Brown, black or … coloured?

by Al-Hack, on 4th October, 2005

Trevor Phillips doesn’t stop making headlines does he? At this rate he’ll be more recognised than the prime minister soon. At the Conservative party conference today he said: “Is it really offensive to call someone ‘coloured’?” You mean apart from the fact that it sounds so colonial? He added:

Globalisation means that the rules of multi-ethnic Britain are under constant challenge as we encounter new cultures and our own culture changes. We need a modern highway code for multi-ethnic Britain, our unwritten handbook for getting on with each other.
Jeez! Are race relations so touchy these days that people need some sort of a code? Would it work? And would you like to be called coloured? I think Asian or brown suits me just fine. What about you?

Entry Filed under: Current affairs

63 Comments Add your own

  • 1. leon  |  October 4th, 2005 at 2:50 pm

    You can read the full speech here: link

  • 2. leon  |  October 4th, 2005 at 2:51 pm

    Or here even:

  • 3. krazie  |  October 4th, 2005 at 3:40 pm

    Here we go again.

    If the Race Chief is getting lead story for the The Daily Mail, he must be doing something wrong.

  • 4. leon  |  October 4th, 2005 at 3:43 pm

    It is getting harder and harder to understand just what TP is on! He seems to contradict himself every few months for the sake of some eye catching headlines…

  • 5. Sunny  |  October 4th, 2005 at 3:57 pm

    I agree! I don’t see the point of all these headlines and constant talk about abstract notions.

    He says something, people use what he says for their own agenda - and then we go back to square one. What’s the point?

  • 6. krazie  |  October 4th, 2005 at 4:07 pm

    Extract from Trevors speech

    “Jews took more than a century to get here in numbers; East African Asians took days. Both groups are prosperous and integrated.”

    Prosporous, yes. Integrated, certainly not.

  • 7. Al-Hack  |  October 4th, 2005 at 4:50 pm

    He seems to use speeches to make up for the lack of any real power.

  • 8. rizwand  |  October 4th, 2005 at 5:10 pm

    mmm, Mr Philips seems to be taking the podium for the sake of … umm, taking the podium. Dude, save your energy for when you have got something useful to say!

  • 9. Sunny  |  October 4th, 2005 at 5:50 pm

    I just received this now…. the GLA isn’t too happy with TP either!

    Commenting on the speech by Trevor Phillips, the Chair of the Commission for Racial Equality, entitled ‘we need a highway code for the multi-ethnic society’, the Mayor of London’s Director of Equalities and Policing, Lee Jasper, said today:

    ‘Trevor Phillips has got his facts wrong. The census analysts at the Greater London Authority, and leading researchers nationally, have found that London and the rest of Britain are becoming less, not more, segregated. Any chair of the Commission for Racial Equality who does not know whether councils should print documents in several languages, or holy days like Yom Kippur should be respected, or whether ‘coloured’ is an appropriate term, should seriously consider whether he is in the right job.’


  • 10. Chris  |  October 5th, 2005 at 10:51 am

    I wouldn’t listen to the GLA on anything myself…

    Jews are clearly integrated, despite worrying rise in anti-semitism.

    Phillips certainly doesn’t help himself by espousing views 180 degrees away from the kinds of things he was spouting a few years ago, but that in itself doesn’t make his current views wrong.
    Nor (in this case) does publicity in the Daily Mail in itself make his views wrong…

    Does anyone disagree that learning English benefits both the individual and the country??

  • 11. Leslie  |  October 5th, 2005 at 10:53 am

    Interesting speech by Trevor. I do take some exception from Trevor talks of Jews being properous because how is he measuring that?

    Sure there may be some who have done well, but plenty have not.

    And when it comes to the current situation of Jewish arts and culture, the community is very deprived.

    More over here on reaction to Trevor’s speech:



  • 12. leon  |  October 5th, 2005 at 12:49 pm

    Jews are clearly integrated? You’re kidding right!? How many socialise outside their community? How many are allowed to date/marry outside their community?

  • 13. krazie  |  October 5th, 2005 at 1:55 pm

    Come to North London if you think Jews are integrated.

  • 14. Chris  |  October 5th, 2005 at 2:36 pm

    I think you have a very odd idea of segregation, or mix in very different circles.
    I am not Jewish, was born and brought up in North London (Highgate) - many Jewish friends at school and subsequently. Not that there was any recognition of this “difference” at all - on either side.
    The (current) leader of the Conservative party is Jewish.
    Disraeli was the UK’s first (so far only) Jewish PM nearly 150 years ago.
    There are Jews successfully integrated at every level in every area of society - business, public sector, arts…

  • 15. krazie  |  October 5th, 2005 at 3:02 pm

    Let me clarify. Phillips said “Jews took more than a century to get here in numbers; East African Asians took days. Both groups are prosperous and integrated.” My argument is that they are not integrated in the context of “multi-culturalism” whereby those communities live alongside other communities.

