Lewes Forum thread

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more empty coverage on Lewes in the broad sheets

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On 1 Sep 2010 at 9:00am Kevsy wrote:
.www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/aug/31/diverse-britain-racism-lewes-sussex
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On 1 Sep 2010 at 1:27pm TAFKAPS wrote:
That was a none story from that 'piece of s__t' that is the Guardian. Bandwagon jumpers.
Lets not comment and therefore not give the odious man the oxygen of publicity. End of!
 
 
On 1 Sep 2010 at 7:13pm Canoeman wrote:
The comments following the guardian article are very interesting. Many are similar to the comments on this site but it is good to get a wider and non lewes perspective.
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On 1 Sep 2010 at 8:21pm MC wrote:
Yup, they all think the author David James Smith is an insignificant pipsqueak too.
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On 1 Sep 2010 at 9:30pm christnye wrote:
It's not enough to say that he's an "insignificant pipsqueak". With the internet every bit of news and gossip is around forever, and Lewes will henceforth be googled as a whites-only den of catholic-burning racists. We are all tainted by association, and that is not insignificant.
So his lies need to be called out equally loudly. Most importantly, Lewes IS culturally diverse. The comments in the Guardian show that people genuinely think that Lewes is almost totally white, indeed many of my friends who live here casually trot this nonsense out. But is it? One of the many irritating results of the article is that now I can't help but mentally count (and cheer) every black or mixed race face I see. (I dare say I'm not the only one). And I honestly reckon that at least 10% of Lewes's population are black and mixed race. That's higher than the national average of 7.9%. I know there are figures for the constituency saying 2%, but Newhaven and Seaford are less culturally diverse than Lewes so those results are misleading. I suppose we'll have to wait for the results of the 2011 census to come out, but I wonder if anyone has any reliable up-to-date figures for Lewes only? Obviously it was too much effort for the Guardian or Sunday Times to actually do some research!
What is more, significant people in the town are non-white, including the manager of Tesco, the town's biggest employer (I think), and the vicar of Southover Church, one of the town's most charismatic leaders. To name but two.
So where are the official voices speaking out about this?
 
 
On 1 Sep 2010 at 10:19pm Pedant wrote:
I know you mean well christnye but don't you think maybe you're overdoing it a bit? There is such a thing as protesting too much, particularly with your numbers plucked from the air.
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On 1 Sep 2010 at 10:29pm christnye wrote:
Pedant. Er, no I don't actually. Did Thomas Paine stand idly by and let ignorance stand unchallenged? Okay I'll shut up now. (But my figures are based on empirical research!)
 
 
On 1 Sep 2010 at 10:39pm Roly Mo wrote:
The population of Lewes is approximately 16,000. I really don't believe that there are 1,600 black or mixed race people living in the town. Where on earth did you get these figures from?
 
 
On 1 Sep 2010 at 10:58pm stan wrote:
I don't understand why there is anything wrong with being less "diverse" than anywhere else. Most places in the world are not diverse at all, just a few major cities. London is only an hour away if that is what you are after. Lewes wouldn't be any better just because people with different coloured skin lived here. If that were true the ultimate good would be to distribute all the worlds races equally over the face of the planet.
Can't we just let people live where they want to and leave it at that£
 
 
On 1 Sep 2010 at 11:36pm christnye wrote:
Roly Mo, I could be wrong, and I agree it seems high, but that's my estimate based on people I see while living and working in Lewes. Don't forget it includes all people who are Asian, black or mixed race. I think most of us are naturally pretty colour blind and haven't noticed how racially diverse our town is these days - which is a good thing.
For example, I only just noticed that my immediate family (which if you'd asked me I would classify white), is actually 15% black and mixed race. Off the top of my head, and depending on what you classify as non-white, at least 5.5% of our town councillors are B and MR, 14.28% of our recent parliamentary candidates, 11.11% of a Tory campaign meeting I recently reported on, etc and so on.
 
