only the white working class, essentially labelling every white working-class male adolescent as potentially violent and racist (Collins, 2004; Hewitt 2005). These policies, then, a product of the political elite, reinforce stereotypes of the white working class that feedback into the foundations of white middle- and upper-class socio-cultural dominance. It works to propagate the idea that the white working class are culturally inferior and the drivers ofracism and racist policy in Britain, whilst avoiding economic inequalities and class-based segregation. The media followed suit and reports of racism on ‘predominantly white working-class housing estates became a favourite occupation of journalists in search of saleable copy in the late 1990s, and took place against a general demonistaion of estate inhabitants and the culture of social decay’ (Hewitt, 2005, p53). The naming and shaming of ‘sink estates’ focused on predominantly white inner-city estates that had become segregated zones of urban decay inhabited by the criminal white underclass, who had freely chosen to live there and, therefore, were the drivers of self-segregation (Webster, 2008). Spatial marginalisation of the white working class was a way in which political and media elites were able to reaffirm the different levels of acceptable whiteness, clearly marking the whiteness of the low-income estates as undesirable and their own as desirable. In the aftermath of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, white East London estate residents were implicated as socially responsible for the murder because it was borne out of their own criminal and inferior culture. Added to this were accusations of racism when they voiced concern about perceived preferential treatment given to immigrant and minority ethnic groups in their local community, specifically in times of economic downturn. With mainstream media confirming accounts of endemic white working-class racism and violence, white working-class communities saw themselves under-, or mis-, represented by political and cultural institutions, feeling voiceless in an ‘ideological market place [with] a multicultural discourse that validates the very groups that appear to threaten them’ (Hewitt, 2005, p69). With political and media groups in effect silencing white working-class groups’ concerns, resentment of the lack of accurate mainstream representation built up amongst white East London estate residents, especially in response to the ‘media’s reporting of racial incidents, about equal opportunities in local government, about anti-racism and multiculturalism in schools and about police fears of being called racist’ (Hewitt, 2005, p2). These resentments were manifested in the development of counter-narratives in the white working-class communities. Below, Hewitt discusses oral counter-narratives,
A characteristic of oral counter-narratives is their being pitched against a putatively more powerful and influential pre-existing narrative or dominant discourse. The counter-narrative strives to tell a story that will capture succinctly a countervailing view. They have a very ambiguous relationship to material truth because their function is often to convey some known truth which their content merely exemplifies (Hewitt, 2005, p58, original italics).
Hewitt’s study focused on the counter-narratives that began in response to the Greenwich murders, including that of Stephen Lawrence, and the fallout from the subsequent MacPherson report. He describes one such counter-narrative where an apparent witness had seen three black boys at the scene of Stephen Lawrence’s murder. The story was not an accusation of black on black violence, but rather an indictment of the way the police had dismissed the witness’s statement. Hewitt traces the route the story took from the original witness to the interviewee (first speaker) telling Hewitt:
speaker - speaker’s friend – speaker’s friend’s mother – speaker’s friend’s mother’s husband - speaker’s friend’s mother’s husband’s mate – ‘they’ (1) (particular policeman/men) who reported on how ‘they’ (2) (the police as an institution) were treating the murder of Stephen Lawrence (Hewitt, 2005, p65).
The counter-narrative moves through a community, feeding on the resentment felt and becomes a channel through which members of the white working-class feel they can speak. As mentioned above, this does not necessarily correlate to actual truths, but more to convey an ‘understood’ or ‘known’ truth. There is no truth in the ‘three black boys’ narrative, but the ‘known’ truth is the perceived negative treatment of the white working class by public bodies and institutions. The flow of the counter-narrative through the white community works to invoke a sense of community of ‘like-minded people whose presence ratifies the truth of what the narrative asserts’ (Hewitt, 2005, pp64-65).