    Yes they have integrated and contributed in the UK economy and other institutions that have a key stake in British society. But anyone who has been to North London will accept that majority of Jews (Golders Green, Hendon, Stamford Hill) and East Africans( Sudbury Hill, Harrow) live in closed enclaves.

  • 16. leon  |  October 5th, 2005 at 3:05 pm

    “There are Jews successfully integrated at every level in every area of society - business, public sector, arts…”

    Integration means more than achieving wealth or positions of power…

  • 17. krazie  |  October 5th, 2005 at 3:11 pm

    Maybe if Afro-Caribbeans, Pakistanis or Bangladeshis had economic power, the powers that be would leave alone.

    Damn. Its all about the Benjamins!

  • 18. Jai Singh  |  October 5th, 2005 at 3:11 pm

    He contradicts himself within his speech when he initially refers to his Guyanan ancestry and then, later on, repeatedly uses the term “we” with regards to “We created the British Empire”, “our history”, “our nature” and so on.

    Identity-crisis, I wonder ?

  • 19. leon  |  October 5th, 2005 at 3:21 pm

    “Identity-crisis, I wonder ?”

    Either that or he’s struggling with what he actually feels and what he thinks he has to say to the Tory audience that sat before him…

  • 20. Uncleji sweet as chocolate  |  October 5th, 2005 at 4:28 pm

    Why Coloured I think Darkie or Gollywog would suit me just fine Mr Philips.
    I do like People of Color or maybe Chocolate People with sub divisions into milk and dark and soft centred. It would be pretty clear who would be the Bounty bar……

  • 21. Chris  |  October 5th, 2005 at 4:30 pm

    Integrated at every level I said - not just top level - though getting to the top must imply some degree of successful integration surely?
    Perhaps your perspective reflects your own parochiality??
    “Anyone who has been to North London will accept…” : sorry, but I lived for 35 years in North London and don’t accept / recognise your characterisation!

  • 22. Chris  |  October 5th, 2005 at 4:31 pm

    PS - what are “the Benjamins”?

  • 23. Bopper  |  October 5th, 2005 at 4:33 pm

    I think the problem with the phrase ‘coloured’, or ‘ethnic’ for that matter is that it doesn’t really mean anything. everyone has an ethnic background, everyone has a colour. If the answer happens to be Caucasian or white/pink it doesn’t make it any less true. So is Trevor arguing to use a phrase with no real meaning? sadly that’s one of the most sensible things I’ve heard him say recently.

  • 24. Uncleji and the primrose league  |  October 5th, 2005 at 4:40 pm

    Disraeli strictly speaking wasn’t jewish he was baptismed into the C of E.

    “And when it comes to the current situation of Jewish arts and culture, the community is very deprived.”

    Deprived Deprived ! You should try hanging out with the punjabi unclejis arts is a four letter word in our house and for culture thats bharaga innit !

  • 25. Sunny  |  October 5th, 2005 at 4:52 pm

    Chris - the richest man in the UK is Indian. The CEOs of two of the biggest telecoms companies in the UK and Europe (Vodafone, Orange) are also Indian. The head of the London Chambers of Commerce is also Indian (Gulam Noon).

    So I take it then we’re integrated?

  • 26. Sunny  |  October 5th, 2005 at 4:53 pm

    Lol at Uncleji.
    Chris - Benajamins is slang for money. As in Franklin Benjamin who adorns the $100 bill.

  • 27. Chris  |  October 5th, 2005 at 5:03 pm

    Crikey - I only said “some degree” of successful integration - and yes (though not in the way you might have meant it) it is about the Benjamins - the more integrated (e.g. fluent English, academic qualifications) implies the more Benjamins - the money follows from greater integration doesn’t it?

  • 28. Uncleji "i understand the young"  |  October 5th, 2005 at 5:19 pm

    It’s like all street and grime and wicked and nang “it’s all about the benjamins “

  • 29. Chris  |  October 5th, 2005 at 5:26 pm

    Thanks - though now I am forced to ask what “nang” means (though perhaps obvious from the context??)

