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Everyone’s a racist! Oh, wait a minute…

RACISM is everywhere, or so you would believe if you listened to the authoritative voices echoing around our institutions, not least of all our educational institutions. The arguments justifying this understanding of ‘racist Scotland’ often ring hollow, but then we get the statistics that appear to prove the point.

Reading an article by Rohit Rao, an ‘anti-racism youth worker specialising in employability’, we can find these two dimensions to the ‘anti-racist’ rhetoric. For example, Rao talks about the first ‘Empire Day’ that ‘took place in British classrooms 121 years ago’ and embodied ideas of racial inferiority. But then, in the next sentence, he unconvincingly jumps to today and explains that:

‘As a researcher into structural racism in Scottish schools I have been observing what this process has done to the generations originating from those colonised nations. Black students are still made to feel themselves to be inferior and less intelligent, and are often regarded as more criminal in the eyes of peers and those in authority.’

A seamless link is created by Rao between what happened in schools 121 years ago and today, as if in the years in between there has been no change, development or progress in the way we relate to black students – a seamless link that appears to lack any serious attempt to understand either history or the world we live in now.

Rao then gives us the statistics, however, and explains that given this racist state of affairs, it ‘perhaps comes as little surprise therefore that there is a near 12 percentage point gap between White and non-White unemployment rates in Scotland, as of 2021’.

Rao is right about the statistic, but if you bother to read the Scottish government report where this figure comes from, you will find something quite interesting. There it is explained that the ‘ethnicity employment rate gap for women was estimated at 23.1 [percentage points]’, while ‘the gap for men was estimated at –1.5 [percentage points]’.

In other words, non-white men have a better employment rate than that of white men in Scotland.

One would think that this may be a cause for celebration, perhaps even a statistic that would be heralded by our politicians as showing that Scotland is in fact far less racist than we may think.

Looking at these figures, it would seem that the issue is not race at all, but rather, sex: it is ethnic minority women who lag far behind in employment. Why might this be? We don’t know for sure, but it may be that for some non-white groups, more traditional and family-based ways of living have an impact on employment for women, and consequently, racism and ideas of racial ‘inferiority’ have little or perhaps nothing at all to do the 12-percent figure cited by Rao.

Rao goes on to note that only 1.6 percent of teachers are non-white. Given that 4.5 percent of the Scottish population are from ethnic minorities, this again appears to prove his point. But again he has ignored the impact of sex differences, and given the fact that 89 percent of Scottish primary school teachers and 65 percent of secondary school teachers are female, perhaps we can again partly explain this statistic more in terms of ethnic minority women’s low employment rate – rather than this being to do with a supposedly racist education system. There may be other cultural factors that explain the smaller percentage of ethnic minority teachers that could well have nothing to do with an imagined racist education sector – a sector I work in and arguably one of the least racist places imaginable.

Unfortunately, the reality appears to be that our educationalists and race ‘experts’ will use statistics to fit into their pre-existing ideological belief that Scottish children and parents are racists and need to be made aware of this fact. In the process, new educational tools are developed, like this one, which has been produced by Scotdec and funded by the Scottish Government.

Here we find a document developed through critical race theory, an ideological framework that many see as being divisive and racist, and once again we find that education turns into a form of political indoctrination, where white pupils are looked down on as embodying ‘white fragility’, and black students are separated off and represented as victims who need extra care.

In the process of developing this new form of ‘anti-racism’, the imagined structural or ‘systemic’ racism of Scottish school children is then addressed through the protection racket of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), and the behaviour, language and values of pupils (and their parents) are made the focus of attention. Additionally, we find that teachers across the UK face potential disciplinary proceedings – or even the sack – if they question aspects of this ‘anti-racist’ education.

What starts out as a seemingly progressive and tolerant approach to education ends up as a new ‘caring’ type of authoritarianism, where only one view – the view that white children and parents are inherently racist – is taught as fact. Teaching contentious political ideologies as fact to children breaks a basic standard of education, and once again, we find that the Scottish Government could be breaking the law by transforming schools from places of education to centres of indoctrination.

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This article first appeared in the Scottish Union for Education newsletter, you can subscribe here.

Image by 14995841 from Pixabay


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