Halima Begum, The CEO of the Runnymede Trust popped up in my linkedin feed the other day. I was taking a break from university coursework and decided it might be a good idea to see what was going on in the professional world. After all, it won't be long before I'm leaving University and away (again) into the world of work, something I'm actually looking forward to after a long period of student life.
Unfortunately, all everyone can seem to talk about is racism or sexism these days but occassionally, there is a good connection - like the other day, when I noticed how a university colleague could help with my project and subsequently, we've been able to arrange for a virtual meeting. I won't reveal to much at the moment but it is my hope that the meeting will lead to a defining moment in Parentull's history and see a new pathway develop for the project.
In any case, Mrs. Begum popped up with the following post:
I decided to give the OpEd a read, after all, Mrs. Begum is a BAME woman in a position of power and authority with presumably all the academic and merit to concisely shut down the report, so it was bound to be a facisating read.... following which I posted a comment under Mrs. Begum's post questioning how her article lacked evidence and raising points about how certain elements of her proposals wouldn't work. This wasn't malicous, I've done this to people before and had good debates. In fact, I'm due to meet a person I've debated via Linkedin for coffee as soon as we're legally allowed.
Unfortunately, I logged in to LinkedIn and noticed that instead of trying to debate my points, she had simply deleted my comment - so I've written something she can't delete. I'm not a big fan of censorship, as the University of Hull found out when it tried to tell me it would police my social media during my period there as a student; but I'm even less of a fan of people who try to dictate public life and policy without being able to backup their claims. In the UK, we have a very long running principle of freedom of thought, expression and speech and as much as I do not like elements of what Mrs. Begum & her colleagues might be saying, I wouldn't ever wish it censored or deleted; on the contrary, I'm glad they're expressing their views so that we can debate and discuss as part of a democratic society. If Mrs. Begum ever reads this, she should look into Harry Miller v The College of Policing & Humberside Police for the precedent of Freedom of Speech in Britain.
So, let's look over the OpEd, The Report as well as what other people are saying and get to the bottom of this.
The very first Title line of Mrs. Begum's OpEd says "A government-commissioned report says Britain is now free from institutional racism. It just shows how far we have to go." can be easily disproven by reading just the introduction of the report where it states, in the third paragraph, on page 9: "we do not believe that the UK is yet a post-racial society which has completed the long journey to equality of opportunity. And we know, too many of us from personal experience, that prejudice and discrimination can still cast a shadow over lives. Outright racism still exists in the UK, whether it surfaces as graffiti on someone’s business, violence in the street, or prejudice in the labour market. It can cause a unique and indelible pain for the individual affected and has no place in any civilised society."
Further down on the same page, it says "Yes, there are still some ‘snowy white peaks’ at the very top of the private and public sectors, and not all of that can be accounted for by the fact that members of the ethnic minorities have not, by definition, been embedded in the country’s human networks and institutions for as long as the White majority."; hardly stating that Britain is free of institutional racism but an endorsement of the fact that Britain has transended from a past of discrimination to one of the most diverse and mixed societies on the planet. It's also an acknowledgement that this country is a white majority country, so naturally white people will make up a majority of positions; in the same way that black people make up the majority in Africa.
Further through the report, there is a very balanced view taken the present ills in society are because communities, families and trust are broken. This is of course understandable, we are in a time period where many people are less religous, and whilst I don't advocate any religion/spirituality, it certainly played a role in bringing communities together and enforcing social and moral guidelines; without which society has liberalised on almost every front, especially sexuality, resulting, again, as the report and indeed ONS data on family court statistics points out, a rise in single mothers and very broken families - why else would over 200,000 families, including my own, be going to court regarding child contact over the last decade?
There are of course a myriad of other issues which could be considered, for instance, white communities are breaking down as well; I've seen bubbling anger from White communities towards BAME communities as well which might play a part in the trust issues; I think a big part of such issues are scandles like Rotherham where young white girls were ignored by authorities as they were raped by BAME men; or perhaps more recently where a teacher has had to go into hiding whilst being told he might end up like the be-headed teacher in France.
I'm sure jokes could be made about both situations, after all, the irony hasn't escaped me that France is home of the guilletine or that past British generations 'raped' other countries; but the fact is, if we're to progress, such transgressions must be stamped out by the BAME communities and those responsible held to account.
