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‘When Black lives matter all lives will matter’ Part 2: forging new alliances

Blog Editor, IOE Digital23 September 2020

Ann Phoenix, Afiya Amesu, Issy Naylor and Kafi Zafar – a teacher and three students discuss the BLM movement in their second blog.

The scrutiny of racism that Black Lives Matter has produced raises questions of commonalities and differences in experiences of racism across groups. One consequence is that Asian people have found themselves remembering the pain of being subjected to implicit and overt racism. One example is learning that others thought there was something inherently wrong with darker skin through being asked at age five years, “why is your skin black?” before having any concept of race, ethnicity, or skin colour.

Fons Americanus by Kara Walker, displayed in the Tate Modern Turbine Hall. Photo by Les Hutchinson via Creative Commons

Part of the complexity ingrained in everyday racist practices is that it is not simply between those who are white and those who are ‘other’. Instead, South Asian children learn early that, not only is there a great deal of racism and casteism towards South Asians, but also within their own South Asian communities. Comments from elders range from complaints of becoming too tanned in the summer, and darker skin ruining marriage prospects for young girls, to offhand remarks about how beautiful a baby is for no other reason than their fair complexion. This is, arguably, as destructive as external racism since it tears South Asians apart from the inside. This colourism is now recognised to be one face of racism that has gained strong footholds because of histories of enslavement and colonialism. It highlights the importance of recognising what Avtar Brah, in the 1990s, called ‘differential racisms’.

Increasingly, young British Asians are fighting against these ideologies through not only embracing their own dark skin, but also breaking down the stereotypes and stigma (more…)

‘When Black Lives Matter All Lives Will Matter’

Blog Editor, IOE Digital22 September 2020

 

Ann Phoenix, Afiya Amesu, Issy Naylor and Kafi Zafar – a teacher and three students discuss the BLM movement in a two-part blog.

The publicity following the death of George Floyd after the white policeman Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck galvanised support for the Black Lives Matter movement. BLM and the attention it has garnered over the last few months has thrown light on the ongoing discrimination and systemic racism that black people continue to face.

Alongside the unprecedented global protests against racism, there seems a new appetite to understand the specificities and ubiquity of anti-black racism and its subtle, every-day materialisations as well as its murderous manifestations. That quest for understanding has seen an extraordinary outpouring of testimonies from black and mixed-parentage people, telling stories of events and day to day experiences that have generally been reserved for insider conversations on microaggressions and discrimination.

It is evident in institutions such as the media and universities that both like to see themselves as progressive but are repeatedly shown to reproduce social inequalities. A crucial (more…)

How Covid-19 led to an increase in hate crimes towards Chinese people in London

Blog Editor, IOE Digital16 September 2020

Chelsea Gray and Kirstine Hansen.

New research shows that the well-publicised case of a student who was attacked in London’s Oxford Street in February was not an isolated incident. Our study shows that in the months after Covid-19 first emerged the probability of being a victim of hate crime increased fourfold for Chinese people across the whole of the London Metropolitan area, even after controlling for other factors that might affect hate crimes over that period.

The findings showed that the probability of being a victim of hate crime for a Chinese person in London rose from around 3-4 percent prior to Covid-19, to 10 percent in February 2020 and to around 16 percent in March 2020.

Our research identified no increase in hate crimes after Covid-19 for any other ethnic group nor for other (non-hate) crimes against Chinese people, nor in any other time period we considered. To get our results we used data from the Metropolitan Police for the whole of the Metropolitan area of London.

Covid-19 came as an unexpected shock that dramatically altered the situation for Chinese people living in London. Because Covid-19 is believed to have originated in China, they (more…)

What food-insecure children want you to know about hunger

Blog Editor, IOE Digital15 September 2020

Rebecca O’Connell, and Julia Brannen.

Footballer and food poverty campaigner Marcus Rashford has rebuked Conservative MP Kevin Hollinrake on Twitter for suggesting that parents who need help to feed their children are failing in their responsibilities.

Children growing up in poverty today recognise it is their parents’ duty to make sure they are fed adequately. But, like Rashford, whose family struggled with food security when he was a child, they know from experience that parents cannot always fulfil this obligation. In this context, they argue, government and others have a responsibility to act.

Children speak out about hunger

We know this because we have asked children about this exact issue as part of our research into food poverty. In a European study of low-income families, we asked young people between 11 and 16 years old who they consider to be responsible for making sure children have access to enough decent food. Most children argued that parents, government and organisations like schools should work together to achieve this. Phoebe, age 16, whose father had lost his job in the local authority, said:

If a family is unable to provide food then I think it’s up to schools and government to kind of make that up, if there is really nothing that they can do. So free school meals and fruit at break I think is really important. I think it’s really important that there is enough money for schools to be able to provide free school meals, breakfast club and fruit and stuff like that.

However, attributing responsibility to those in power did not mean children exempted parents from taking responsibility. On the contrary, several young people talked about the (more…)

History in the unmaking: how the government department that brought the Windrush scandal downplays slavery in its citizenship handbook

Blog Editor, IOE Digital28 July 2020

Arthur Chapman.

July 21 this year was a day of historical reckoning, of sorts, for the British government’s Home Office.

