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 Embracing Multicultural Scotland

Who’s a Real Scot? The Report of Embracing Multicultural Scotland


Executive Summary for Press Release


Click here for full report - now in PDF (as of 2013)


[for "St Andrew" paper on Scots constitutional theology giving the mythological context]


the People & Parliament report, which preceded this work


BBC's report on the report  



“Who’s a Real Scot?” – a new report from the Edinburgh-based Centre for Human Ecology and funded by the Euopean Social Fund, says that black and ethnic minorities are not able to feel as “Scottish” as they would like to. At the report’s launch this morning (Thursday 13 April 2000), MSPs will be told that they should try to build Scottish identity upon social inclusion and combat tendancies towards exclusion on the grounds of race and skin colour. Doing this means implementing existing equal opportunities legislation, educating about how prejudice arises, making it easier for ethnic minorities to participate in democracy and encouraging “fair trade” between Scotland and Third World countries.


The study by the “Embracing Multicultural Scotland” team at the Centre for Human Ecology, which has Open University accredited status, involved 27 black and minority ethnic groups from the Central Belt.


Most felt that they had more than one sense of identity, making statements like, “I feel dual identity, both Scottish and Bangladeshi;”  “I am a Malaysian Indian and I live in Scotland, so I carry three identities and they change depending on where I am and what I am doing;” and “I’m seen as Pakistani in Edinburgh and British in Pakistan, therefore I feel myself as Scottish-Asian.”


The sense of Scottishness varied with how long they had lived in the country and whether they were born in it. “My children feel Scottish so I feel Scottish,” one woman said. “Friends who are indigenous Scots give a sense of belonging,” said another. Having a Scottish accent, owning property and contributing to the economy were other factors.


Set against this, experiences of racism had a deeply undermining effect. Typical statements included: “The seat beside me is always the last taken. It is because we are coloured immigrants. If we were white we would be accepted”; “I always feel a stranger because they say “Paki go back!” “I don’t see myself as Scottish although I have lived here all my life – the culture does not include me”; They like our food but they don’t like us,” and, “They ruled us for 200 years. We are here just working hard, contributing to the economy, not ruling and they still can’t accept us.”


To find out what changes the minority groups would like to see they were asked to imagine Scotland as a truly muliticultural society in the year. Their visions included, “There is nothing holding my daughter back as she can do whatever she wants,” “People are treated as individuals and not by where they come from,” “The education system teaches tolerance and erodes ignorance of cultural diversity,” “Our identity would be a positive point, not seen as a hindrance by others as it is now,” “We will be celebrating brownness,” and, “The head of the Scottish Parliament is black and female!”


Finally, asked what the Scottish Parliament should do to implement this vision, groups replied overwhelmingly that MSPs should “Implement the Equal Opportunity laws that already exist,” that there should be “more encouragement for us to go into politics,” change the fact that the education system and job interviews are “a white middle class system,” “Get rid of the view that British means white,” and, “There should be black MSPs but they should not be just for black people. We should not be ghettoised.” In taking these steps, one group said, “The Scottish Parliament should talk to mums because fathers are too busy.”


Based on the findings the Embracing Multicultural Scotland team are recommending that MSPs:


  1. Act in such a way as to make clear that Scottish identity equally includes all black and ethnic minorities living here.

  2. Set existing equal opportunities legislation to work.

  3. Promote “fair trade” with Third World countries.

  4. Educate about how colonialism created racist attitudes.

  5. Help people to understand the psychology of prejudice, scapegoating and stereotyping.

  6. Takes steps to tackle growing evidence of ethnic prejudice against English people.


The report points out that Scotland, according to mythology, derived its name from “Scota,” daughter of Pharaoh, who the early history books say brought the Stone of Destiny here. Because she was Egyptian, this implies that, “The mother of the nation was black!” It also points out that the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath, Scotland’s first constitutional statement, says that there should be “neither weighting nor distinction” between different ethnic groups. And Gaelic proverbs like, “The bonds of milk are stronger than the bonds of blood,” point to a tradition that values fostership more than blood lineage.


It concludes by suggesting that “a person belongs to Scotland inasmuch as they are willing to cherish and be cherished by this place and its peoples.”


Said Alastair McIntosh, a Fellow of the Centre for Human Ecology and member of the Embracing Multicultural Scotland team, “The report shows that Scotland’s ideals about social inclusion do not always match the reality if your skin colour is not white. That comes as a disappointment to many Scots, but it is something we must work on if we don’t want Scottish identity to mean only being white. We’ve got all the right ideas about hospitality and fostership. We just have to implement these more if we really want to honour the traditions of what it means to be a “real Scot.”


Another team member, Prince Emmanuel Obike originally from Nigeria said, “Those of us who live and work in Scotland do feel a sense of belonging even though racism has often also been part of our experience. Some of us feel strongly Scottish and proud to be so. In the end, what we want individually or collectively is respect for our sense of identity and worth. That is what will foster a feeling of togetherness and allow diversity to be woven into the tapestry of Scottish life.”


The “Who’s a Real Scot” report is being sent to all MSPs. It will be available by internet on www.che.ac.uk.



[for "St Andrew" paper on Scots constitutional theology giving the mythological context]


the People & Parliament report, which preceded this work



This page from: www.AlastairMcIntosh.com


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