Part One of the novel investigates the perceived negative, or unfair, treatment of white working-class children in inner-city schools by teachers and authority figures. Part Two develops this theme and explores how this perceived unfair treatment could feed into the counter-narratives developed by the wider white working-class community, especially when confronted with media and political blame narratives that represent them as culturally degenerate, violent and racist. This process can lead to further-reaching race-relations and multicultural policies that are, in turn, perceived to favour immigrant and minority ethnic groups at the expense of the white working class, thus creating a negative cycle of political disengagement, socio-cultural and economic marginalisation, and media and political representational narratives that position the white working class as self-segregating, culturally inferior, violent and racist. This representational cycle, driven by those with access to channels of representation and political power, contributes to perceived increases in levels of competition for scarce public resources between whites and non-whites, thus fuelling higher levels of racially motivated violence and abuse in ethnically diverse inner-city areas. In Part Two, the gang from Addington’s racially motivated aggression can be seen, to some extent, as being products of these feedback loops. It’s important to note here that this thesis does not dismiss intrinsic feelings of racial hatred amongst some individuals (of all ethnicities). In fact, the leader of the gang from Addington, Philip Harris, is depicted in precisely this way. Yet, the research suggests that the reasons for higher rates of racially motivated crime amongst white working-class groups are because cycles of negative representation accentuate ethnic difference and perceived increases in levels of competition. As products, living outcomes, of the educational and representational systems dominated by the political and media elite, the gang from Addington’s propensity to commit the racially aggravated murder of Dwayne Campbell had been increased. Working alongside this is the development of counter-narratives amongst the white working-class community that, to some extent, gives the impression of tacit consent to the perpetrators. Part Two of the creative component explores the development of the ‘black perpetrators’ counter-narrative. As an eleven year old child growing up on a multi-ethnic East London estate, Dean is subject to both the hegemonic educational and representational systems, the perceived preferential treatment of non-whites, and the white working-class communities’ counter-narrative development. As a result, his memory of the attack is subjected to external factors, which have the unconscious effect of accentuating his perception of ethnic difference and, therefore, his attachment to the group in which he is told he belongs. The media and political elite’s blaming of the white working-class community as ‘social accessories’ to the murder implicates Dean and his family. Another London highlights this in the following extract:
The press flooded Eldon and Addington and the papers ran story after story…That white filth brought shame on the country…That was Eldon. That was who they were, every last one…The murder may have been committed by five local thugs, but they were all to blame (Crewe, 2016, p86).
Dean witnesses his mother getting upset in response to the press coverage, angry that she is publically associated with the gang from Addington. Dean’s unconscious reaction is to assert his, and the group he is associated with’s, innocence through the blaming of others outside his group. In this case, the white working-class community’s ‘black perpetrators’ counter-narrative provides the other group for Dean to accuse, as articulated in the extract from the creative component below:
According to Gary’s Mum, it was a gang thing, after all, that’s what happens nowadays. It was all about these drugs and turf. Her sister lived on Addington and she’d seen them scuffling on more than one occasion…And a friend of Gary’s Mum’s sister’s from another block swore she’d seen Dwayne buying whacky backy off some black teenagers. It was always the blacks who were selling, that’s what she’d heard anyway…[Georgina had] overheard her Mum talking to some of her friends and they all agreed too. The gangs were the problem. Especially the black ones. They were always stabbing each other and fighting over things. The papers never said about it, but that was the real problem in the borough. That black kid who was killed was almost certainly involved in drugs…In fact, that Dwayne boy had a criminal record for dealing, although they never mentioned that on the telly (Crewe, 2016, p87).
The counter-narratives spreading though the white communities of Eldon and Addington are a response to the blame narratives of the mainstream media that labels all white estate residents as social accessories to the murder of Dwayne Campbell. The counter-narratives that arise in the aftermath of Dwayne Cambell’s murder add veracity to Dean’s own direct experience of being the victim of Tyrone and Darren’s pseudo racially-motivated attack from which he was saved by the gang from Addington. All of which culminate in Dean’s testimony of black on black violence, a counter-narrative itself, which ultimately exonerates the gang from Addington.
Part 3 – Media Representation, Poverty and Racially-Motivated Crime
Part 3 of the novel is set in 2000 when Dean is 18 years old.
