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28 October 2014

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You are in: Bristol > Abolition > Is Bristol "racially fractured"?

Is Bristol "racially fractured"?

Bristol once made vast profits from the toil of enslaved Africans. Now it strives to be a place where people of all races have equal opportunities.

Marvin Rees

Is Bristol really "racially fractured"?

But where does the truth lie about race relations in the modern-day city of Bristol? Is there genuinely a level playing field for people from ethnic minorities or is the legacy of the slave trade still holding people back?

We want to know what you think about this subject - join the debate on this subject below.

Social commentator and journalist Marvin Rees has lived in the city all his life. In a special edition of "Inside Out West" on Friday, 23 March 2007, he argues that Bristol remains "racially fractured".

He claims that while on the surface there appears to be racial harmony there are still some serious inequalities we have to address.

Marvin was born in Bristol to a white mother and black father. It's made him very sensitive to questions about racial identity and to the relationships between people from different ethnic groups.

He uses a quote from the former Czech Republic presdient Vaclav Havel to describe how he feels about the modern-day Bristol: "The absence of conflict is not evidence of the presence of peace."
In Marvin's view there is a racial imbalance in education, housing and political power. He points to the number of black councillors on Bristol City Council, just one out of seventy, as evidence of this.

"... as a city we live with a rawness around the topic of race."

Marvin Rees

"It's easy to look at history today and disapprove of slavery. It's easy to look at the future and wistfully dream of unity and togetherness, but it's hard to deal with the messiness of the now and the bad feelings that exist," says Marvin.

"For me there is definitely some unfinished business and I think it's exposed in the opinions expressed on radio phone-ins and 'letters to the editor' pages.

"I am not saying everyone is about to join the BNP, and I am not saying things are the way they used to be. But I am saying that as a city we live with a rawness around the topic of race."

Marvin thinks the 200th anniversary of the passing of the act to abolish the slave trade gives Bristolians an opportunity. He's hoping the bicentenary will encourage people to find out about the city's history and learn about the abolitionist struggle.

But more than that he hopes it will bring people together to find a way of moving forward as equal partners.    

"Inside Out West" is on Friday, 23 March, at 7.30pm on BBC One - you can watch the show online now, the link is at the top of this page.

There's also a showpiece "Points West Abolition Debate" on Sunday, 25 March, at 10.15pm on BBC One which will tackle some of these issues.

What do you think? Is Marvin right that Bristol is "racially fractured"? Or is there now a level playing field for people of all races?

Add your comments below and we'll publish the best ones on this page.

last updated: 26/07/07

Have Your Say

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

I think what he has to say makes sense, but i would say that it is not just an issue that affect bristol. Cornwall is as much backward as it is coming forward. there is not a level playing field and there is a need for the communities to recongnise this and become engaged, this is not just the 'black' (using this word in its political sense) or an ethnic minority issue it is a real issue for all members of society and the power that is taken away form us by allowing this to continue just reinforces the status quo. I dont know what the answer is to a fair society but i would suggest that political enggement is a way forward as we have the power of the vote! let us it to make a change.

Why does it seem to offend people so much that people are offended by the slave trade? Is it not totally understandable that something so inherent to the black community may offend them when it seems like the rest Bristol is shouting “forget about it, it was 200 years ago.” It seems like there’s a complete lack of compassion for the people that think the slave trade still has a place in decision making such as the naming of new buildings

If Radio Bristol is sooo' concerned about equality and representation, why are there so many white English presenters and ethnic minority representation is negligible?

My experience is that there is nowadays a real attitude problem in the Black community who expect an advantage just because they are black. I know plenty of successful black people who have done well by getting off their backsides and making an effort instead of expecting everything on a plate. Sorry to shatter their illusions but life is like that for all of us.Can I expect compensation from the English for the way my forebears suffered during the Clearances in the Scottish Highlands?

Everyone who was personally involved in the slave trade should apologise immediately.Unless of course THEY'RE ALL DEAD.Bored now.

soul searching
bristol born & bred, well travelled in the uk & the world. is bristol racially fractured?yes it is but so is the world racially fractured. the main cause in the uk is the never ending influx of to many different nationalities & cultures that do not mix with each other & most dont want to.the situation will worsen in time.multi racial society in the uk?you must be joking!we are just a disaster waiting to happen.

Black people get no way as much racism as us asians, especially in Bristol

O Ijeoma
Thought provoking stuff Marv. The legacy of how this country built its wealth and enslaved and brutalised a people is an uncomfortable truth that the idigenous population in this country would like to bury under the carpet. Try asking them to forget commemorating the Second World War. This legacy definitely lives on and burns deeply in psychosis of Afro-Caribbean people and African people and needs to be understood. Though I think your recommendations at the end had a hidden agenda as I believe you were trying to create a Cabinet post for yourself given your political ambitions! albeit a worthy one. You only have to look at the modern day problem ie Iraq war to see that this mercantilism from the powers that be is as prevalent today as it was 200 years ago.