  • 30. Chris  |  October 5th, 2005 at 5:34 pm

    Ooops - just found the definition in the “urban dictionary” -

    “The word originated in Hackney, London. Specifically Kingsland Secondary School (now sadly gone).
    The word is a direct product of one Nang Phan, an ex-student of KS. It came about through boys in years above her chiding “ahh, Nang you’re nang”. It caught on like wildfire from there.”

  • 31. Uncleji the pioneer  |  October 5th, 2005 at 5:37 pm

    “it is about the Benjamins - the more integrated (e.g. fluent English, academic qualifications) implies the more Benjamins - the money follows from greater integration doesn’t it?”

    Cleverly put but I think the fate of the 1st gen Afro-Carib Community sharing a common language, religion, schooling with the white folk and had expections of a land of Shakespeare and who are now largely in big trouble or have returned to the West Indias versus the fate of don’t give a monkeys about whether you like us or not or the fate of your country, 100 to a house, ignorant, Non-Chrisitan, thick as shit, non-english speaking rural punjabi who has now made his home here and owns most of West London. But enough about me….

  • 32. Chris  |  October 5th, 2005 at 5:43 pm

    Great point to which I have no clever answer!

  • 33. Uncleji reopening old wounds  |  October 5th, 2005 at 5:58 pm

    Don’t get me started on Nang, The More I look at its origin of nang the more confusing it gets I’ve counted at least a handful of different explainations from hip hop to nitro oxide inhalation (don’t ask)

  • 34. SajiniW  |  October 6th, 2005 at 11:03 am

    I’m cross that people take TP and the CRE seriously - they seem to have a public face of making ’soundbites’ without actually telling us what they do!

    As for finding ‘coloured’ offensive - it’s down to the sheer laziness and divisiveness of the term, signifying a ‘difference’ without the respect of acknowledging where people came from. Asian sits much better with me :D

    I wonder how the South African coloureds feel about it - they’re either white/Malay or white/Chinese mix, and have been termed this way for centuries..

  • 35. krazie  |  October 6th, 2005 at 11:08 am

    Chris, you’ve killed the use of the word “Benjamins”

  • 36. krazie  |  October 6th, 2005 at 11:12 am

    If Afro-Caribbeans and Pakistanis lived in enclaves and not ghettos would we be more integrated?

  • 37. leon  |  October 6th, 2005 at 12:01 pm

    Maybe i’ve missed something; what’s the difference between an enclave and a ghetto?

  • 38. krazie  |  October 6th, 2005 at 12:02 pm

  • 39. leon  |  October 6th, 2005 at 12:50 pm

    Hmmm I think we’ve wandered into semantics territory here…anyway, a question we might want to ask is just what is integration? What does integration mean to you? How do we achieve that in our country?

  • 40. leon  |  October 6th, 2005 at 12:55 pm

    Oh yeah anyone read TP latest muddle of thoughts…,,1585621,00.html

  • 41. Sunny  |  October 6th, 2005 at 2:14 pm

    Has he gone mad? Now we can’t celebrate our holidays?

  • 42. fishbelly white gora  |  October 6th, 2005 at 3:11 pm

    There was a Bloom County cartoon years ago (did you guys get that here? Opus the penguin and all that?) where one of the characters is talking to his elderly mother, who refers to “colored people.” And he’s like, no ma, it’s “people of color.” She’s like, “that’s what I said, colored people!” ;)

    There was also one where a black kid is playing with his Crayolas, trying to do a self-portrait, and asks another kid to hand him “flesh” color. Friend duly hands over a peach crayon (which used to be called “flesh” color back in the day), which the black kid looks at silently and then says “Guess I’ll have to settle for ‘burnt sienna.’” ;)

  • 43. Al-Hack  |  October 6th, 2005 at 3:44 pm

    Ha ha!

  • 44. Leslie  |  October 7th, 2005 at 12:06 am

    “semantics” or “semites”????

  • 45. leon  |  October 7th, 2005 at 12:10 am


  • 46. coruja  |  October 7th, 2005 at 3:18 pm

    Trevor Phillips wants us to have a sane conversation about race and yet he seems to go about starting the dialogue in the wrong way. Having followed his career from the Greater London Assembly to the CRE, I feel he did a much better job of promoting a discourse in race relations in this country when he was outside the CRE. He has been very outspoken (together with Dianne Abbot) about the educational problems faced by black children and he does point out very uncomfortable truths about ‘multi-cultural’ Britain.

    However, in his constant debunking of our current ‘multi-cultural’ society, he needs to clarify his idea/definition of ‘multi-cultural’ (very different to mine, as mine is to yours) – and he needs to do this every time. Because he does not do this, we have the situation where the right-wing media applaud him and the very people he is meant to represent decry him – as each group reads in to his statements things they want/not want to hear.