In Parts One and Two of the creative component, Dean’s experience of being ‘unfairly’ treated compared to Madu feeds into his engagement with the white working-class community’s counter-narratives of ‘unfair’ treatment of whites by those in authority. Hewitt argues that these counter-narratives can be seen as a form of expression used by groups or individuals that perceive themselves to be treated unfairly by those in power. In fact, his study of the local white community in Greenwich found that there was a general feeling of exclusion from media and politics amongst the white working class (Hewitt, 2005). The fallout from the murder of Stephen Lawrence is one such example where members of the local white working-class community expressed resentment for being portrayed as ‘social accessories’ to the murder through their production of counter-narratives, especially in response to the way in which they felt that immigrant and minority ethnic groups’ causes appeared to be supported by political and media agencies. The conflation of white working-class concerns over access to scarce public resources and that of violent racial hatred, as portrayed in the mainstream media, effectively placed the white working class into a single group whose complaints over housing and immigration policies were seen as proof of their inherent violent racism. Hewitt’s 2005 study highlights the divide between a small group of violent racists and bigots and the wider local community who voiced concern over what they perceived as preferential treatment given to immigrant and minority ethnic groups. ‘The fact that there was an overlap in what this wider circle expressed about equalities policies and what the core of racists believed did not mean that they were both the same’ (Hewitt, 2005, p55).
The way racist violence was reported in the media contributed to a large part of the resentment felt by white working-class communities. The media implicated the wider local white community in the murder of Stephen Lawrence, accusing them of complicity in racism and racist violence. However, when Richard Everitt9, a white teenager from Somers Town, central London, was murdered in August 1994 by Bangladeshi adolescents, instead of declaring the wider Bangladeshi community ‘social accessories’ and inherently racist, the media response was to portray the whole area as fragmented and plagued by violent racial intolerance, driven by white working-class animosity towards immigrants (Beider, 2011). As such the white working-class community were again implicated as partly ‘socially responsible’ for the attacks. The media’s response to both the Greenwich and Somers Town murders fed back into the white working-class perception of unfair treatment, in preference of immigrant and minority ethnic groups, by those with access to channels of representation. Mainstream media’s perceived bias in how racially aggravated incidents were reported was compounded by the rise in the number of racial incidents where the victims were white and the perpetrators were from immigrant or minority ethnic groups (Dench et al, 2006). In their study of Tower Hamlets, Dench et al show how young Bangladeshi adolescents formed gangs in response to white violence, and, as their community numbers grew, took control of the streets, including the drugs trade, as well as the thefts and robberies that supported it (Dench et al, 2006). However, ‘the fact that forming gangs clearly had a part to play in protecting the wider Bangladeshi community gave them a legitimacy which they might not have had in different circumstances’ (Dench et al, 2006, p61). To some extent, the anti-racism policies that were implemented after the Macpherson report did not take this into account and fed into the prevailing depiction of the white working class as the drivers of racism in England. Phil Woolas, the MP for Oldham East in 2003, ‘warned that politicians from all parties were failing to openly condemn violent racist attacks against whites as forcibly as those against blacks or Asians’ (Collins, 2004, p247). His views were echoed by similar reports at the time, for example this quotation from Yasmin Alibhai-Brown discussing Black and Asian perpetrators of racism: ‘Our entire struggle against racism, its moral and ethical foundation, stands to be discredited because we are not paying enough attention to white victims of black and Asian hatred’ (Alibhai-Brown, 2003). Both mainstream political and media elites are ignoring, or actively promoting, misrepresentation of the white working class, and, as a result, use these portrayals as justification for not addressing the legitimate concerns of the white working class with regards to access to scarce public resources.
Continuous negative media portrayals of the white working class provide legitimacy to the political elites’ implementation of race-relations policies and their ethnically-charged stereotyping of the white working class as a self-segregating, culturally inferior group, and theproponents of racism in England. These representations of the white working class have been used to justify austerity measures, cuts to services and benefits that disproportionally affect those in poverty (McKenzie, 2015). Thus, maintaining low levels of social mobility and potential access to political power and channels of representation. The socio-economic divide is maintained and the white middle and upper classes retain political and financial hegemony. McKendrick et al’s study of media representation of poverty concluded that reports about the poor were, on the whole, negative, where ‘notions of individual responsibility and connections between poverty and anti-social behaviour are never far from the centre of debate’ (McKendrick et al, 2008, p41). Thus, impacting on the general public’s attitude towards low-income groups and anti-poverty legislation. Even more telling is the way in which the mainstream media report poverty:
Although one-half of reports mentioning poverty in the UK are accompanied by an image (51 per cent), in three-quarters of these reports the image that accompanies the report is not an image of poverty (74 per cent). It is more likely that it will be a headshot of an authoritative expert voice such as a politician or a journalist. Images of poverty are evident in only 13 per cent of poverty reports in the UK (McKendrick et al, 2008, p21).