Dear Matt and John Dakin, have you actually bothered to watch the programme? The link is above! No one here is asking for an apology. First listen to what Marvin has to say before you jump in and give your comments. This issues is not as simplistic as only asking for apology or reparations. That is the tabloid version of the debate but it goes much deeper than that.Warch the programme and I'd be interested in if your opinion & sympathies are altered. Peace.

John Dakin "Africa should put its own house in order before it expects the UK to ring its hands in shame."Can you not comprehend that one of the largest contributing factors to the problems in many African countries could have started hundreds of years ago? Europeans, largely British, plundered parts of the African Continent for it most precious resource, man. We're talking about an unpaid workforce of more than 20million people. This allowed for massive profits to be made in Europe. Cities like Bristol prospered, with money being put into education and industry and generally buoying the British economy. Just think, if Europe had lost 20 million people 200 years ago would it be in the position it is now? I doubt it. If Africa had been given the opportunity with its natural population I have no doubt that, as a continent, it would have flourished and rivalled Europe.

I think slavery is a bad thing. But I dont see why the government should officially apologise and Im glad they are not.This happened generations ago so why should we apologise when it was not us who embarked on it?I think its a disgrace that the new shopping centre ditched the proposed 'merchants quarters' name because it 'so say' refered to the slave trade. It does NOT.Bristol is here becuase of the many traders based in this city. When will people take openly speak out?

John Dakin
Whilst regretting what took place with "The Slave Trade" I see no reason why I should have to apologise for something that happened 200 years ago. Man's inhumanity to man is something that has gone on since time began. Many African countries were complicit in the slave trade - and African history is not "squeaky clean" Massacres in The Congo, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Darfur - Zimbabwe - are all very recent. Africa should put its own house in order before it expects the UK to ring its hands in shame.

Wendy Dunbar
I have lkived in bristol for most of my life and I have to say I do agree wkith Marvin. the police will more likly arest a black person that a white person. and you will more likly have a white person as the owner of a bisness than a black person. but it is not just black people that are discrimated agast as i no better then most as i have reading and spelling problems as you can see and i was picked on at school and don't have a job that pays a lot and am not likly to. if in was normal i might? back to slavery well to Africa today i have been to Tunisa and The Gambia in Tunisa it is like Europe moden and developed but lacking in African spirit. The Gambia is less developed but has lodes of African spirit and if you asked me which one i would perfer i would say The Gambia. but i can only go there with the money that this country got from slavery. but my point is that they dont want us to fell sorry for what we have in Europe and Amrica but just to enjoy it and they hope we will go there on holiday. i fell sorry that they think they have to come hear to be happy. because i knowvthey won't. they think if they have mouny they will be happy. no family, no frends that is if they make it hear not much mouny i think it is just £28 a week for every thing until they get to stay. but in Africa that seems a lot because every thing is much cheeper.

Just a few reactions to Marvin's views and the comments they have prompted, from someone who moved to Bristol about six years ago. When I moved here I was surprised at how little slavery was acknowledged, by how there seems to have been no decisive break with a past dominated by the Merchant Venturers and people like Colston and worse. But making that break now in anything other than symbolic terms (yes, stop celebrating Colston at least) is not straightforward. (much to be said about that...) And I guess we should remember that, however bad the legacy of slavery is for some Bristolians, it has been worse for Africa, large parts of which had their social and economic structures decimated, and which have hardly recovered. So, from a newcomer's perspective, we Bristolians (am I a Bristolian yet?) need to face some ugly and continuing truths, but bear in mind that there is a wider world with which we have ongoing relations... Slavery continues on Bristol's streets, with women being imported / used for the sex trade. The going rate is currently about 5000 pounds for such a woman apparently. Perhaps the best way to celebrate 200 years since the abolition of the slave trade would be to, well, abolish the slave trade.

I'm not from Bristol so I can't comment entirely on the city. I grew up in the east end of London but I live in Newcastle, a city not exactly known for its great cultural diversity. I too, am mixed race, but unlike many of mixed heritage, my views are concidered more 'conservative'. Sure I get funny looks from people, especially when in situations that are not concidered 'urban', but luckly my upbringing has trained me to go beyond the skin and engage with the mind. I don't think that a formal apology 200 years after the fact will change much except feed the minorities idea that they are an abused people and something is ultimately owed to them. If this is true maybe white britons should seek compensation from Italy for the roman occupation. And again, I don't think a lack of black role models and/or politicians can be blamed upon covert racism. I think its more down to the individual to either make his/her mark or as it has for so long, not.

