One of the Daily Mail’s main stories today concerns a new study which examines what they call “the lifestyle of a typical Middle Briton.” This study looked at a number of different factors to produce a picture of a typical middle class household. The Daily Mail’s take on it was interesting, as it headlined the piece:
How Sikhs and Hindus became the bedrock of middle Britain
The actual article spends very little time on this, but it is telling that the Daily Mail chose such a headline, which suggests a clear ‘endorsement’ of Sikhs and Hindus, and recognition that you can be British without being white. This should be all the more welcome coming only months after the same paper said that second and third generation British Asians couldn’t be considered British.
There are a few problems here though. The main one is that such an approach once again resorts to stereotyping. Not in a negative way with regards Hindus and Sikhs, but in a way that lumps them all into one group: both religions contain masses of very different individuals, from professors to convicts, so to suggest they form a monolithic group is wrong.
This idea feeds into the notion of the ‘model minority’, which is difficult to tackle because it is viewed in a positive way. Often applied to Sikhs (amongst others), the notion of a ‘model minority’ suggests a well-integrated, hard-working ethnic/religious group whom few have a bad word to say about it. For many first generation immigrants who experienced severe racism in the 1960s and 1970s, being in such a group is seen as a great advantage, and understandably so.
The problem with this though is twofold: Firstly it encourages members of that group and those dealing with this group to view them as a single monolithic block, which discourages individualism and perpetuates the old colonial mentality of ethnic groups being apart from mainstream society. Secondly it leads to competition between different minority groups, who use the praise given to them as a ‘model minority’ as a way of showing that their ‘community’ is superior to other ones. In this case, that would mean the Muslims. Some white people will make the same comparisons, leading to bigotry against groups seen to not be model minorities, rather than treating people in those groups as individuals.
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Filed in: EDL,Hindu,Muslim,Sikh