As can be seen, low-income groups are not representing themselves. Their image is being created and disseminated by the vast majority of media and political elites, and, as demonstrated by the McKendrick study, this image is overwhelmingly negative. In recent years, this can be epitomised by the portrayal of the ‘chav’ whose identity is constructed around aggression, excessive drug and alcohol consumption, obesity and unhealthy lifestyle choices, as well as racism (Adams and Raisborough, 2011). It is clear evidence that those with access to channels of representation, the white middle and upper classes, are using their access to power to define who they are by marginalising who they are not. The white working class become objects of disgust and are targeted as the causes of Britain’s ills, including racial intolerance and the socio-economic crisis resulting from the 2007-08 financial crisis (McKenzie, 2015). Misrepresentations of the white working class are not a new phenomenon and were identified in 2001 as a major issue by the then Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality, Gurbux Singh; ‘Tackling the perceptions and poverty levels of poor white communities is almost as important as tackling ethnic deprivation’ (Singh, 2001 cited in Collins, 2004, p248). Yet still, feedback loops of negative portrayals of the white working class permeate the public sphere. A sphere that is created and maintained by those with access to channels of representation, one that is increasingly difficult for low-income groups to influence or change.
These homogenised representations of the white working class are a major contributor to the socio-cultural, economic and political marginalisation of this group. This feeds back into the ‘unfair treatment by national and local authorities’ counter-narratives, thus confirming the ‘known’ truths of the white working class and enforcing a continuing cycle of political segregation. A group who feel they are losing out financially, and whose concerns are ignored or derided by mainstream media and politicians, are likely to view the political system as having failed them and therefore unrepresentative and undemocratic, working against their interests rather than for them, leading them to disengage with the political process or to seek alternatives (Ford and Goodwin, 2014; Gottfried, 2014). This separation from mainstream politics can have negative knock-on effects for both the white working class and society as a whole in terms of community cohesion. In 2014, the Institute for Public Policy Research published a report based on their analysis of the UK Government’s 2010 spending review. They concluded that non-voters in the general election faced cuts to their household income that equated to roughly 8 per cent more than those who did vote, with the young and the poor most affected. It suggests that policymakers will consider non-voting blocs’ interests less, thus leading to further disengagement with the mainstream political process (IPPR, 2014). Social housing is commonly cited by members of the white working class as an issue where they perceive themselves as losing out to immigrant and minority ethnic groups, and in which their concerns are ignored by local and national mainstream politicians. As discussed earlier in the chapter, one reason for this can be attributed to the geographic segregation of the white middle and upper classes from the majority of immigrant and minority ethnic groups. In addition, the political elites who make decisions about social housing allocation tend to be pooled from the independently educated members of society, who are not directly affected by immigration in the same way as the white working class (Dench et al, 2006; Ford and Goodwin, 2014). Another underlying cause appears to be the desire by mainstream political parties to win the minority ethnic vote. Labour’s policies in the 2000s included freer immigration, tougher anti-discrimination laws and the fielding of more minority ethnic political candidates (Ford and Goodwin, 2014). In his study of Somers Town, Beider notes that the white working-class community felt their needs were not being addressed by the increasing number of minority ethnic political representatives, believing them to be favouring minority interests, especially in social housing allocation policy (Beider, 2011). A major contributor to this counter-narrative was the shift in policy for social housing allocation that occurred during the 1980s. Before the change in policy, local or family connections were prioritised, whereas priority is currently given on a needs-based points system (Garner, 2009). Dancygier’s study of Tower Hamlets demonstrates that this change in policy benefitted the Bangladeshi residents more than the white population (Dancygier, 2010). What is more significant is the connection she draws between the minority ethnic voting bloc, local authorities and social housing policy changes. As the Tower Hamlets Bangladeshi population became aware of its political power