Anti Racism Vs Representation

This is a summer post, I know I was going to let people catch up with reading over the summer. I’m writing this after the announcement that Boris Johnson has become the UK’s new prime minister and he has included a Hindu, a Muslim and a Jew into the great offices of state.

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How we are seen determines in part how we are treated; how we treat others is based on how we see them; such seeing comes from representation.

(Dyer 1993: 1) in Gilbourn 2000

I have already seen people comment that this diversity is something to be applauded and to be completely fair, this is a more diverse set of people. Similar parallels were made with respect to Obama in the US. However, this means very little. I have also heard in our own field that sexism cannot exist as our current headteacher is a woman… discourse is important.

‘Not only is discourse always implicated in power, discourse is one of the ‘systems through which power circulates’

Hall 1992a: 294, original emphasis in Gilbourn 2000

Representation is a small incremental step towards equity. Nobody has ever said that oppression can be dispelled by individual acts. I will state what racism actually is. Acts of violence, discrimination and white solidarity are symptoms of the root cause of this oppression, this is the power structures and through the will of those to protect the status quo.

Racism is systemic oppression decided on the basis of race, the lines of power flow from oppressor to oppressed. By systemic oppression, I mean health care, judicial service, education, employment, etc. (reference the world or various previous blogs).

Racism is systemic oppression decided on the basis of race, the lines of power flow from oppressor to oppressed. By systemic oppression, I mean health care, judicial service, education, employment, etc.  Click To Tweet

The appointment of these people above may be a gesture in the right direction but it serves no purpose when the faced with these structures. Yes, representation is important, however, if having a melanated person in role serves only to discriminate against people of colour, the vessel is yet another force which maintains the status quo regardless of its colour.

Sajid Javid: In his role as Home Secretary removed the citizenship of a British born woman of colour leaving her stateless. The same was and has not been done to scores of white British fighters. This along with his refusal to call Donald Trump racist after his now-famous  ‘sent her back’ speech.

Priti Patel: This former disgraced has repeated against the 2013 Same-Sex couples marriage bill. Her work with foreign aid is interesting…

Dominic Raab: Until February 2018, was a member of British Ultra Liberal Youth facebook group which advocated that those in debt be sent to the workhouses.

Gilbourn states that when talking about equality, deracialisation (the removal of specific words) should only be employed when race is not genuinely implicated in the issues at stake.

Having read the above 3 statements, is the race of the members here really implicated in the issues at stake? The issues being systemic oppression.

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The test is simple, do these actions lead to the oppression of people? If your answer yes then it is a problem rather than a godsend.

What do we do?

  1. Stop linking racism or any other oppression to individual act, think systemically and about structure.
  2. Shout the above statement to every single person in the range, people need to understand that the representation simply serves to fog efforts to redress the balance.
  3. Disrupt the discourse. The discourse, in this case, a systematic tool for oppression.
  4. Use your power to support those who are underprivileged, whether that is by making sure you cite their work when you use it, or offering to support them.
The test is simple, do these actions lead to the oppression of people? If your answer yes then it is a problem rather than a godsend. Click To Tweet

References

Gilbourn 2000 Racism and Anti Racism in Real School. Chapter 2.

 

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