Starkey believes the whites in these photos are acting black

Historian David Starkey provoked a race row over the weekend with comments he made on BBC 2’s Newsnight suggesting that the London riots proved that Enoch Powell’s 1968 “Rivers of Blood” speech, a warning about mass immigration was right, and that whites who took part in this riot were only copying black gangster culture.

Over the weekend historian David Starkey came under fire from MP’s and presenters for his comments on BB2’s Newsnight. Starkey said that the recent London riots proved that Enoch Powell’s 1968 “Rivers of Blood” speech had come true regarding mass immigration to Britain.

During the discussion Starkey said:

I think what this week has shown is that profound changes have happened. There has been a profound cultural change. I have just been re-reading Enoch Powell. His prophecy was absolutely right in one sense: the Tiber didn’t foam with blood, but flames lambent wrapped around Tottenham, wrapped around Clapham.”

But it wasn’t intercommunal violence; this was where he was completely wrong. What has happened is that the substantial section of the chavs that you [Mr Jones] wrote about have become black. The whites have become black.”

A particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion. Black and white, boy and girl operate in this language together, this language, which is wholly false, which is this Jamaican patois that has intruded in England. This is why so many of us have this sense of literally a foreign country.”

Listen to David Lammy, an archetypal successful black man. If you turn the screen off, so you were listening to him on radio, you would think he was white.” (Starkey raving bonkers! Historian accused of racism on riots: Jane Merrick: The Independent: Sunday, 14 August 2011)

Although Starkey denied that he is a racist and claimed he referred to a cultural criticism rather than one based on skin colour his argument does not add up. He refers to a “cultural change”, a change precipitated by immigration. He then goes on to quote the Enoch Powell 1968 “Rivers of Blood” speech which dealt with mass immigration and how it will effect Britain. He then goes on to say that the whites who took part in the violence had become black, meaning they were imitating what he called “a particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic gangster culture…” A culture he associates with Jamaican patois. He then goes on to say that is why so many of us, obviously meaning whites feel that they are living in a foreign country. Starkey does not stop there, he even adds that Tottenham MP David Lammy sounds white, essentially equating black success with white values.

Starkey’s comments adds up to just one conclusion, black culture is the problem and whites who took part in the riots are not to blame because they were imitating black culture. These are comments associated with the far-right and therefore should labelled correctly, racism.

The British National Party (BNP) refers to these riots as race riots, despite the fact that whites took part, Starkey’s views is in line with the BNP’s, but he goes further than the BNP and provides an excuse for the white presence at the riots by saying that they were acting black.

Starkey also fails to explain the white, middle class looters, such as 19 year-old Laura Johnson, the daughter of a millionaire, who was charged with stealing £5,000-worth of electronic goods, which included a Toshiba TV, Goodmans TV, microwave and mobile phones. (The middle class ‘rioters’ revealed: The millionaire’s daughter, the aspiring musician and the organic chef all in the dock: MailOnline: 12 August 2011) Was she acting black and imitating gangster culture?

Stefan Hoyle, also 19 years-old was caught in Manchester looting a violin. He is an aspiring musician and the judge said he had brought disgrace on his family.

A 17 year-old Ballerina and aspiring dance teacher was caught looting Richer Sounds, in Croydon. Does Starkey believe these whites were imitating gangster culture and trying to be black?

When I wrote my article London riots: Will it address black deaths in police custody? I specifically mentioned that the mainstream media would focus on the looting and they have done that with an emphasis on black youths.

Obviously Starkey did not meet the numerous members of the Black community who condemned the looting and confronted the rioters. Brave individuals such as the elderly West Indian woman with a walking stick who confronted looters in Hackney and condemned the looting and arson referring to the looters as “dirty thieves”. (A million hits for footage of Hackney woman berating looters: Tom Harper: Evening Standard: 9 August 2011) The woman reminded looters that a man (Mark Duggan) had been shot to death by police and this was the real focus of the demonstration but they had perverted the cause by turning it into a robbing spree. She reminds them that shop owners had worked hard to build their businesses up and that they were just destroying their own community. After saying that she was ashamed to be a Hackney person she says rather than fighting for a cause they were robbing Footlocker.The woman’s confrontation was recorded and became an internet hit with over one million hits. (Watch clip here:

This West Indian woman spoke patois, the dialect Starkey refers to as false and intruding England, the same patois that Starkey associates with gangster culture, never-mind the fact that reggae icon Bob Marley used patois to inspire generations of white, working class communities to fight for their rights, and inspired British music genres such as punk and pop, inspired bands such as UB40 and artists such as Boy George etc.

Individuals like Starkey are historically blind to the fact that Britain is responsible for the fact that immigrants are here in the first place, it is this sense of privilege and cultural arrogance which makes Starkey and those like him racists.

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2 thought on “Historian David Starkey labels riots a black cultural problem”
  1. I dont think the man David is saying all Jamaican people are to blame for the riots and our culture in London today, and also that every single person in the riots was from Jamaica etc., but he has got a point as most people in the riots do speak this way and the way they speak has got something to do with the yardie element of Jamaica, and white people from the same areas due to whatever reasons do speak this way as well, so he is more correct in his views than wrong.

  2. Brett Wheeler,

    With deep respect, I don’t think that you have read this wonderful article diligently with the respect it deserves?

    The article points out that there were white people from middle-class backgrounds, speaking the Queen’s English who were also involved. These white people have probably never associated with black people or been influenced by ‘patois’ So the idea that most of them speak this way is your own unconscious prejudices coming out and so too the ignorant historian. Maybe you have a discrimination against the white working class slang and are confusing the two dictions or dialects?

    Another point: A white male taking part in the riots did so as he hated the jobs going to ‘fucking African'(his words) and Eastern Europeans. He did not quite master the English diction, but certainly he did not, and would find it insulting, speaking ‘patois’ as suggested by the historian

    Please read the article properly

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