in terms of voter mobilisation, local mainstream parties could not afford to alienate them or assume their support. She goes on to claim that Labour councillors relying on the Bangladeshi vote ‘implemented allocation procedures that would benefit immigrant households in the provision of economic resources, specifically public housing’ (Dancygier, 2010, p157). When an immigrant or minority ethnic group secure political power in areas of socio-economic deprivation, they are more likely to feel resentment towards them amongst the local white working-class population, which can manifest through racist violence or far-right party success (Dancygier, 2010). The xenophobic British National Party (BNP) uses the issue of social housing to exploit tensions within local communities and to feed off ‘unfairness to whites’ counter-narratives (Garner, 2009; Grillo, 2010). Far-right party success is rooted in the white working-class perception that the mainstream political elite are ignoring their concerns and failing to represent them equally. Parties such as the BNP exploit these feelings of exclusion by promising to voice white concerns in the public sphere (Hewitt, 2005). Each success of a far-right party candidate draws condemnation from the media and political elite who blame white working-class racism as the sole cause10. Thus, feeding back into the negative cycle of white working-class marginalisation. Dancygier’s study highlights a damning conclusion for community cohesion as a result of these processes;
As BNP performance improves (measured in terms of the number of votes and the vote share received), the recorded racist incident rate rises as well. Synthesizing this information, we can conclude that there is indeed a positive association between the presence and success of the xenophobic British National Party and the rate of racist incidents at the local level (Dancygier, 2010, p113).
Part Three of the creative component draws on the development of white working-class counter-narratives, particularly in relation to how white working-class communities are portrayed by media and political elites, as well as ‘unfairness to whites’ narratives with regard to social housing allocation. In the extract below, Dean listens to Georgina’s Mum, a key figure in local gossip, articulate the feelings of the white community in relation to mass immigration and the effect on local social housing allocation:
‘They shove them all here. Sweep them under the carpet and let us deal with them. But we’re the ones who suffer, not those bastards in the Government. They just let us get on with it. Ruining our neighbourhoods and then blaming us like we’re the reason all the foreigners came here in the first place. And when we get angry and do something about it they tell us we’re in the wrong and they’re in the right and we all have to live side by side and like it or lump it. And we’re not even allowed to complain when a family with a new born baby are told they have to live with their parents because all the houses have been given to coloured people who’ve just got off the boat. It’s just not bloody fair’ (Crewe, 2016, p131).
Dean connects the impact of the processes Georgina’s Mum describes with that of his own situation, especially the effect it has on Georgina:
This house thing has knocked the last of it out of her. I guess she’s losing everything. No college, no hanging out with her mates and getting pissed, living with my Mum and now she’s told that Pakis are more important. She must feel worthless…I don’t even care about Pakis, but Georgina’s Mum’s right. What about us? (Crewe, 2016, p130).
As an exemplar of a white working-class subject living on a multi-ethnic inner-city estate, Dean highlights the way in which counter-narrative production is a direct, and indirect, result of political and media elites’ perceived negative construction, and marginalisation, of the white working class. He disengages with a political structure that he sees as inaccessible and exclusory, and, as a result, his discontent is open to exploitation by far-right political parties. The counter-narratives put forward by Georgina’s Mum are exploited by far-right parties and conflated with their own rhetoric. For Dean, directly experiencing the impact of social housing shortages, this leads to anger and resentment, as highlighted in the extract below:
The Pakis get everything done for them and we’re left behind. It makes me mad…I’ve lived here all my life. So’s Georgina. Why do we have less rights than foreigners in our own country?...I imagine the Pakis moving into our flat…I bet they don’t even speak a word of English and they’ll get given so many benefits that they won’t even need to get a job. They’ll sponge off hardworking people like my Mum who’s had to work every bloody day of her life.
I’m ready for a war. I’m ready to take back what’s mine. What’s ours. I drag my trackie sleeve over my face to soak up all the flob…No one will know I’ve been crying, but they’ll know I’m fucking angry (Crewe, 2016, p131-133).