    This is a sad and dire situation, it leaves us squabbling amongst each other, accusing one another of ‘political correctness’ and ‘racism’ and generally not getting anywhere, fast. I feel he is light years ahead in his discourse and is probably perplexed at the reactions to his recent questions. I too would like to see the day when we can discuss whether the word ‘coloured’ is actually that offensive, but hopefully by then the word itself - used as it is to label any human beings that is not of a ‘white’ complexion - would be irrelevant. Right now it is offensive to me. Who benefits the most by using that expression? I certainly would not be using it to accurately describe another person.

    I feel he is doing more harm than good right now with his efforts to start a grown up debate about race, identity, integration and assimilation. Calling me ‘coloured’ and stopping me from celebrating whatever religious festival I chose to celebrate is not going to improve my socio-economic position, it is not going to make less noticeable to the police and it is not going to improve my life. We should really tackle the problems of inequality first and although this is something he works towards sadly it is not what makes the headlines.

  • 47. Al-Hack  |  October 7th, 2005 at 3:22 pm

    You hit the nail on the head Coruja, he is moving ahead without acknowledging the realities.

  • 48. leon  |  October 7th, 2005 at 4:49 pm

    Not just that the guy plainly doesn’t know his own mind. In Mondays speech he asked if the word coloured is really that offensive then a day or so later he writes in the Guardian that he finds the word offensive and gives some insight into the reason why.

    I’ve always liked him (while not always agreeing with everything he thinks) but at times like this it’s hard not to see him doing anything other than creating headlines…

  • 49. krazie  |  October 7th, 2005 at 4:54 pm

    As to the issue of the word “coloured” i think it would very naive to think that the Head of the CRE would not find that word offensive. TP realises that in areas of low BME communities, people still use the word coloured.

    Maybe he should have made that point clearer from the outset.

  • 50. leon  |  October 7th, 2005 at 5:05 pm

    I don’t think it’s an issue ir naivety; it’s whether TP is a misconstrued progressive or some headline grabbing idiot.

  • 51. krazie  |  October 7th, 2005 at 5:06 pm

    A bit of both i reckon.

  • 52. leon  |  October 7th, 2005 at 5:07 pm


  • 53. krazie  |  October 7th, 2005 at 5:11 pm

    However, as most political debates are now argued in the media (The Daily Mail has a readership of over 2million), there is a need for our figure heads to involve and hopefully win over that core sector of the populus. If attention grabbing headlines does trigger a debate for more substance, i think thats good.

  • 54. leon  |  October 7th, 2005 at 5:18 pm

    Hmmmm…I think people need to check their facts and offer a diverse viewpoint based on a coherent position (the latter is something TP has trouble with it seems). For progress you also need diversity of opinion.

    My feeling is that well see more of this in the days to come especially with the coming Tories leadership race (no pun intended!) bound to have immigration/multi culturalism/integration in there somewhere…

  • 55. krazie  |  October 7th, 2005 at 5:24 pm

    Maybe (not tonight as i want to get home and can’t be f***ed to find the speech) we can debate these so called false facts that you mentioned.

  • 56. leon  |  October 7th, 2005 at 5:25 pm

    LOL! It aint me allegeding they’re facts, its TP!

  • 57. krazie  |  October 7th, 2005 at 5:28 pm


  • 58. leon  |  October 7th, 2005 at 5:30 pm

    Later dude!

  • 59. Kulvinder  |  October 8th, 2005 at 6:45 pm

    Everyone apart from the Daily Mails is critcising him, omglolrotflmao etc. Any ‘culture’ that britain has and wants to keep is enshrined in its laws, everything else is undefined bollocks. I hear the germans pride themselves on their intolerance and abhorence of fairplay.

    Points of jew, i like the name. Although id have gone with, What the Jew!? or something.

    You know sunny yeah, he wanted to call this site…brown theory.




  • 60. leon  |  October 9th, 2005 at 3:21 pm

    Brown theory? Dear me….!:P

  • 61. Sunny  |  October 9th, 2005 at 6:12 pm

    Those discussions were meant to be private you punk Kulvinder! How dare you poke fun at me like that :|
    I liked Brown Theory :$

  • 62. leon  |  October 9th, 2005 at 6:36 pm

    LOL! Brown Theory! *giggles* It’s kinda cute!

  • 63. leon  |  October 12th, 2005 at 6:11 pm

    Lee Jasper has his say…,3604,1589876,00.html

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