It's obvious when you actually watch the programme to see that Marvin is looking to build bridges rather than cause division! He isn't asking for an apology or blaming today's white Bristolians at all, he is saying our histories are connected so let's share that history without guilt or hatred. A big challenge that needs to be met.

Disgruntled Slave and Tax Payer.
Formal apologies and suggestions as to how we can 'heal' the past? - if this is any more than lip service, then here are some simple suggestions for Bristol City Council. 1.Take the emblem of what may aswell be a slave ship off of Bristol City Council's logo, it is not our faults that his story prevents seperating Bristols maritime achievements from it's evil legacy which is slavery, and some people, whilst passing through this wealthy city on their way to work in office blocks and streets named after slaver-masters , happen to find staring at this emblem over and over again everywhere quite offensive. Talking of which, 2. Blackboy Hill, If you wish to celebrate slaverys abolition instead of slavery itself, then kindly change the name back to whatever it was before that whole dark and inhuman era of Bristol's his story started. 3.Colston school(s), presumably built indirectly with Colstons wealth (if not with slaves hands), should benefit the ancestors of slavery. 50% therefore is only fair by order of reparation, at least for the same period into the future as the city has been profiting from the wealth of slave merchants into the past. 50% access to Afro-Carribean and African pupils, 50% black teachers and 50% black governership, subsidised by the business interests and estates of Bristols slave-merchants where it is not affordable by parents of highly achieving candidates. We could go on, but these few small steps would at least be a start ... and then we could go on and deal with the issue of Bristol museum not giving official acknowledgement to Egypt as part of Africas heritage - but preferring only to parade us as slaves in their exhibitions. .... we could talk all night, but if we are not going to deal with these issues for real then we may as well not talk at all.

JHD White Welsh and Interested
What an interesting 30 minutes for a change. Mr Rees and the BBC should be thanked for making a stimlulating and thought provoking evening. The whole thing made me think about something which is outside my experience and my comfort zone - I was educated, proud, embarrassed and hopeful. It seems to me that a nerve has been touched - probably for the better. Real issues, real politics, real people - all within a living city. Educate your mind, free your soul?

Micky Story
I seem that, people who live is Bristol are all to willing to believe that , the racism referred to is about them, i think it true still that the majority of pepole living in the UK are not racist. but in many cases have had a racist education and have been sold a story about black people, no it is the powerful institutions, Press, Police, legal services, Educators, Historians, to name a few, who continue to promote a raciest view of our society and history. Wake up

Like many of the people in Bristol I'm fed up with people bringing up the past and not concentrating on what an individual can do if they want to... I live in a predominantly 'white' area of Bristol and am aware that every time I read about money being invested in a particualr area or school its an area known for it's ethinic minority. The money is being shoveled in. It's up to the citizens in those areas to take the opportunities gifted to them.

steve from frome
are we not masters of our own destiny?we hear so very often of a racist attitude shown towards black people but what about the racist attitude the blacks have for the whites? if this country offends so many people why stay here everyone has freedom of choice but in most cases its easier to gripe, moan and live in the are what you are and you make your own luck stop blaming others for your own shortcomings

Hi ~Toni for your information most of the money spent in St Pauls was spent on Bristol City Council regenoration departments and building firms , and actually Hartcliff is in recept of many millions of pounds, most of which is chaneled through the Councils departmemts. Now noe Toni you are trying to pretend that Hartcliffe is a white community, for your information there are plenty of us Black pepole there to. This discussion say it all.

Operation TRUTH 2007
The nature of racism has changed to become more covert or subtle. The messages that we get about ourselves as Afrikan people are not the in your face messages that we use to routinely receive in the not too distant past of the 70's and 80's. Our young people who are born to parents of Afrikan descent also born in Bristol are acutely aware that their nationality is not a passport to equality, despite being born here and not having the sense of cultural identity that their grand parents felt. Their experiences in the education and crimnial justice system tells them they are treated unfavourably. There are some areas of the city they will not venture into with friends or alone as they feel unsafe. Afrikan (caribbean) males are experiencing economic migrants from Eastern Europe being prioritesd over them for jobs. And they were born here. Bristol is not a city that epitomises racial harmony, but then no city in the UK can claim that either. The reality is that many Bristolians and British people see people of Afrikan descent as having a chip on their shoulder, were slaves but are now free and should 'get over it'. The range of messages seen on this page confirms this. This shows a lack of understanding and respect for a people who are at best tolerated. So what we contribute to this society is not recognised unless we highlight that ourselves. Marvin Rees is on point!