Part Three highlights the combination of multiple factors that lead Dean to work for the gang from Addington - the difference in media and political attention given to the murder of Gareth Etherington in comparison to Dwaye Campbell, the shortage of social housing and the perceived preference given to non-white families, the exploitation of the resulting counter-narratives by far-right parties – all of which positively correlate with escalations in racial tension and violence. In Another London, this comes to its climax when Dean agrees to stab a rival black dealer only to find it’s Madu. Dean tries to warn him of the impending attack, but Madu dismisses Dean’s intentions and in doing so exposes the underlying structures that create difference between ethnic groups:
‘What the fuck do you care?’… ‘Everyone knows you sell for those cunts.’…‘You know what they think about people like me. And Pakis and chinks.’…‘I’m just another nigger to you.’
‘You’re my friend.’
‘Get out of here, Madu. Go.’
He snaps and pushes his chest out at me.
‘Where the fuck am I going to go?’
I stare at him. I stare right into his blood red eyes…Madu’s right. Where can we go? I can’t do nothing. I can’t change nothing. Neither of us can. We’re fucked. We were born fucked (Crewe, 2016, p146-148).
This confrontation is a key moment in Dean’s development. He starts to acknowledge that those living in poverty, regardless of ethnicity, share far more similarities than differences, especially in terms of barriers to social mobility and life chances. Dean is not racist and does not share Phillip Harris’s xenophobic ideology, yet the representations of the white working class provided by media and political elites, combined with the counter-narratives that they stimulate, leads Dean to be caught up in far-right party rhetoric to the point that he would have perpetrated a potential, although partly financially-motivated, hate crime.
Part 4 – Homogenisation and Division: Muslims and the White Working Class
Part 4 of the novel is set in 2005 when Dean is 23 years old.
Since the terrorist attacks in New York on 11th September 2001, British Muslims have come under scrutiny, especially from the right-wing media who have continuously accused them of ‘fostering extremist intolerance and [being] more loyal to Muslims abroad than their compatriots in Britain’ (Ford, 2010, p152). This blame narrative, instituted by those of the right-wing political and media elite, was given more mainstream credence as a result of the 7th July 2005 terrorist attacks in London. Just one week after the attacks, journalist Melanie Phillips wrote:
Muslims have been presented not as the community which must take responsibility for this horror, but as the principal victims. This moral inversion is the result of the cultural brainwashing that has been going on in Britain for years in the pursuit of the disastrous doctrine of multiculturalism. This has refused to teach Muslims – along with other minorities – the core of British culture and values. Instead, it has promoted a lethally divisive culture of separateness, in which minority cultures are held to be equal if not superior to the values and traditions of the indigenous majority (Melanie Phillips for the Daily Mail, 2005).
The blame narrative is articulated in two ways. Firstly, it homogenises Muslims into one single group, thus implicating all Muslims as ‘socially responsible’ for the terrorist attacks. A parallel can be drawn with the white working-class communities who were implicated as ‘socially responsible’ in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence murder. Secondly, Phillips, in her negative analysis of multiculturalism, implies that minority cultures should not be held equal to that of the white majority. Implicit is the accusation of a socio-cultural deficit, violence in the form of terrorism, and self-imposed segregation from, what she calls, core British values. Again, there is a clear parallel in the way the white working class are represented and presented by media and political elites. Phillips’ article can be seen as a mainstream articulation of existing representations of immigrant and minority ethnic groups, in particular Muslims. In 2001, Dutch columnist Paul Cliteur suggested that ‘it is nonsensical to state that all cultures are equal since some cultures are evil, some cultures suppress women and some cultures excessively punish misdemeanours’ (Vertovec and Wessendorf, 2010, p10). In Britain, assertions such as these can be seen feeding back into far-right political parties. Nick Griffin, then leader of the British National Party, stated in his party’s European Election Broadcast 2004:
You can have Muslim fundamentalism or democracy. You can have Muslim fundamentalism or women’s rights. You can have Muslim fundamentalism or peace. But you can’t have both (Griffin, 2004 cited in Eatwell and Goodwin, 2010, p10, original italics).
