GRT – FFT Action

Dear Pran,

Energy companies like Shell are making nearly £10 billion in profit, while Gypsies and Travellers living on roadside camps and itinerant Boaters are forced to sacrifice basic necessities.

This isn’t fair. The Government must make energy grants available to everyone. 

 Help us make sure everyone gets support with rising energy costs.

In just a few clicks, tell your MP to extend the energy grants to everyone.

We’ve provided a template, but need you to stand up to injustice.

At Friends, Families and Travellers, we’re continuing to lobby the Government to extend its energy support to include families living on roadside camps and itinerant Boaters. 

With your support, we can continue to tackle inequalities on the frontline, advocate for Romany Gypsy, Roma, Irish Traveller and nomadic communities across the country, and provide ongoing crisis support.

Click here now, Pran, to help us work towards a future where everyone feels secure.

In solidarity, 

Sarah Mann 

Hi folx, I have just got the above email from FFT. I have often spoken about solidarity. There is no freedom till we are all free. Please do consider signing and supporting our siblings in their struggle.

In solidarity.


What is Intersectionality?

I often hear people talk about intersectionality through a lens of oppression or privilege. While this is useful for initial analysis or an introduction to critical sociological concepts. Well, if you believe you know what intersections are keep reading. If you don’t; keep reading I will sum up concisely the fickle understanding.

Yes, the very special mix of racism and misogyny experienced by women of colour is distinct and fits in its own box. For those of you unaware, head to learning about misogynoir for your introduction.

  1. Name five Black men killed in police custody?

2. Now, Name five British Black men killed in police custody?

3. Now, Name one British Black woman killed in police custody?

If you are struggling here; head to this piece of writing: Say Their Name UK.

Hopefully, you understand that being more aware of some injustices than others really means something.

That was a simple way of thinking about the intersectionality.

The origin story of the term used by Kimberly Crenshaw (a lawyer and scholar) comes from her 1989 paper. She starts with DeGraffenreid v General Motors in which five Black women alleged perpetuated discrimination, it was found that the organisation didn’t hire Black women pre 1964 and all Black women hire post 1970 were layed off in a upcoming recession.  The court said:

“[P]laintiffs have failed’ to cite any decisions which have stated that Black women are a special class to be protected from discrimination. The Court’s own research has failed to disclose such a decision. The plaintiffs are clearly entitled to a remedy if they have been discriminated against. However, they should not be allowed to combine statutory remedies to create a new ‘super-remedy’ which would give them relief beyond what the drafters of the relevant statutes intended. Thus, this lawsuit must be examined to see if it states a cause of action for race discrimination, sex discrimination, or alternatively either, but not a combination of both.”

The court found that “General Motors has hired … female employees for a number of years prior to the enactment of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” They found that as women were hired, yes, you guessed it, they were white women. No discrimination along the lines of sex could be bought.

In Moore Vs Hughes Helicopter Inc, plaintiffs brought a case that class representative act and was refused to bring on grounds of race *and* sex even though ‘significant’ statistical evidence was presented with respect race and sex in supervisory roles. People have lots of different characteristics and understanding that they in a sociological sense will intersect into a melee of oppressions and privileges.

What is a next level of analysis and thinking?

Let’s start with thinking about personal ascriptions;

When thinking about what makes you, you. The different parts of you.







Black Country

Native English speaker

Now think of these competing labels as circles in a Venn diagram. The fickle understanding would simply look at the experiences of a person through the intersecting loops. However, the first thing is to recognise the perception of a person and the internal ascription. This game is particularly pertinent when choosing a label – and each characteristic is valid as long it is not antithetical to another. Who gets to choose was is antithetical? and this is really important because the impact of the societies decision also impacts the self.

I would absolutely refer to myself as British but I have been told over a thousand times that you can’t be Brown and British. Hold your shock and opprobrium; keep reading. My retort has commonly been that my Parent were both British Subjects, their parents and their parents before them for around 200 years. There is even a question here to ask, why does this come to mind as a defence. Do any white British folx ever have a salient defence of their own right to determine my ethnicity (this is also consequence of my internalised oppression but that is for another day).

When thinking about intersectionality one must consider the ascription and the right to and importantly society’s sanction. Before we even start to think about a person’s privilege or oppression, we must appreciate the hegemonic impact of society’s acceptance or rejection.

Then most folx will go by the premise that protected characteristics are culminative and there is some truth to this. With our pupils there is a good example here (albeit race is largely ignored and relegated to a footnote). However, the simple assertion that Women are more oppressed than men, Black and Brown women are more oppressed than White women that trans folx are … is way too simple.