Andie from London
As frequent business visitor to central Bristol, there's a question my 'crew' often ask when we're in around the town center/docks, "where's all the black people?" Bristol is famous for its Afro-Carribean population, but most days we may see only one or two 'blacks', and they're probably peddling merchanidise by the streetside. Contrast this with our experience in London where you'll often ask, "where's all the white people gone?" Bristol, probably. BTW You've certainly NO shortage of Chavs though ;-)

Bristol born & bredrin
Venues with mixed crowds tend to get shut down. e.g. The Dug Out Club - closed by the Park St & Whiteladies (oh the irony...) Rd traders association and the Police. Western Star Domino Club - closed by the city council for broadmead expansion, 20 years before the work began! If you want to end discrimination in Bristol abolish the Merchant Venturers!

Bristol born & bredrin
Venues with mixed crowds tend to get shut down. e.g. The Dug Out Club - closed by the Park St & Whiteladies (oh the irony...) Rd traders association and the Police. Western Star Domino Club - closed by the city council for broadmead expansion, 20 years before the work began! If you want to end discrimination in Bristol abolish the Merchant Venturers!

I agree that there may not be a racial balance in occupations across Bristol, but surely the drive of the individual should be considered. Every person is responsible for their own life. Should we blame society for our own shhort falls? Yes we need people to encourage us to achieve but that doesn't mean they are responsible for our levels of achievement. If teachers fail you then you prove them wrong and achieve on your own. Nowadays people are far to willing to blame other people for their own problems. I don't believe that black people are being turned away from being a member of the council becasue they are black. surely the problem is that less black people want to be members of the council.

It's a two way street. After the St. Pauls riots huge amounts of money were pumped into black community projects. How much effort has ever gone into places like Hartcliffe? I guess Whitey just ain't trendy.

Also sick & tired
When are we gonna drop this subject it's getting boring, and if anything enciting racial tension. It's the latest craze for do gooders with a personal axe to grind! By my observations, living here for 35 years, the City of Bristol bends over backwards for people of ethnic & minority groups. It's getting that everyone else is becoming disadvantaged as we are all frightened of being accused of being a racist if we don't crumble to the demands of a handful of people who will never be satified. If you want equality, stop moaning, knuckle down to some hard work and earn what you whant out of life like we all do. Winging to the press all the time gets you no sympathy from me.

My wife heard an 8 year old thug abusing a somalian family the other day telling them to go home. To be honest i woudl of collared teh lad but my wife just told him to shut up. Does it exist in Bristol i have been here 12 years now and yes it does exists. Not just against Black people but all warps of people french,chinese,spanish, somalians,etc etc but these groups tend to ignore the small mindedness of the minority of people and get on with there lives, but it seems the Black/African/ carbeans react thsu giving teh dimwitted fools something so stir up trouble with.. Yes racism should be stamped out but ramming the Slave trade down peoples throats 200 years after wil not do that.

Hi Cop
I think you meant "they're everywhere" rather than "there everywhere." Besides, its not the physical proximity that isthe issue. Plantation owners had no problem taking slaves for sex. And the rich get close to the poor. The question is one of equality. Read some Frederick Douglas. He writes well on this.

Kelvin Blake
Marvin is right but its a problem that is going away. The question is of course how long before we have people from all classes and crede in every walk of life? For most people race does not play a part in daily life however there is an undercurrent that exists which will only ever be dealt with by people speaking out against it. Respect, kindness, and understanding is not too much to ask for is it?

We live in a multi racial hell hole, where the majority of different races do not want to and can not intergrate which each other.

I don't think there is as much racial intergration in Bristol compared to other cities I have lived in -Derby for instance. But I think different groups have a stronger identity here, which probably reduces intergration. But that in itself is not a bad thing, but it means that communities keep to themselves more. It is only when communities start to blame each other for problems that difficulties arise. Schools should do an awful lot more- my children had a far more mutlicultural education in Derby including visits to Mosques and culture centres and studying the history of all the people in the local population- it helps remove an 'us and them' attitude of ignorance and mistrust from a young age.

No racial fractions in Bristol at all, i moved to Bristol last year and the amount of mixed raced couples is the largest i have ever seen in any city. Look how many white girls you see with black men in Bristol. there everywhere.

Elsie Dee
I am a pensioner in Knowle and overheard a comment from a black man on the bus this week. When an asian lady borded with her baby the man commented 'i bet no one gives up a seat for her - all those white people, but they'd do it if she was a white girl' Before he had even finished talking 2 poeple did offer her seat and she was comfortably seated as the bus pulled away. Maybe we ALL need to rethink our attitude. Comments like that are unfair.

