Hilary Pilkington
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‘Not racist, not violent, just no longer silent’
Aspirations to non-racism

In this chapter claims to non-racism by EDL activists are critically explored. A theoretical discussion of core debates over the contemporary meanings of ‘race’, racism and post-racialism is followed by a detailed exploration of EDL activists’ understandings of what constitutes racism and what it means to be racist. These narratives suggest a genuine aspiration to non-racism among most grassroots members of the movement. At the organisational level this is evident in a commitment to excluding racism from the EDL, making it ‘open to all’ and marking a clear line between it and those parties and movements considered to be racist. At the individual level, respondents construct subject positions that they view as not racist through reference to the presence of ‘black’ people among their friends and family whilst excluding hostility towards Muslims as a marker of racism because being ‘Muslim’ is not a racial but a religious identifier. This construction of non-racism through the appeal to a narrow definition of race and racism is akin to a conservative rather than radical ‘post-race’ position which fails to recognise the continued impacts, and structural conditions and histories, of racisms.

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Loud and proud

Passion and politics in the English Defence League

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