Is the Northern English city of York racist? A "report" says it is

As Paul says in Titus 1:15:  

"Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled."

The condemnation of York is readily understood as the product of defiled minds  -- minds that WANT to find racism under every bed

A small historical  note:  The report says:

"there were high status and wealthy people in York from all over the Roman Empire, including North Africa"

That happens to be true.  But note that both in ancient times and to this day, the indigenous North African population is WHITE.  The Roman empire did not extend into Sub-Saharan Africa, the home of blacks

Families are spread out on the grass beneath one of our greatest cathedrals. In the meandering lanes and alleyways hereabouts, crowds drift happily past handsome shop fronts selling everything from expensive watches to fudge.

The Sunday market is teeming, the adjacent food market is packed and there is plenty of boat traffic on the grand old River Ouse.

Farther out from the city centre, it's like a Sunday afternoon in suburbs all over the country. Some people are mowing the lawn. Some are in the pub following the fortunes of English cricket up the road at Headingley.

It is hard to acknowledge that behind this veneer of balmy weekend contentment in the capital of 'God's own country', I am looking at a city mired in bigotry and xenophobia.

That, however, is the conclusion of a hefty report by something calling itself Inclusive Equal Rights UK (IERUK), which has just come to a pretty damning conclusion: 'Racism in York is casual, systemic, and structural.'

Citing multiple disparities in everything from education to employment and policing, with anecdotal evidence, this alarming document, funded by the Labour-run city council, paints a picture of a place closer to Alabama circa 1955 than 21st-century Yorkshire.

The council clearly agrees, since it has just given the authors £25,000 to pursue their findings as part of a five-year strategy to make York an 'Anti-Racist City'.

The evidence, we are told, is beyond reproach. 'The five-year anti-racism strategy, actions and recommendations are entirely based on data and research collected, collated and analysed,' says IERUK, which claims to have undertaken a 'deep dive' into all official statistics before drawing its very grave conclusions. 'The evidence clearly shows the imbalances, injustice, and violence towards many minority communities in the city.

'It is now time to acknowledge that systemic racism and prejudice are prevalent in the City of York.'

But before we invite the commissars to erect the 'cancel' signs around this ancient city of Romans, Vikings, medieval architecture, Quakers, chocolate, railways and horse-racing, it seems only proper to take a closer look.

And two things stand out right away. First, this is not a York which chimes with any of the people whom I have been talking to this weekend (including members of these allegedly persecuted minorities).

Second, you need only undertake your own 'deep dive' to see that this data is extremely selective and in, some cases, even flawed.

Nor, despite its grand name, is IERUK any sort of national organisation. It is a York-based grass roots campaign focused exclusively on local minorities and is not comprehensive. Its website acknowledges it has yet to recruit anyone from either the Jewish or Chinese communities.

And there are plenty of people here who think its conclusions, however well-intentioned, are plain wrong.

'People are nice round here. It's a happy place — no racism. I'd say 99 per cent are good people,' says Zahaad Latif, 25, who has been helping out on the family's gift and electricals stall here in the market for the past 15 years.

His family moved to Yorkshire from Pakistan and have had no regrets. 'You sometimes hear bad things about what goes on in London, but that's why people move up here.'

Stallholder Angie Gannon, who sells pretty, handmade cards, has been trading here for more than 30 years. She hadn't heard about the report until I mention it. She looks it up online and is appalled.

'This is all wrong. This is a cosmopolitan city — a vibrant city with lots of foreign students, too, but it's not racist,' she says firmly, pointing up the road in the direction of York Minster.

Was that not the former seat of the Church of England's first black archbishop, John Sentamu? He served as Archbishop of York from 2005 to 2020. 'We all loved him round here,' says Angie.

She would much rather the council spent the £25,000 on more communal seating in the city centre and restoring the fountain which used to stand near her stall.

Yana Gausden, originally from Thailand, has plenty of customers at her NaNa Noodles bar, but pauses to chat. Has she ever been a victim of racism — casual, structural, systemic or otherwise?

'No!' she says firmly. 'People are not racist here.'

Time and again, people tell me that York may not be perfect — because nowhere is — but it is generally a cohesive, happy place, no different from most other places......

Perhaps the most intriguing claim in the report is that this was once a predominantly black city. 'York has had a minority ethnic population since Roman times,' it states. 'For instance, black slaves were buried in the city in around 200 AD, while other remains suggest there were high status and wealthy people in York from all over the Roman Empire, including North Africa.

'It has been suggested by one historian that at around that time, the population of York, largely a military garrison town, was predominantly black.' Sadly, the academic source notes do not offer any further guidance on this.

What is also striking is an apparent official reluctance to question or even discuss any of this.

When contacted yesterday, neither the Labour MP for York Central, the Tory MP for Outer York, nor York City Council were available for comment.

If it is only the ordinary voters of York who are happy to offer a response, so be it. And I fail to find a single one who concurs.

'That's not the city I grew up in,' says Johnny Shaw, 27, who is running a stall selling candles made in York. 'It's always been an inclusive place, like most places — or so I've always thought.'


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