 
On 1 Sep 2010 at 11:55pm Brixtonbelle wrote:
Not that i would trust wikipedia, this is the link to the ethnic diversity breakdown by districts.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_English_districts_by_ethnic_diversity
Lewes comes 189 out of 354 districts, but the census doesn't include people of mixed race.
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On 2 Sep 2010 at 12:14am christnye wrote:
So that gives a total of nearly 2,000 Black, Asian and Mixed Race residents in the district in 2001. I would suggest that Lewes town is by far the most likely part of the district to be culturally diverse, so the majority will live in Lewes. Again, I could be wrong. Also, and yes I could be wrong, but I believe that Lewes has got much MORE culturally diverse in the past decade.
Either way, it is hardly the milky white town that's being depicted in the Guardian and Sunday Times.
 
 
On 2 Sep 2010 at 11:50am Brixtonbelle wrote:
I think your maths is wrong Christnye. If 2.1 pc of Lewes residents out of 16,000 are of non white/ mixed race heritage, that makes 330 people in town.

Anyway I think focussing on specific figures isn't that helpful. The only good thing to have come out of this whole issue is that maybe it has made people in town less complacent and more questioning about what exactly constitues racism, and whether they in fact are causing offence unthinkingly.
 
 
On 2 Sep 2010 at 12:51pm Pedant wrote:
As i said christnye you may be doing more harm than good. First you write '(But my figures are based on empirical research!)', then you write 'I could be wrong, and I agree it seems high, but that's my estimate based on people I see while living and working in Lewes' and then you say again 'Again, I could be wrong. Also, and yes I could be wrong.'

You don't help a cause I agree with by throwing made-up figures around that you then have to keep admitting are wrong.
 
 
On 2 Sep 2010 at 1:01pm Down and Out wrote:
@ BB

"Anyway I think focussing on specific figures isn't that helpful."

I agree.

"The only good thing to have come out of this whole issue is that maybe it has made people in town less complacent and more questioning about what exactly constitues racism, and whether they in fact are causing offence unthinkingly. "

Possibly. Or possibly, the reaction will be, 'I'm not going to say hello to that new black parent in the school playground, because I'll probably cause offence without realising it.'
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On 2 Sep 2010 at 1:16pm christnye wrote:
Dear Pedant, if you're going to call yourself pedant, you really need to read other people's posts properly and check your facts. From Collins English Dictionary: "Empirical 1. derived from or relating to experiment and observation rather than theory". I'm reporting on what I've observed. . I'm not saying I'm wrong, that was just a literary device, I'm saying it's based on empirical research, not theory, and hence COULD be inaccurate. Do our own empirical research why don't you. Jeeeezus.
BrixtonBelle, ditto; your figure of 330 would be correct if (a) everywhere in Lewes DISTRICT, which includes very rural areas plus Seaford etc etc, were the same, and had remained the same for the past decade. Neither is the case, ergo, the figure has to be higher than 330.
I stand by my point that Lewes TOWN (not Lewes district) is culturally diverse and a very welcoming place for people of all creeds and races, which is what this thread is all about.
 
 
On 2 Sep 2010 at 1:20pm Down and Out wrote:
and BB - did you possibly add the odd comment to the Guardian page? Maybe one which was deleted?
 
 
On 2 Sep 2010 at 3:18pm Brixtonbelle wrote:
I would love to have a post removed by the Guardian ! The paper gets more and more irritating every day. I did read all the comments though and thought the Hugh Muir piece raised more questions than it answered. I did nick the wiki census link though.
 
 
On 2 Sep 2010 at 3:45pm Pedant wrote:
Your posts get stranger and stranger christnye. 'I'm not saying I'm wrong, that was just a literary device, I'm saying it's based on empirical research, not theory, and hence COULD be inaccurate.' So what you're saying is that if you observe something it could be wrong but if you reach a theoretical conclusion it won't be? And when you've admitted you're wrong it turns out you're not saying that but it's just 'a literary device'. Calming down and thinking a little before you post might be a good idea, on an empirical and not a theoretical basis.
 
 
On 2 Sep 2010 at 4:04pm christnye wrote:
Pedant, so just to make clear, you're not commenting here to advance the debate or to shed light on the issue, you're just here to slag off posts that you lack the intelligence to even read properly?
 
 
On 2 Sep 2010 at 4:33pm Southover Girl wrote:
Keep going Christnye, you are saying what I also believe is true. All that DJS's article and the followup reports in the broadsheets are doing is making us all feel gulity for something that we should not feel guilty about.
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On 2 Sep 2010 at 4:41pm Pedant wrote:
No, what I'm saying christnye is that absurd postings that throw meaningless made up numbers and fatuous combinations of words around do more harm than good to the cause they purport to defend.
 
