Following recent government figures which revealed that white disadvantaged boys are the least likely to access higher education, a new analysis has found that fewer than 3% of students enrolled at Oxford and Cambridge are poor and white. A report from the National Education Opportunities Network (Neon) has shown that more than half of universities in England admit less than 5 per cent of white students from deprived areas. Neon have found that: “Young people in the poorest areas of the country are up to 16 times less likely to go onto higher education than young people in the wealthiest areas.” Read the full article here.
in this TES article. “With no BME leaders, how do we address the unconscious bias that we are instilling in all our students, of any ethnicity: that leaders are white, and for that matter, most often male and middle-class?” writes Steve Chalke, founder of Oasis, which runs 52 academies in England. “We are in a cycle of low aspirations; a cycle that will never eradicate racism and unconscious bias; a cycle that will never break the ceiling on career opportunities for BME teachers.”
Referring to the Swann Report of 1985, he asks: “Why, when everyone has recognised a critical issue for decades, can we not find a solution?” At a day conference for those involved in education on March 9 Chalke is launching a movement called ‘Break the Cycle’ to urgently address this issue. Read the full TES article here.
In a blatant example of selected reading of the Bible, a new exhibit at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., features an abridged version entitled ''Parts of the Holy Bible, Selected for the Use of the Negro Slaves'. It shows how Christian missionaries converted enslaved Africans to Christianity by teaching them the Gospel... except the parts about freedom, equality and resistance. Obviously they knew those parts were there!
The censored version removes 90% of the Old Testament and half of the New Testament. It has been described as: "the enslavers extended remix of the King James version of the Bible, leaving out all that unnecessary junk that might lead slaves to turn on their masters."
Read more here.
In this article in today's Independent, Deana Heath, senior lecturer in Indian and colonial history at the University of Liverpool argues that the school curriculum must stop whitewashing the British empire and start being honest about the subjugation and exploitation of millions of people.
Heath says his students come to him having been educated through a school history curriculum that focuses almost entirely on English political and religious history, and knowing “practically nothing about empire and its legacies – including in Britain. The histories they have studied and texts they have read were virtually all about or by white men, so they also know nothing about the history of women or the histories of people of colour, either.”
Referring to Jeremy Corbyn’s recent proposals that British school children should be taught about the history of the realities of British imperialism and colonialism, Heath says this would “begin to redress the phenomenal gulf between academic history and the English school curriculum.” Criticism of Corbyn's proposals from people such as Jacob Rees-Mog is based in a "state of denial about empire" and demonstrates “a profound ignorance about British imperial and colonial history, particularly about the impact of empire on not only the colonised but also the colonisers as well.”
Heath's students’ experience has been that being able to interrogate difficult histories, such as that of empire, has given them “a much better understanding of themselves and their place in the world”. Which is, surely, what education is supposed to do.
Read the full article here.
In a visit to Bristol this week Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said schools should teach children about colonialism, slavery and the legacy of the British empire, and give greater weight to the “immense contribution” black Britons have made. He also unveiled plans for an Emancipation Educational Trust, which would educate future generations about the impact of slavery and “tell the story of how slavery interrupted a rich African and black history”. Local civil rights activist Paul Stephenson, who played a central role in the Bristol bus boycott in 1963, should be as well known to British schoolchildren as Rosa Parks. Read more here and two opinion pieces here ("Corbyn's right") and here ("Thank you, Jeremy Corbyn – what you said about colonialism was spot on.").
An AQA GCSE sociology textbook that describes Caribbean men as "largely absent" from family situations has been withdrawn by the publisher. The main criticism is that this statement is made without any social or historical context.
Tamu Thomas from ‘Motherhood Reconstructed’ commented: ”I couldn't imagine what it would feel like if you were a black child, sitting in class and reading a statement like that. I do acknowledge that the number of families with absent fathers is higher in the black community, proportionally. But when something is put forward as fact like that without explaining the historical reasons why that might be the case, without any context, that's really dangerous. If we had an educational system that actually studied and analysed the black experience, including the impact of the slave trade and racism in society, it would be different.”
Read the full article on the BBC website.
In this article Paula Akpan laments the selective version of British history she was taught at her school. "...that I had to go looking for significant moments in black British history suggests to me that I had been kept ignorant." In school she learned about the US Civil Rights Movement, Dr Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, and found herself wishing for such movements and heroes in her own country. This focus on racial tensions and struggles elsewhere "relieves this country of accountability".
Akan says she and many others have had to discover the history of black people in the UK for themselves through social media, discovering books such as Reni Eddo-Lodge’s Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race and David Olusoga’s Black and British: A Forgotten History. Olusoga traces this history back to Roman times, confronting the idea that black people only came here in the 50s, and states: “The denial and avowal of black British history, even in the face of mounting documentary and archaeological evidence, is not just a consequence of racism but a feature of racism.”
Read the full article here.
Dr Robert Beckford is delivering a lecture "Is God a white racist? 'Woking' Gospel music in Britain" at Manchester Metropolitan University on Wednesday October 10, 5-6:45pm.
"How might we meaningfully reflect on the church’s complicity with racial terror in the Caribbean? And what is the role of British gospel music in articulating the memory of slavery, its continued impact and its overcoming? Entangling ideas from theodicy (the problem of evil), pentecostal epistemes (prayer, singing) and Christina Sharpe’s “In the Wake: On Blackness and Being” (creative and critical cultural production) this practice-based presentation explores the sources for a new urban ’social gospel music’ genre."
Admission by ticket only. Book here. Part of Black History Month 2018.
This Guardian article from 2015 outlines a walking tour of key sites of Manchester's radical history. This of course includes 'Peterloo' in 1819 where sword-wielding cavalry charged into a defenceless crowd who had gathered to call for parliamentary reform, leaving 15 dead and more than 600 injured. Several of the speakers were also involved in the fight to abolish slavery, one of a number of parallels in Manchester's history. “It was the largest crowd ever gathered at that point in British history,” says radical historian Michael Herbert. “The sight of the British army attacking its own people was unusual, almost unprecedented. It was a really shocking event with reverberations that went on throughout the nineteenth century.”
Those reverberations can still be felt and echoes of Peterloo can be heard today. As Herbert has said more recently, the event: "was about political reform as a response to hunger, unemployment and poverty, which has inescapable parallels with food bank Britain in 2017." Peterloo has been described elsewhere as "a war on the emerging working class movement".
With Peterloo's 200th Anniversary coming up on 16 August 2019, this walking tour would be a good way to familiarise yourself with Manchester's history of political protest and campaigning for economic and social justice. An extra stop to find out more about Peterloo and other significant events would be the People's History Museum (on the map on Bridge Street to the West of point D).
The Government’s Race Disparity Audit, published yesterday along with an Ethnicity Facts and Figures website has revealed significant differences in the life outcomes of British ethnic minority and white people. The report reveals that Black, Asian and minority ethnic people are twice as likely to be unemployed than white British adults and that white British pupils on free school meals perform worse in school than any other group. The Equality and Human Rights Commission welcomed the report saying that "focused action" was now needed. Others have pointed out that many of these statistics were already common knowledge – see for example MJR's research into educational attainment – and "decades of reports" and talking needed to become action. Kimberley Macintosh of the Runnymede Trust commented: "With the Race Disparity Audit bringing injustice and inequality out of obscurity and into the mainstream – raw and exposed – it’s time to act." The Runnymede Trust have also just published a report showing that austerity is hitting Black and Asian women the hardest.
Read more from the Guardian and Independent. Download the Race Disparity Audit and visit the website.
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