What We’ve Been Up To
On Thursday evening, DDU hosted a successful event, ‘Is the UK systemically racist?’, in the context of the recent Runnymede Trust CERD report. Chaired by Professor Doug Stokes, the panellists included DDU founding signatories Dr Rakib Ehsan, Ike Ijeh and Alka Sehgal-Cuthbert, and Sewell (CRED) report co-opted member Kunle Olulode. The speakers’ introductions and responses to the participants’ great questions helped us better understand the CERD report, and develop a critique of the concept of ‘systemic racism’. The video of the event will soon be published on the event page.
This week DDU hosted its second Parents’ Group meeting, which went off well, and by the time you read this, our inaugural Brighton meeting, convened by DDU supporter Adrian Hart, will be underway and will, no doubt, be lively.
On Saturday 31st July, DDU is partnering with the Battle of Ideas’ Open For Debate festival in London, and DDU’s Alka Sehgal-Cuthbert will be chairing a session What does the Sewell Report mean for education? with speakers including University of Buckingham vice chancellor James Tooley. Tickets for the festival are still available.
Robin DiAngelo, author of White Fragility has another book to promote and her work on “lessening racial harm” doesn’t extend to allowing a critical black man, in this case John McWhorter, a place to disagree with her. “Deeply frustrated that people couldn’t think critically about the perspective and agenda of that particular critique,” she says. “Unfortunately, there were white people who were new to the work and saw a black man say this. I’ve had to consistently answer to it. It was heart-breaking to suggest I would increase racial harm when my life’s work is committed to lessening racial harm.” Back in the box to which she has assigned you, please, Professor McWhorter. How dare you question a white saviour?
In the week that Baroness Falkner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (ECHC) has said that the concept of ‘white privilege’ is divisive, Oriel College’s only African professor, Dr Marie Kawthar Daouda, has described the Oxford dons who posture endlessly about the Rhodes statue as “throwing tantrums”. Following on from this, Sam Akaki, Chief Executive of African Solutions to African Migration wrote to the Daily Telegraph on 21st July that “Sadly, Oxford dons who are ‘throwing tantrums’ over statues are unaccountably silent on the genocide in Tigray”. They are also deafeningly silent on modern and historic slavery in Africa and on the terror and tyranny of such outfits as Boko Harem and ISIS.
EHRC chairwoman Baroness Falkner of Margravine has also said in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph that young people are better off learning about civic rights than worrying about the “innate advantages” of other groups of their peers.
At last, ‘Dead White Men’ may be resurrected in education. Speaking at the Social Market Foundation think tank, Schools minister Nick Gibb said “we should not be ashamed of who we are and where we came from”, reports the Daily Mail, noting, “There is no reason why the work of a ‘dead white man’ is not appropriate for children from ethnic minorities to learn about”. The discussion was prompted by the movement against GCSEs which has emerged during lockdown with the cancellation of exams last summer. “We cannot rewrite our history or undo our past mistakes. We should tell the full and true story of who we are and what, as a country, we have done; right and wrong” added Gibb, “and, by doing so, we can build a broad and accepted understanding of the country and create a common sense of belonging and shared history”.
As one contributor at our public discussion noted, when Trinidadian historian and writer CLR James came to London before WW2 he found that, based on his colonial education, he was more familiar with the literature of Dead White Men than the members of the oh-so-literary Bloomsbury Group – and he teased them for their ignorance.
Dummy of the Week award goes to Bedfordshire Police for deciding that a bloke who whistled Bob the Builder at his neighbour deserved a hate crime record. It was a hard-fought contest this week with the runner-up badge going to the City of York Council, which decided that holders of blue badges could not be included in a discussion on blue badges, and to those at Leeds City Council who have decided that Yorkshire parkin (a ginger and treacle cake) must be purged of its colonial roots. Interesting that they don’t seem bothered by the fact that ginger, sugar and tea were all farmed and traded for centuries in the Far East, using slave labour! It gives a whole new meaning to the expression, nutty as a fruitcake – Yorkshire variety of course!
This coming week we have a regular Monday meeting (July 26th), which will be the last meeting before summer (semi) break, and meetings will resume in the autumn (September 6th) – drop us a line if you would like to take part.
A pre-term start Educators Group meeting will be held for teachers on Tuesday August 31st at 10am. Details to be circulated nearer the time.
Parents’ meetings will continue through August, and the next one will be on Wednesday August 4th at 10am. Details to be circulated nearer the time.
Wishing you all a very happy summer – whether near or far!