 
On 2 Sep 2010 at 5:07pm stan wrote:
Southover girl,
I think you may have an over developed sense of guilt! It (DJS) has obviously really upset some peoples' view of themselves as if their own identity is indivisible from their surroundings. Nobody can make you feel guilty if you won't let them. But I quite like absurd postings myself.....makes me feel at home.
 
 
On 2 Sep 2010 at 6:57pm Pedant wrote:
I quite agree Stan. It's really something if an article in a paper owned by Murdoch can make someone feel guilty. Apart from reading a paper owned by Murdoch there's nothing to feel guilty about.
 
 
On 2 Sep 2010 at 11:10pm Brixtonbelle wrote:
@ Down and Out
"Or possibly, the reaction will be, 'I'm not going to say hello to that new black parent in the school playground, because I'll probably cause offence without realising it.'"
Yes I agree, it could make one hyper self conscious about causing offence. Still I find I have to be more cautious about what I say in Lewes anyway, it's a lot more "polite" than I'm used to !

Actually I've been thinking about this whole race issue again today and how many different races and peoples have assimilated into British culture and changed it as well along the way. But I think still the strongest divisive force in the country is class, not skin colour. It's pervasive and more subtle than it's ever been. I'm wondering whether I should be taking offence at people commenting on my accent which has variously been perceived as posh, and cockney ! Can it be both ? And does it make people think about me differently and judge me accordingly ?

The joy of this forum is the way anyone can speak without all those indicators of race and class getting in the way. Even if it does lead to some pretty funny assumptions about what constitutes local Lewes behaviour and opinions and DLF Lewes behaviour and opinions.
 
 
On 9 Sep 2010 at 2:10pm rumple wrote:
I am 59 years resident in Lewes and I think I detect a lack of honesty or perhaps not that exactly but lack of self knowledge definitely. Anybody of my age grew up in an entirely white environment, as humans we have to recognise and remember those we meet and we make a mental shorthand sketch of people for that reason and it would be bizarre in the extreme if that did not include skin colour. Therefore claiming to be colour blind is simply not credible.
As I say, I grew up in an entirely white environment and of course the first non white face was an event that one could not help but notice and since then the gradual increase over the years is equally noticeable, that is not to say objectionable, simply noticeable and of some interest. I recall when the then Kwong Ming opened and the children of that family joined the Secondary Modern in Mountfield Road, I recall that they were very popular due to their exotic appeal I guess.
As with almost everyone I try to be polite and friendly (with varying degrees of success) when I encounter new people of any background, I think one tends to try that extra bit if the other person is non white so as not to be perceived as prejudiced, or to be more welcoming of someone who we subconsciously think of as an outsider. As I have twice said, I grew up in an entirely white community and therefore I do see non whites as being from a different community, that is because that is my experience and not my prejudice. The fact that such people may now be third generation British is a fact I have to consciously tell myself.
People such as myself, and I refuse to consider myself alone in this, imagine that people of colour have an equally colourful background that we would be interested to know about, yet we feel impelled to be circumspect in enquiring about peoples background in case that is misconstrued.
For the most part non whites from my early experience were from within the Commonwealth and shared language, religion and customs with the community they joined. Increasingly that is not the case and increasingly I find myself schizophrenic on the issue. On the one hand I still like to be welcoming to strangers and as friendly as it is in me to be. On the other hand I do not welcome the thought of being the outsider myself in many parts of my own country and I feel a sense of community with those poor soles who have to live in communities entirely taken over by foreign speaking, looking and behaving people, we did not sign up for this in any democratic sense and I abhor it.
To sum up I guess I am saying that "yes I have some prejudices but they are not necessarily what others may think they are, and, hey, it is the human condition to be prejudiced towards people most like oneself". Prejudices can be, and mostly are, overcome by experience. To deny the prejudice and the overcoming of it is, in my view, not to be fully self aware.
PS I know David's family slightly and often see them around the town and walking home from school, they give every appearance of being extremely well integrated but what do I know!


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