Griffin is clearly conflating Islam as a religion and Islam as violent political extremism. The BNP’s portrayal of Muslims, similar to that of Cliteur and Phillips’, is of a violent, culturally backwards group, who reject core British values of democracy and equality. The increased marginalisation of British Muslims can be traced through the feedback loops detailed above, a Dutch columnist, a far-right party spokesperson, a right of centre mainstream journalist, and onto the then British Prime Minister, David Cameron, whose 2011 speech on radicalisation and Islamic extremism echoes the sentiments expressed by the above, giving credence and mainstream approval to these blame narratives.
When…unacceptable views or practices come from someone who isn’t white, we’ve been too cautious frankly - frankly, even fearful - to stand up to them. The failure, for instance, of some to confront the horrors of forced marriage, the practice where some young girls are bullied and sometimes taken abroad to marry someone when they don’t want to, is a case in point. This hands-off tolerance has only served to reinforce the sense that not enough is shared. And this all leaves some young Muslims feeling rootless. And the search for something to belong to and something to believe in can lead them to this extremist ideology. Now for sure, they don’t turn into terrorists overnight, but what we see - and what we see in so many European countries - is a process of radicalisation.
We should properly judge these [Muslim] organisations: do they believe in universal human rights - including for women and people of other faiths? Do they believe in equality of all before the law? Do they believe in democracy and the right of people to elect their own government? Do they encourage integration or separation? These are the sorts of questions we need to ask. Fail these tests and the presumption should be not to engage with organisations (Cameron, 2011).
The marginalisation of Muslims over the ten-year period described above highlights the way in which feedback loops of representations can filter through a society when propagated by the media and politicians. David Cameron’s speech, highly reminiscent of Nick Griffin’s seven years earlier, continues the blame narrative by making it clear that those groups who do not share his vision of core British values are, by association, the causes and perpetrators of radicalisation and terrorism. The ethnicity and assumed cultural backwardness of Muslims is being used as a tool to marginalise them as a homogenised group, blaming them for Islamic terrorism rather than attempting an analysis of the wider socio-economic hegemonic structures in Britain. As such, a parallel can be drawn between the processes by which the white working class are marginalised to uphold structures of white middle- and upper-class socio-economic dominance, and that of how young British Muslims are being radicalised as a result of socio-economic exclusion (Sobolewska, 2010).
The media and political response to the London terrorist attacks had negative impacts on the lives of British Muslims, who felt that misrepresentation by media and political elites resulted in their being put more in danger of verbal and physical assaults (Threadgold, 2009; Eatwell and Goodwin, 2010). The Terrorism Act 2006, brought in by the Labour Government, built on the previous Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 and the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005. As McGhee highlights, the provisions of these acts are ‘so vague yet so clearly targeted at Muslim communities’ (McGhee, 2008, p43) that they don’t only target the Muslims suspected of terrorist activities or incitement of hatred, but also have ‘the potential for being extended to include all members of Muslim communities in Britain’ (McGhee, 2008, pp29-30). McGhee cites a report by Alvaro Gil-Robles, then Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, which was written on his visit to the United Kingdom. It claims that the implementation of the 2001 and 2005 anti-terrorism acts has produced negative perceptions of Muslims in the rest of the UK population, as well as disengagement from mainstream politics by the Muslim population (McGhee, 2008). The Terrorism Act 2006, as well as subsequent anti-terrorism litigation, has compounded this even further, seemingly legitimising fear of Muslim communities. The BNP’s portrayal of Muslims as ‘alien and backward’ feeds off the anti-terrorism policy and bolsters far-right party support amongst voters who want more action taken ‘against Muslims “who want to destroy this country”’ (Eatwell and Goodwin, 2010, p6). Feedback loops of negative representations of Muslims are disseminated by those with access to channels of representation, which in turn affects government policy, by which fears are legitimised and Muslim communities are socio-economically excluded11. The resultant disengagement from the hegemonic political systems can damage community cohesion and contribute to radicalisation, especially in low-income, multi-ethnic, inner-city areas. Parekh suggests that when media and political elites talk about extremists they make ‘no attempt to understand the agents and the wider context of their actions, and all too easily dismiss them as inhuman monsters’ (Parekh, 2002, p271). Instead there is a preference to dismiss agency and use binary representations of good and evil to discuss Islamic terrorists. Yet, as shown above, Islamic extremism is conflated with the Muslim community as a whole, marking all Muslims as potential terrorists. Thus feeding back into far-right party rhetoric, providing extra support for the socio-political grievances of the white working-class communities they purport to represent (Sobolewska, 2010). As discussed above, the success of far-right parties tends to correlate with an upsurge in racially motivated attacks on non-whites, which can be read as an indirect result of media and political representation of Muslims. An increase of racially motivated crime perpetrated by whites against immigrant and minority ethnic groups results in negative feedback loops of media and political portrayals. This works to homogenise the white working-class community, labelling it as ‘socially responsible’ for racist violence.