Sid T
As for getting tired of this, I am to. But I'm tired of living with the ongoing inequalities (race and class based) and having to raise them time after time - and we must raise them as long as they characterise our society. Infact, if Marvin was right and its not till 2150 that we'll see genuine racial equality in employment or public services, I expect pretty exhausted.

I agree with Waynes earlier comment of: 'However, there is certainly underlying racism in my city, probably only a few rotten apples, but thats all it takes to re-emphasis the fact that some people remain continually eager to promote differences in an un-educated and pointless way.' I think it seems the majority of people in bristol are not directly racist. What i mean is there are alot of people who behind closed doors, or in the presence of their own race only, air their negative views. But alot of these views are based on stereotyping, due to a lack of knowledge or exposure to other races. These people form an opinion, and because they haven't bothered to broaden their horizons and open their mind a bit, they become stuck in that opinion. Its hard to say what true racism is. But it does exsist in many forms in Bristol. And the person who mentioned earlier, that it is not only black and white racism that is the problem, is totally correct. I've seen racism between Blacks & Somali's, Asians, and practically anyone who seems to either not speak english as a first language, or has a slightly different skin colour. But it seems that its not just racism, its discrimination for being different. It can be discrimination against a disabilty, age or a sex. All of these issues are linked, and in my opinion they all boil down to stereotyping. People failing to see whats on the inside, and appreciating someone for who they are, not what shows on the outside. One good point is, i believe that racism is slowly being faded out with every generation/decade. More and more families are becoming mixed, therefore more people are being exposed to different races and cultures, which in turn is slowly stamping out ingnorance on race.

The people that are arguing that the residents of Bristol are benefiting from the slave trade and therefore should apologise for the past, are themselves residents of Bristol. What these people actually mean therefore is WHITE residents of Bristol should apologise for the past, which is racist. Would these same people be happy if I asked that all black residents of Bristol apologise for its drug problems (past and present)? I think not.

Perhaps we should hit out at black parents in this country if we want to address this fracture, this perpetual cycle that means that only "not black" - "not female" - "not middle class" playing field become head of industry. Parents - teach your children to be the best they can - chances are if you are stupid - your children will not become an industry head - no matter what colour they are... Here is where "social commentators" (get a propper job) mis the point - they are trying to treat the symptoms rather than cure the disease... Here is a Bristol example... White kid goes to Bristol acadamy, Black kid goes to Bristol acadamy, CEO of multinational went to "independant school" in Clifton - race or gender not an issue. FIX THE SCHOOLS - LEGISLATE AGAINST THE FAILINGS OF BAD PARENTS.. And realise that not everyone is clever...

MC - it's bigotted views like yours that cause the racial fracturing. Are you seriously suggesting that the decendants of slaves should somehow be grateful for slavery because they are benefitting from our society? I'm actually quite disturbed by some of the comments on here. They just prove that racism is still rife in our community.

Can we have a few facts here? "Marvin Rees has lived in the city all his life." Does that exclude his three years in Swansea and the one in the US? Is this misrepresentation marvin's or just poor journalism? Also to quote him from the OBV web site. "He (Marvin) believes that Martin Luther King did not fight a cause for a materialistic culture and argues that in the UK: "I get frustrated by a community that values street cred rather than education. It's a tough enough world so why do we make it even harder for ourselves." So it appears that he is saying that the educational rift in Bristol is due to the black community? I wish he would make up his mind.

John D
This kind of debate will always cause a stir but at least Marvin is addressing an issue which encourages passion from both sides. I think it is easy to get carried away with the 'Bristol' focus here, but this debate and these issues can be mapped on to a much larger, national and even global scale. Marvin and the BBC should be applauded for taking the subject on and running with it. This is real REALITY TV dealing with real issues. I look forward to the debate with interest.

Nick B
There is no way a level playing field exists for people of all races. Look at our heads of industry - predominently white, British, male, middle aged middle class and wealthy - and the cycle perpetuates. It's good to be having this debate, the very fact people get angry about it means that it's an issue worth talking about.

Who is this person - social commentator - me too - I write on "have your say" all the time... It is not about Black and White - it is rich and poor... The rich can afford educational opportunities in Bristol and the rest of us have to put up with the same poor standard, meaning we all have the same opportunities to start with - perhaps not genetically (intellegence is clearly a factor) but we cant legislate for that can we - get a grip guys... Commenty over!

Charles D
In the last300hundred years we have had wars natural disasters.dictators killing millions of people,slavery was of it's time and nothing we can say or do now will make not make any difference,I just wonder how many black africans would now be holding high office in the americas or the uk if slavery had not taken place

Marvin, forget Vaclav Havel. Embrace the peace that exists.

