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The school that tried to end racism where it didn’t exist


I RECENTLY watched the baffling and infuriating two-part Channel 4 documentary, ‘The school that tried to end racism’. From the trailer and the fact that it was being aired on Channel 4, I took a wild guess that there would be very little racism that needed eradicating in the school. Sure enough, from the very start C4 excelled in meeting my low expectations.

The show introduced us to a year seven group of multi-ethnic 11-year-olds who mixed freely and stated that they don’t care about ethnicity or skin colour and that they see everyone as equal. Nothing to see here, you might conclude, but as we were about to learn, not caring about skin colour is in itself a form of racism. Clearly, these little bigots were in need of some serious moral instruction to help them overcome the racism they couldn’t see in themselves.

The first step toward ‘ending racism’ among a multi-ethnic group of kids who rub along together very well is to bring in some critical race theorists from universities to instil in them how whitey is keeping everyone else down. Enter Dr Nicola Rollock and Professor Rhiannon Turner, who we were told are ‘experts in unconscious racial bias’. These two academics subjected the children to a test with unclear methodology, the results of which, surprise surprise, purportedly revealed that the children on the whole, regardless of their ethnicity, had an ‘unconscious bias’ in favour of white people.

The children were shocked to learn that they have an ‘unconscious bias’ towards white people. There they were, thinking they weren’t racists and that they were colour blind, while having no idea that subconsciously they were a bunch of Alf Garnetts and Uncle Toms in school blazers. However, the ‘experts’ explained that the concept of colour blindness championed by Dr Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement in the 1960s ‘is in itself a form of racism’. This is an abhorrent smear against a movement whose members were violently attacked by genuinely racist police and white supremacists, and who put their lives on the line to end racial segregation in the USA. Today’s ‘anti-racists’ are on Twitter complaining about microaggressions and there being too many white people in historically majority white countries.

As a soul music enthusiast, I’m shocked to learn that the 1977 song Color Blind by my favourite black American band Maze is a paean to white supremacy. It’s disturbing enough to learn that so many white people are walking around subconsciously sympathetic to the Ku Klux Klan, but to learn that your black heroes are complicit is really upsetting. Who knew that almost everyone in the UK and USA was racist apart from a tiny number of extreme Left academics whose livelihoods depend on redefining racism so they can then lead the campaign to end it?

We were introduced to another expert on racism, Mariama Richards, a ‘diversity and inclusion practitioner’ from the USA, who was brought into the school to assist in purging its hidden racism. The next exercise involved segregating the children into two ‘affinity groups’ to discuss their experiences of race. In one group we had all the white children and in the other were children from a variety of ethnic and religious minorities. One of the white pupils became upset at being racially segregated from his black and brown friends, which must have been a sign of his ‘white privilege’ – as one of the ‘experts’ later pointed out, whites aren’t used to being excluded. None of the ‘experts’ mentioned to the children of black African descent that Islam has a history of not treating black people very favourably, to put it mildly, or that non-white ethnicities have histories of conflict and imperialism between themselves. I suppose to do so might have diluted the ‘affinity’ within the group the ‘experts’ were aiming to instil with their ‘everything bad is because of white people’ narrative.

One of the mixed race pupils, Farrah, complained that she didn’t want to be defined by her race or colour but by her personality. She must be descended from Oswald Mosley on the white side of her family. A few more weeks with these ‘experts’, though, and she will see that judging people by their individuality only bolsters white supremacy. Later, the pupils from both ‘affinity’ groups were brought together to share an article or object from their own ethnic background. When a white English pupil showed the class the flag of St George, Professor Turner remarked, ‘When I see the St George’s flag I think of the BNP or National Front.’ This ‘expert’ on ‘unconscious biases’ seemed oblivious to the irony of lecturing the British people on racial bias while publicly displaying her own prejudices towards her own ethnic group who are the majority population in England.

Near the end of episode one, the children had a PE lesson like something from a Monty Python sketch where they managed to fuse exercise with Neo-Marxist critical race theory. The children were lined up as if to start a race. They were asked a series of questions and depending on the answer they had to take a step forward or back from the starting line. If their parents don’t speak English as their first language they took a step backwards. If they have ever been the only person from their ethnic background in a room they took a step backwards. If they were never asked where they come from, take a step forward. This last question implies that asking any ethnic minority person where they are from is a manifestation of your ‘unconscious biases’. It doesn’t matter if you meant locally or ancestrally. Being curious and politely interested in people’s heritage is now racist. Does this just apply to white people asking the question or can someone of Indian heritage ask a black person where they are from? The ‘experts’ didn’t make this clear as the focus of all these exercises was to learn how racist white people are. By this stage, I was getting very confused because only a few minutes earlier the ethnic minority kids were being encouraged to talk about their heritage and where they came from and the ‘experts’ weren’t referring to where they lived in Britain. Anyway, and I am sure you have guessed by now, when the whistle blew to start the race the white kids had an unfair advantage.

In episode two, we were shown another helpful activity to create racial harmony where no racial division exists by taking the pupils to a museum and pointing out how racist it is that the paintings from the nineteenth century, when Britain was almost exclusively white, have very little ethnic minority representation. This would be like accusing contemporary Japan of racism because their art and culture doesn’t reflect the lived experiences of the small number of western English language teachers who live there. I would have loved to have heard from the ‘experts’ why it is considered anti-racist to complain about a country being too white, but it’s racist to complain about it being too brown or black?

Personally, I couldn’t care less about skin colour or ethnicity and am more interested in common values with people. Ironically, today’s ‘anti-racists’ are the ones obsessed with skin colour, shouting ‘racist’ at everyone else. As the black American intellectual John McWhorter has pointed out, today’s ‘anti-racism’ is like a fundamentalist religion in many ways, with blasphemy laws for heretics and the original sin of white privilege. If we were in the sixties or seventies I would have been a staunch supporter of the civil rights movement in America and opposed the racist thugs in the National Front this side of the pond. However, today’s most vociferous ‘anti-racists’ are a fringe group of Neo-Marxist critical race theorist academics, activists and journalists who control most of the media and education system and are intent on dividing people according to race. There is something deeply warped about a mindset that views a multi-ethnic group of kids being educated together and friends with each other and thinks we need to teach them all about their ‘unconscious’ biases and their complicity in ‘white privilege’. Channel 4 should be disgusted to promote this racist, race-baiting garbage. Is the ‘conservative’ government going to stand idly by and allow this extremist ideology to spread throughout the education system?

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Andrew Devine
Andrew Devine
Andrew Devine is an Orwell Prize winning writer & blogger

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