Of course, Mrs. Begums OpEd didn't address or acknowledge any of that and I don't believe she had any intent to do so either. She claims "This week was supposed to be a seminal day for race relations in the UK." followed up by what can only be read as a sort of sneery, over drinks jibe.... "Except it never was. And truth be told, it was never going to be."; you know, kind of like "well, he was never any good at his job anyway, and truth be told, I'm glad he got fired!".
Does that kind of attitude sound like a person who is ready to read a several hundred page report and come to any other conclusion other than that which she has already reached? It doesn't to me; it also sounds very much like minds were made up well in advance and that perhaps there were some sour grapes about not being selected, for the 90% BAME, committee.
Naturally, if one was to delve deeper into Mrs. Begum's attitudes we might look at another OpEd which Mrs. Begum wrote entitled "OPINION: The UK's art cirriculum is too white. We want to change it" in which she reveals an experience about when she was younger, quoted below.
"The National Front, a fascist political party, had a newspaper stand outside the street door that led to our squat. To get to school often required running the gauntlet of invective and physical blows that our identity provoked in the men peddling racial hatred outside our home. My mother would clutch us close to the sapphire folds of her saree, and only on reaching the school gates did we feel truly safe." - Halima Begum on her experience in the 1980s, some 40 years ago.
That experience is harrowing and as a child would have influenced Mrs. Begums thinking about white people, British culture and Britain in general. Could it be concluded from that experience, that Mrs. Begum has unconscious bias against White People or is perhaps just oververtly opposed to what she sees as White British culture?
To quote the Race Report "Unconscious bias is a form of ‘fast thinking’ – those quick decisions we make without realising and are no doubt connected to particular values or world views that are hard-wired into our minds. Such bias is commonplace because it is reflexive and automatic. It is also laced with preferences and prejudices based on our upbringing and family and social backgrounds", if such unconscious biases do exist for Mrs. Begum as a result of her childhood experience. Is it really her place to question the cirriculum or use those biases against white culture?
I would argue it is not Begum's place because Britain is extremely diverse and much of the culture has changed since the 1980s, one only has to look at music, cuisine, architecture, clothing and programming; that said, as I mentioned previously, there are still strides to be made regards being able to question each others cultures. I would be more willing to accept questioning of white culture if questioning and critical analysis of Islam and other BAME culture/religions was not labelled racist, for example.
As I also pointed out in my now deleted comment, many of the wealthiest people in Britain are from BAME backgrounds. According to the Tatlor Eligible Bachelors list for 2019, there were 3 BAME Eligible Bachelors, including an up and coming England Rugby Captain and the son of BooHoo and PrettyLittleThing founder. Not listed, and probably not all bachelors or bachelorettes but still good candidates of BAME success, are of course, JME (Serious, 2007), Skepta (Nasty, 2015) Stormzy, KSI, Lenny Henry, Anne-Marie Imafidon (Check out this video, posted in January where Anne-Marie talks about her success), Eunice Olumide, Priti Patel, Sajid Javid, Ivan Menezes, Rakesh Kapoor, Edward Enninful, Prof Max Lu, Sharon White. Naturally, I could go on and on.. but there just isn't space or time; but I think I've made my point that all of these success stories show that Britain isn't a national front filled racist cesspool which needs its cirriculum injected with bias.
Indeed, it is ironic that those who are trying to tackle race issues and claim they are "anti-racist" actually enable racism and discrimination against white people/culture. I'd argue such commentors, normally high profile BAME anti-racist types who self-proclaim themselves as role models, are part of the reason the mainstream media felt comfortable labelling pensioners and disabled people "far right" when they went to guard statues from young people destroying public property. I sat and watched the news feeds as Black Lives matter got easy interviews and pats on the back for taking a stand against 'racism', whilst simultaneously, any counter protest, whether full of pensioners, disabled people, veterans, couples and children or football hooligans was tooted as far right, racist thuggery and mocked. Likewise, when Black Lives Matter activists and supporters mobilised to run toppletheracists.org via a site setup by these well connected, powerful, educated elites to further political agendas, not one media organisation questioned the connection, whether there was a conflict of interest or why people who stood to gain from race baiting were stoking the flames of racial tension.
The legitimacy of either protest is irrelevant, it's the double standard which matters; because racism is a double standard. "No dogs, No Irish, No Blacks" was a double standard and discriminatory; by allowing the narrative to swing towards White people we don't achieve equality, what we acheive is the reverse of the same discrimination and racism that the BAME communities decry. I'm not sure what part of that isn't clear.