I agree with Marvin. Bristol is racially fractured, its impossible for a white man to get a job now as employers dont want to be seen as racist.

Peter F
Now that is interesting, I did not hear or read any one accusing Bristolans of being racist, yet so many responses, feel that these comments are about them directly, I wonder why, could It perhaps be guilt talking, it seems that many responses would rather focus of any subject other than the debate that is, they want to talk about prostitution for example what does that have to do with this subject, or Rome perhaps. I agree that each generation will have a different experience the younger generation who have the benefit of their parents struggle have a different experience, and it always easy for those who have made it so to speak, to ignore the struggles of others. But lets not get to distracted it is a fact that racism still plays out in to day communities why deny it ? For example Colston was a Bristol merchant He had trading interests with the Royal African Company (his name appears associated with the company for at least 11 years) as well as in the European cloth, oil and wine trade. He clearly made a his wealth through slavery, yet he is still the City’s proud farther so just for a minute imagine, that instead the genocide of Africans, we looked a little closer to home at say Hilmar, I wonder what would be said of us if we tried to defend a statue of this more recent historical character, what would the current commentators have to say ? Whether we like it or not the record speaks for itself, as a City (note the distinction I did not say people ) our institutions continue to defend the indefensible there are many symbols, place and companies that derived their wealth from the genocide of slavery and the racism that followed, their are also many people in this City who find this offensive. Just as we would be offend if statues of concentration guards, were to be put up in public places or the names of concentration camps used to name public buildings. What would we for example have to say if we began to un earth the remains of the millions who died on those plantations, what if for a change the BBC and media told the true story of the slave trade, and those who profited from it, instead of sanitising the criminals of the past. It is no wonder that people are so quick to try and bury this debate, their education on the subject is none existent, this mainly due to the willingness of our lovely BBC and other media who in the main white wash this story ( sorry is that racism then, when it is ok only to tell the story, based on the views of those who profited from this history ? ) `frankly all the jobs and all the power mean nothing to me a fair share of these would not be a bad thing though. No one seems to be asking for an apology I cant think what use one would be, either and I am not sure what is meant to be conveyed by the statement that the ... fabric is wearing vary thin? Is this a threat perhaps, it certainly sound like one.

Stop blaming everything on the past. We are where we are. Slavery happened, its stopped. Positive discrimination in favour of ethnicity, colour, height is just as wrong. Most people labelled raciast want equlity, real equality. I didn't get a job because I was, you didnt get the job because you weren't the best. White employers are nervous recriting blacks as there is a perceived risk that they can always use the race card to defend poor performance. If we all behaved the same, we'd all be treated the same. On the issue of slavery, if it was all so wrong, why don't the decendants of slaves who ended up in Bristol go back to their mother land. Some are here, benefitting from our society because of slavery.

I agree with earlier is education that is vital to people understanding how to live with each other...all this "shouldwbe apologise" for every period of our history is just undermining the fabric of what is Britain today...mind you, the fabric's wearing very thin nowadays....

"Racially fractured" - another meaningless buzzphrase like "sleepwalking into ghettos" and "subconscious racism". Black people will not be happy until they have all the jobs, all the wealth, and all the decision-making – total power.

Peter F
To be frank it is the wrong question, it not a question of racially fractured, it is a question of the consequences of Bristol's history of Racial Oppression, carried across three generations, the effects still exist are destructive and need to be addressed . The fracture that exists is the broken life's of a number of generation caused by the policy of Bristol's Racism. Bristol as a City and it institutions have never taken responsibility for cleaning up the destruction that ensued from their political and economic activity in the recent past and until they do this question will always hunt the us as a City .

I am sick of people labelling a whole city, Who is defnding Bristolians ...? and giving them a chance to defend or voice a concern about being labelled by Mr Rees. If its what drives Mr Rees then good for him but please do not publicy berate judge me or my fellow Bristolians.

How can we apologise for things we have not done. Does this mean that communities such as Easton have to apologise for the prostitutes, the drug dealing that they have not had personal involvement in either? Its the past, its history, we learnt from it 200 years ago, no more political correctness or chip on shoulders. Get on with your life in making your community better for the future and not harp on about the past.

Keith White
How far back do we need to apologize for. Maybe we should expect an apology from the Vikings or the Romans, after all they were quite brutal to us English. But hey come on that's just history. Its part of the big journey of life, as was slavery. Maybe we should be thinking more about what we, the present mix mite have to apologize for.