On the one hand, the Home Secretary apologized for the ‘unspeakable’ treatment of members of the ‘Windrush generation’ at the hands of her department and promised ‘a genuine cultural shift’ including ‘mandatory training for Home Office staff on the history of migration and race in the UK.’ On the other hand, the Historical Association posted an open letter signed by 175 historians, protesting about the distortion of British Caribbean and imperial history in the Home Office’s official ‘textbook’ for those taking the UK Citizenship Test, Life in the United Kingdom: A guide for New Residents.

As the historians rightly contend the 2013 edition, still currently in use, is ‘fundamentally misleading and in places demonstrably false’ in its representation of the history of slavery, the slave trade and decolonisation. The narrative, they argue, is not only factually inaccurate, it is also selective and written in a way that obscures the agency of the enslaved and the colonised in the developments it narrates. The text, they conclude, ‘perpetuates a misleading view of how we came to be who we are.’

The old Customs House, Lancaster, built in 1764. Lancaster was the fourth largest slave trading port in Britain in the 18th century

This is no trivial matter. The booklet is published by a department of state (the Home Office), commissioned by ministers, and used in a state-mandated test (more…)

Whose history will my mixed-race daughter be taught?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital1 July 2020

Meena Khatwa.

‘We are here because you were there’ (A. Sivanandan).

Windrush protest

Whenever I deliver a lecture on slavery, the British Empire or migration, I always begin with this simple yet powerful quote. It immediately grabs the students’ attention, and they begin to understand centuries of brutal colonial history, laid bare in those words.

I’m a British Asian, born in Slough, in 1973. Like other Asian families at that time, I lived with my extended migrant family. Our house of ten resembled Piccadilly Circus. Every morning each family member bustled to their low-paid manual jobs.

The events that led them to the UK were shaped by the history of British colonialism. My grandparents fled Karachi during the Partition in 1947 and, for a few years, were refugees in a newly-formed India. They then moved to Kenya, but had to flee again after it gained independence in 1963, which brought them to the UK and to Slough. My PhD research captured similar stories. These families were identified as ‘twice migrants’ and – perhaps surprisingly – this upheaval resulted in slightly better assimilation because they had already experienced resettlement from India to Africa.

Slough was an interesting place to grow up, a social experiment in collisions of culture and traditions. I attended St Mary’s CE primary school, singing (more…)

If COVID-19 is here to stay, how will it affect our mental health and trust in others?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital9 June 2020

Keri Wong.

As lockdown eases in the UK, many people are populating the parks and the outdoors. The latest government advice for England told us to ‘stay alert’, to practice ‘social distancing’ and to be vigilant. This heightened alertness combined with accumulating uncertainties around COVID-19 are stressful. In fact, living with stress for long periods of time can take a toll on people’s mental health.

The question then is: If COVID-19 is here to stay, what can we learn about people’s mental wellbeing now so we can help them later?

(more…)

Political engagement shouldn’t be a question of class. A new project is examining the gap and what to do about it

Blog Editor, IOE Digital4 June 2020

Jan Germen Janmaat.

Social mobility is a widely shared ideal in practically all western countries: your family background should not matter for your education, your professional career and for where you end up in life. Consequently, social mobility has been a key concern of social scientists for decades – an interest reignited by the way the Covid crisis is fuelling inequalities in health, education, and the labour market.

Far fewer academics have been interested in the influence of family background on political engagement – i.e. interest in politics and the desire to participate in it. This is surprising as a lack of inter-generational ‘political’ mobility is likely to be as detrimental to social cohesion as a rigid class society. Democratically-elected governments are more incentivised to serve the interests of those who vote than those who are politically disengaged.  Since middle class people have higher levels of political engagement, this may contribute to a vicious circle in which people from disadvantaged backgrounds withdraw their support for democracy altogether. In other words, the passing down of disengagement across generatations may lead to a permanent and alienated ‘political’ underclass.

This is why the Nuffield Foundation has funded our project, entitled “Post-16 Educational Trajectories and Social Inequalities in Political Engagement” (April 2020 to September 2021), which aims to investigate: (more…)

Social capital: in the days of Covid-19, good neighbours keep their distance

Blog Editor, IOE Digital18 May 2020

 

Francesca Borgonovi and Elodie Andrieu.

In Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam illustrated the decline of social capital in the United States and traced it to changes in how individuals spend time at work, family and leisure – alone. According to Putnam, when people bowl alone (it was always such a sociable sport), community spirit is lacking and individuals in these communities suffer.

Although close physical social relationships allow Covid-19 to spread, ‘social capital’ – the resources and benefits people receive through their connections with others – may be significant in determining if and to what extent communities implement behavioural changes aimed at halting the spread of the virus. This is crucial, because in the absence of vaccines or effective drugs to treat Covid-19, public health measures have been directed at preventing SARS-CoV-2 contagion by reducing interpersonal physical contact and by promoting the use of protective measures when such contact occurs.

Those with high levels of social capital tend to be ‘good citizens’, active in their communities, helping neighbours, voting. Our research is providing early evidence on (more…)

‘Kids are speaking out but still adults don’t take us seriously’: children show the way on rights and the future

Blog Editor, IOE Digital20 November 2019

By youth activists Isabelle Mathews and Sivitha Sivakumar and members of the Eco-club of Manchester Enterprise Academy Central with Claire Cameron (IOE)

20 November 2019 is the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. What does this landmark framework for global and local children’s rights mean to young people themselves?

At UCL we brought together young people, activists, researchers and policymakers to debate the the future outlook and current state of children’s rights and participation in matters of importance to them.

(more…)