The marginalisation of Muslims by media and political elites works in a similar way to that of the white working class. In both cases they are portrayed as being self-segregating, culturally deficient and violent, in terms of racist or terrorist activities. In both cases the dissemination of homogenised representations by those with access to channels of representation are used to justify government policy, such as spending cuts that disproportionately affect low-income groups, or anti-terrorist legislation that restricts civil liberties. Fundamentally, however, the marginalisation of both the white working class and Muslims by those with access to channels of representation is to divert attention away from the fact that the poorest twenty percent of the population, regardless of ethnicity, are becoming ‘increasingly separated from the more prosperous majority by inequalities of income, housing and education’ (Gavron, 2009, p2).
In Part Four of the creative component, both Dean and Ghalia utilise media and political blame narratives to accuse each other of the problems faced by their respective communities. The Islamic terrorist attacks portrayed in the novel result in a rise in support for the fictional far-right British Front Party (BFP) on both the Eldon and Addington estates. The gang from Addington, feeding off far-right party rhetoric and negative portrayals of Muslims, vilify the Muslim community on the estates, all against the backdrop of ‘unfairness to whites’ counter-narratives. Ghalia blames Dean for his tacit acceptance of the negative treatment of Muslims, using the ‘chav as the driverof racism in England’ narrative, as shown in the extract below:
‘You used to sell drugs for the same people who threw shit at my family. You’re one of them, you know. You’re all the bloody same.’…‘You told me you loved me, Dean. Why the fuck didn’t you say anything? You’re just like the rest of them.’…‘All the other white chav scum’ (Crewe, 2016, p178).
She continues to attack Dean’s, and by association the white working-class community’s, ignorance, accusing them both directly and indirectly of being the drivers of racism in Britain. Ghalia’s reiteration of the blame narratives that posit the white working class as the causes of racism and segregation feed into pre-existing counter-narratives, reinforcing the ‘us’ and ‘them’ dichotomy of media and political elite’s representations of both the white working class and Muslim communities. As such, Dean’s response works in defence of these accusations, identifying Ghalia as belonging to a homogenised Muslim group:
It makes me mad that she says we’re all to blame. Me and Georgina and my family never done anything to hurt her. None of the old bids either. What right does she have to criticise us in our own fucking country?...She’s not Ghalia anymore. She’s one of them (Crewe, 2016, p179).
Dean blames immigrants and minority ethnic groups for taking all the social housing and accuses all Muslims of being potential terrorists. They both allow the individual to be absorbed into their perceived group, each homogenising the other through blame narratives. Ghalia’s parting sentence and Dean’s response demonstrates the way in which this process can end in division:
She spits on the ground…
‘You Dean, are just a racist, scrounging, piece of shit, scum.’
She blames me for everything. I am her enemy…But I don’t care. I don’t feel anything. I don’t feel anything at all (Crewe, 2016, p181).
Dean and Ghalia become representative of how inner-city estate residents use blame narratives, created by media and political elites, to accuse other’s perceived group of causing their grievances. Yet Hewitt, in his study of Greenwich, claims that what he actually found was ‘difference’ created by local authority policy and media representations. It was a construction that set communities against one another, essentially ‘’racialised’ through an act of conceptual engineering’ (Hewitt, 2005, p99).