Chris McCarthy
Give me strength! What more must we do to show that racism is not an issue now! I am of the younger generation coming through and it's just not an issue. It's still an issue with people like yourself (author) who are hung up on dragging the dead debate and flogging the dead horse every so often. Give it up as its getting boring now.

rupert daniel
I am forced to agree,(just take a look at current research) it is far to easy for us to ignore the impact, of both social and economic oppression that flowed from the exploitation derived from slavery and the use of racism as a means of control. The legacy of this exploitation is the inheritance of young black people to day, it is fair to say that in most public services ( and social research publications ) you will always find that people from ethnic minority communities and particularly those who’s heritage can be traced back to the slave trade, are negatively impacted upon within those services. Just as Britons wealth, finds its origins in the slave trade; so the descendants of people sold in to slavery and peoples of that shared history, can locate their struggle for ( social and economic ) equality in that period of genocide. Not to recognize the links between the past and the present in these processes is essentially dishonest. Only a racist ! or some one lacking any knowledge of the social and economic process would chose to deny the link and further lend support the the impact of racism in our communities to day.

I agree with Marvin 100%. There is certainly not a level playing field in Bristol - look at housing, education, health - how can people say everything is equal.

Steve K
Dan: You've misrepresented my comments when you say that I've 'protested loudly that you sit in an office with black people as if you're doing a service to them'. I didn't write that, or allude to that at all, so I have no idea why you want to totally misinterpret my words. I was merely giving an opinion based on my personal experiences and friendships. Perhaps your own sentiments are a little too close to those that you accuse me of.

Tom James
These comments are as "sick and tired" stated, becoming boring. The whole argument on racism is becoming tiring and bringing up racism and the slavery trade which is now thankfully over is upsetting for the anscetors of those who experienced it. However, recently there was a question put forward suggestion we should apologize for slavery when we were not even born. This is just simply ridiculous and i dont feel i personally should apologize for anything. Tom

"The absence of conflict is not evidence of the presence of peace." Two points. I believe that this was written in the 1970s about a state of national conflicit in the former state of Czechoslovakia. Is the comparason between Bristol in the 21st century and an Eastern European state about 30 years ago valid? In our current situation this comparason a nonsense! Secondly, what is peace? Surely part of it must be the abscence of conflicit?

In my 36 years of living in Bristol i can certainly say that as a person from An ethnic minority background, i have not been impeeded in my education or career. However, there is certainly underlying racism in my city, probably only a few rotten apples, but thats all it takes to re-emphasis the fact that some people remain continually eager to promote differences in an un-educated and pointless way. Whilst in my local pub last night, for instance, i noted Swasticas drawn in the WC, along with words of hatred. Do not fool yourselves, peace and harmony would be nice, but for that small, anonymous minority who would like to spoil it for the rest of us. And while they remain, from all walks and positions in life, who knows who they are, and how they have impacted and continue to impact on us. I am continuously on my guard in our fair city, due to being not in the majority.

Marvin has one fact to back up his opinion here. One member of the council Black out of seventy so 1.4% of councillors Black. The last census gave the percentage of Black people in Bristol as 2.3%, does this mean that if we had two Black councillors would that be ok? In the same census 91% of the population was white. Tanisha de' Cordova is your example racism or just rudeness, from your description I can not tell. Its an old question but why is the assumption that all racism is white on Black?

Bristol is not racially fractured, it's educationally fractured, just like any city, any country, any school, any workplace. I have no point of reference with someone who I couldn't maintain some level of intelligent conversation with. People by very nature group and separate themselves from others by joing and surrounding themselves with people that are similar. I have no point of reference with a non-english speaking muslim woman for instance, having not grown up with or ever known one. I see everyone has gone with the rather typical responses of 'I know some black people' of course you do, in this day and age who doesn't know 'some black people', I do think it speaks volumes when you have to protest so loudly that you sit in an office with black people as if you were doing them a service by sitting with them. I don't feel people will ever be entirely equal while the white community who doth protest so about how welcoming we are now, as some kind of meek apology. Racism is sporned from ignorance and lack of education, and after the bashing I have just given white people, I do feel that on the whole are we are far more accepting, with a willingness to integrate than we get credit for, still demonised on topics of slavery and such like, which for the record the African people sold their own into, just as they are currently doing selling their own people into slavery in the middle east, which is a side of the story which doesn't entirely fit the overall modern picture. The people that came to this country in the nineteen fiftys from the Caribbean were already somewhat integrated with a mastering of the language, and with the islands colonial heritage were prepared for British culture. Now aside from the eastern europeans who come to live and work here, there seems to be no willingness on the part of the immigrants to integrate, the Polish, Slovaks, Lithuanians and Russians who now bring huge amounts to this country doing the jobs that sadly British people are too lazy to do, such as cleaning and such like. They are integrated, which leads me to question whether at the heart of this matter is a religious divide?