There's a growing sentiment across a large swath of the white population because of the type of rhetoric Mrs. Begum and her colleagues enable, whether through her OpEd or through the 'Anti-Racist' cultology; at first, I thought this sentiment was limited to the white working class, but I had the opportunity to visit a middle-upper class friend and talk people in their circle and the same types of sentiment was found and it is as follows: We are under attack. British culture is under attack. We need to fight back. Through my time at the University of Hull, I've also had the opportunity to speak to BAME students and when we've spoken about race, it's easy to see why there's a disconnect - these young people feel entitled to dismiss their white peers, whether valid or not. The 'reverse' racist attitude is already engrained.
The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities Report addressed that very issue. It said "We have spoken in this report about how the UK is open to all its communities. But we are acutely aware that the door may be only half open to some, including the White working class"; and that is true. A working class white family pitted against a middle class black family will face the same issues as a working class black family pitted against a middle class white family. That's not racism. That's economic advantage - nothing to do with white people, black people or any other race.
Further in the OpEd, Mrs. Begum states "A young Black mother is four times more likely to die in childbirth than her white friend. A young Black man is 19 times more likely to be stopped and searched by the Met than his young white neighbour".
Neither claim is backed up by statistics, references or explanations of how these are racist. The same claims were posted on Mrs. Begums Linkedin, no stats, or facts, just emotive imagery.
I'm not sure how white women dying less in child birth is racist and it certainly won't make sense to the average person if no evidence can be presented. Likewise, although I don't and cannot know the context of a young black boys exclusion from school, Mrs. Begum wants me to believe that this is because "racism" but the commission crunched the ONS statistics and found that "Ethnic minority people are more likely to be victims of crime and specifically victims of violent crime and homicide. For the average of the 10 years from 2009 to 2019, 16 to 24 year old Black people were 11 times more likely than their White counterparts to be a victim of homicide".
Look at the age range. 16 to 24. It would be fair to say that one doesn't just wake up on ones 16th birthday and develop a violent streak. If Young Black Boys are being excluded from school, it is likely that these problems are emerging earlier. Possibly as a result of the other underlying issues which were mentioned in the report, like the breakdown of communities and family units which enforce social and moral behaviour boundaries.
The report goes on to say "Between March 2018 and March 2020, for White, Black and Asian homicide victims, the principal suspect in the case was more likely to be the same ethnicity." so there isn't an angle for this violence being race related, because it's directed at the same race.
The report concludes on this matter that "83% of cases with White homicide victims had a principal suspect that was also White and 80% of homicide cases with a Black victim had a Black principal suspect (in a total of 99 homicides" ergo: no racism. Black community issue.
Those statistics may also go some way to explaining the need for more stop and search, especially in places like London; but Mrs. Begum suggests in her OpEd that stop and search measures on Black and ethnic minority young people are "excessive"; never mind the statistics from the official police website which states of the 2013/14 period: "In 2013/14, a total of 332,036 recorded stop and accounts were carried out across the force. Of these: 205,678 were of whites, 50,389 were of blacks, 48,256 were of Asians"; therefore it would take stopping at least another 2x more BAME people to reach the amount of whites stopped.
Of course, Begum isn't the only one who has backed themselves into a corner with this race baiting, take Dr Shola Mos-Shogbamimu's article for iNews entitled "The race report is reductive and narrow-minded – it’s white supremacy personified" which couldn't even wait to get past the headline before throwing around skin pigmentation and bigotry before the Dr Mos-Shogbamimu goes onto make no notable points which undermine the report but does in fact peddle her book and try to discredit Tony Sewell personally for not agreeing with 'Anti-Racism' ideology which very much reminds me of Bidens "if you don't vote for me, you ain't black" meme.
Further still, BAME Peers and other middle class people, people who it could be argued suffer from the same sort of "White Saviour" syndrome where racism is concerned, because if white people want to go on a poverty trip to Africa, these people definitely want a race row so they can rush to the rescue; took to LinkedIn to sneer at the report and offer no sympathy for fellow BAME members, remember the report was composed of a comittee that was 90% BAME, following the 'backlash'. How is that productive or condusive of forward thinking, evidence based debate?
All in all, what I've read of the report was actually equal and fair minded. The types of arguments presented by the people mentoned above pit racial groups against each other in a victim mentality. As one former black panther in the united states accrucately described it - "they want black people to believe white people need to treat their animals better, they want you to believe you're being mistreated" but that doesn't work in the real world because we're equal and compete fairly; it's a sad reality that these people need to race bait in order to keep their pockets lined.
That's the real issue, and it's quite sad because a few decades ago, that was a very 'white' thing to do.