This is a bit out of sync because I haven't put it under the day it actually happened, but today because I've been thinking about it this morning. I guess sometimes I realise things, the full implication of them, days after the fact.

The other day I was phoning a local authority for one of the London boroughs (a local government office) to find out some statistics about that area for a project I want to run next year. It was the kind of stats you get from the government census like ethnic mix, 'deprivation index figure' (how poor an area is, official unemployment figures, etc...

The guy was very helpful and was open about the problems with (these and of course, all) statistics, as they are often extrapolations on a 'known' premise and loads of data is not ever recorded because some sections of the population, don't ever fill in a census form. fine. I had no problem with this, because I wasn't looking for accuracy - not that I think it's even possible. I wanted the government's offical line.

First of all he gave me the ethnic breakdown, based on 'white', being one homogenous category and 'black' and 'asian' - both categories were broken down into sub-sections, like Carribean, African, other; or Pakistani, Indian Bengali, other. Despite the inherent inaccuracy of statistics they were interesting because in an area commonly perceived to be 'black', there was a 65% white majority ethnic population. I know this stat was borough-wide and arguably only certain sections of the borough have a black majority ethnic population but hmmm... It has got me thinking. I remember that there's an estate (project) behind our building which I always believed had an 80% or 90% Bengali population, with the rest of the residents, perhaps Somali. I met someone who lived there the other day, a white person, who said that actually there was at most 60% Bengali origin people living in the building and the rest were mostly white.

I realised what I had done. Because they were 'Others', not people like me, I focused on their presence only. I didn't see how many non-Bengali people were also around. It was me who multiplied their numbers. This is in the area I mentioned earlier where I sometimes feel threatened...

Interesting the way my mis-perceptions and my fears bloomed together.

Anyway, back to the story of the statistics man: He told me all these interesting things about the area and then decided to add that, of course, non of these are accurate because of all the refugees and immigrants. clang I know what that means. There's a lot of stuff in the media about illegal immigrants and the 'flood' of refugess on Britain's shores. Given that just last week it was Refugee Week and Amnesty International had published a very interesting document addressing some of the media hype, I had a bit of a different few about the 'refugee crisis'.

It's well known that Europe today is refered to as 'fortress Europe' for the way it has clamped down on any form of immigration from outside its frontiers. Even the press acknowledgethat.
That's one thing but Britain takes in even fewer refugees than anywhere else in Europe. Given that I have quite a few refugees in my family history, I guess I have a lot of sympathy for people escaping torture and death in their countries of birth, looking for sanctury elsewhere only to be turned back to their murderer by 'civilised' countries like Britain and the US. It happened during World War 2 as well.

So what was this guy telling me by slipping in the 'information' about refugees and immigrants in that borough? Well, nothing hard of course, nothing factual or verifiable, it was an implication...

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