As a black bristolian born and bred i disagree with marvin. I have travelled the globe and bristol is a very special place, not just because it is home, but because we do on the whole live in harmony. Most people tend to judge others with maybe a small glance, this is not necessaryily to do with the colour of their skin it could be the clothes they are wearing how they carry themselves. There are equall opportunites for all races, i just think that some people want and expect more for themselves. I suspect marvin has identity issues that many people of every race have. I just wish they would stop banging on about them and just get on and enjoy their lives. I suspect if pushed he has achieved everthing he put his mind to. The higher we reach the better we do.

John L
The Census shows that there is stromg geographical ethnic segregation in Bristol. With distict patterns of Black & Minority Ethnic populations and white populations living in deprived areas across the city.

Tanisha de' Cordova
I agree with what Marvin is saying, so long as you don't ask too many questions or put up too much of a fuss then we can easily surpass this issue of race. Do we live in a racist society? Racisim I believe has become so very subtle, and I am not even sure that individuals are aware of what they are doing and so it's just ignorance, and in any case is that a defence? For example, a man who shall remain anonymous for his own sake persits to hand me one of his business cards everytime he comes into my office when I ask him for his name, which may i add is very basic, he does not even say it just hands me his card. Like I can't spell, I am a graduated law student with LLB after my name. At the end of the day I have worked hard to get where I am and Just like every other human being because that what we all are first and foremost and everyone deserves to be respected. I also wonder are ethnic minorities placed within big organizations through charities to make up the numbers and therefore the organization can say they are diverse? On a level playing field, which part? As long as you don't count the fact we are on an upward slope.

Richard Langlais
Bristol has always had a racial problem, there is nothing new here. I think the main problems are the fact that ethnic minorities have spread out around the city, rather than being all concentrated in one area. This has led to locals of all races bringing up old problems. The city as a whole, lives in the past, so nothing moves forward much. Slavery was a tradegy, an event that should NEVER, (although it still exists today) have happened. But until the real causes of the social rather than racial fracture of the city is addressed, nothing will change. The problem with this city is the dispersal of wealth, and YES race is a major contributor to this issue. The Afro-caribbean community have been here for a long time. Many in that community feel let down by people who they have mixed with for decades. The city had a pretty good racial mix with superficial racial problems and a live and let live attitude. Something changed around 10 - 15 yrs ago, and that change has caused a rift. Perhaps the western world needs to address this problem, with more than just a few false apologies from politicians hell bent on winning the next election. Europe and America made billions from the slave trade and then tried to hide some of the past. This is the reason many blacks are irriate with the system. Give back what was taken i.e. dignity, humility, humanity and a sense of belonging. Allow the "PROPERTY"? To support itself!! Once the wound has been dressed so to speak the healing process will begin.

Steve K
I totally disagree that Bristol is 'racially fractured'. We each make of the city and its opportunities what we can. I'm sitting in an office right now with two white colleagues and two black colleagues. In the discussions we have, it's evident that my black colleagues do not feel that Bristol is racially fractured. One of my closest friends is of the same racial heritage as Marvin Rees, with a white mother and a black father. He's now quite a senior figure in a major bank and earns about three times what I do. He socialises, as all my friends do, easily with white, Afro-Carribean and Asian friends. Race just doesn't even appear on the radar as far as we're concerned. Marvin Rees mentions that there is only one black councillor in Bristol. Well, there's absolutely nothing stopping other black people from putting themselves forward for election - Shirley Marshall did and she was duly elected. Also, black kids have access to the same educational and housing opportunities as white kids do. Unfortunately, there will always be narrow-minded rascists and bigots. However, they exist in all communities and it's quite right that we should confront them. But for Marvin Rees to declare that Bristol is racially fractured is grossly overstating these problems.

sick and tired
"In Marvin's view there is a racial imbalance in education, housing and political power. He points to the number of black councillors on Bristol City Council, just one out of seventy, as evidence of this." if these imbalances do exist - then the statement above says it all - it's the local council and polititions that are giving individuals the excuses to keep alive a HISTORY that should be long dead and buried and is quite frankly becoming very boring

Peter Smith
Perhaps if the media stopped pampering to the whims of the people with nothing better to do than stir up trouble then it may die down. If a white man voiced an opinion about an ethnic minority and their history then he would be called a racist. Lets just go forward not back all the time.

Simon Wickham
The time has come for us to accept that the black community not only in Bristol but the whole of the UK built what we know as modern Britain with us. This is an important part of history and we need to realize that a man is not judged by his colour or wealth but what is in his heart.

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