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Race vs.

Class in Contemporary Britain The setting of the book, Buddha of Suburbia, places the main character, Karim, in a whirlwind period. The long history of racism in Britain is evolving as the society moves towards political correctness. Throughout the book, Karim undergoes various forms of hardship because of his ethnicity. However, in this society, as in many, race is very much tied to class. Karim at times hopes to embrace the Englishman in him, but he is unable to because of his Indian ethnic background. During this particular time in British society, class is just beginning to overtake race as a measure of social standing. That is to say, Britons were at a rift between embracing multiculturalism and disdaining it. However, it is now apparent that the former prevailed. At one point, Jamila says to Karim, And clichs about Indians. And the accent my God, how could you do it? I expect youre ashamed, arent youActually, youve got no morality, have you? Youll get it later, I expect, when you can afford it. (Kureishi, 157) This quotation expresses the strong link between race and class. Immigrants are forced to reduce themselves to forms of employment that many would find disgraceful because of their class not their race. However, this consequence of their class subsequently stereotypes their race. Karims acting career, which involves playing the part of a stereotypical Indian in this situation, resembles Haroons choice to pretend to be the Indian Buddhist stereotype back in the suburbs. Though it seems that they place themselves in these positions, it is not direct. For Haroon, playing the part of the Buddhist is actually the most successful position he can attain based on his given his race, class, and skills. Likewise for Karim, acting the part of the Indian offers him the greatest economic return, even if it requires that he distance himself from assimilating into English society. Class proves to dominate race though as time is allowed to pass. Various ethnic groups are able to integrate themselves into British society as time goes on, even if they must distance themselves first. At the time in the book, racism is beginning its rapid dissipation (even if there are some Enoch Powell followers present). As racism fades, class becomes more important in the society, until ethnicity becomes an afterthought.