Intersections are complex; Black and Brown are treated terribly by the justice system and the oppression is palpable in the statistic concerning incarceration. MoC are 56% more likely to go to prison for committing the same crimes as white people. Black men as you saw in the above article as much more likely to die in police custody. Similar disparities exist in every field that matters, education, health, policing, housing, etc. However, the nuance is really important. An analysis of the way different folx navigate the world has to begin to include it furthers our own knowledge and provides a shield against simplest of arguments. More than that – intersectionality should allow us to appreciate that every characteristic and non-membership means that people navigate the world in ways which are complex and we must start to appreciate that if we are to work towards a fairer world.


Crenshaw, Kimberle () “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics,” University of Chicago Legal Forum: Vol. 1989: Iss. 1, Article 8.

One Strike and You’re Black.

‘I don’t see colour’ and ‘I don’t treat my student differently based on the colour of their skin’ are synonymous with teachers’ conversations across the globe. After decade in the classroom, school leadership and academia, we seek to dispel the myth of those statements. You may think you are a non-racist and that this challenge is an affront to your practice or value as a human being. If that is the case; please stop reading. You are not ready for the truth; you have work to do.

For those of ready for progress read on.

There is a plethora of research that exists which is contrary to cynical and majority view that interpersonal racial discrimination is prevalent in today’s classroom. Let’s start with the behaviour and perception of behaviour of Students of Colour.

‘[O]nly White, middle-class students – but particularly boys – could enjoy an unproblematised association with “traditional” academic success’ (Archer, 2008, p. 23).

Archer 2008 argues that educational ‘success’ in the eyes of teachers is very much an ‘impossible’ subjective position for ‘Minority Ethnic’ students. As Students of Colour are more likely to be overlooked for their academic achievement. When they are not they are regarded as attaining these goals in the wrong way; think East Asian students being told they lack leadership and social skills ‘achieving but in the wrong way’.

While society may allow teachers to exist with a self-designated non racist medal/badge/cookie, the reality is that is that educators will mirror the same trends that they are primed for in society. Okonofua and Eberhardt 2015 investigated educators (across racial lines) and their views on repeated infractions that were committed by Black and white students. They presented online records of insubordination and class disruption (the order counterbalanced across the sample) and asked teachers:

“ “How severe was the student’s misbehavior?” “To what extent is the student hindering you from maintaining order in your class?” “How irritated do you feel by the student?” and “How severely should the student be disciplined?” All questions were rated separately on scales ranging from 1, not at all, to 7, extremely. ”

Above are the mean ratings of how troubled teachers felt (a measure of severity, hindrance, and irritation) by the student’s misbehaviour and how severely they felt students should be disciplined. From their data you can see in the first instance white and Black students caused troubling feels in educators in (near) equal measures. Educators also felt Black student should face disciplinary action more than their white peers but this was not statistically significant.

So, teachers are NOT racist.

Erm, if only. 

When told about the second interaction teachers thought that the Black students should be disciplined more severely and brought on more troubling feelings. Look at the bars above again. Yes, that’s a statistically significant relationship.

Look at the data again one more time and let the results sink in; this paper is entitled ‘Two Strikes: Race and the Disciplining of Young Students’.

How does this impact in our classrooms? I sincerely hope you are not retreating into yourself but questioning the processes that lead into these patterns. 

In the UK the Timpson report 2019 found that a Black boy with SEND needs and FSM is 168 times more likely to excluded when compared to a white girl without those characteristics. A Black child of Caribbean heritage is 2.2 (1.7 if we remove socio-economic status) more likely to assessed as SEMH needs than white pupils Burgess . This means that educational psychologists are showing obvious racial discriminations and so are schools (that’s every level from senior leadership to teacher) in the referral process.

These patterns don’t exist in a school vacuum. The reinforcement of correlations also exists in our criminal justice system – being a Person of Colour or an ‘Ethnic Minority’ you are over 55% more likely to serve a custodial sentence for committing the same crime as a white person.

I could go on;

What can we do? Well, this begins with interrogation of self and that start with an acceptance. Next comes the hard work of using techniques to combat these socio psychological phenomena. That is for another day.


Okonofua, J. A., & Eberhardt, J. L. (2015). Two Strikes: Race and the Disciplining of Young Students. Psychological Science, 26(5), 617–624.

Archer, L. (2008). The Impossibility of Minority Ethnic Educational ‘Success’? An Examination of the Discourses of Teachers and Pupils in British Secondary Schools. European Educational Research Journal, 7(1), 89–107.

Strand, Steve & Lindorff, Ariel. (2018). Ethnic disproportionality in the identification of Special Educational Needs (SEN) in England: Extent, causes and consequences. 10.13140/RG.2.2.23625.19044.

The Antiracist Educator

This is an excerpt from the antiracist educator – The book covers everything from bias and curriculum to racialised trauma. Click here to buy the book.

Introduction to Antiracism for Teachers

“At a time like this, scorching Irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, to-day, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscience of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.” (Frederick Douglass, in Foner, 1999, p. x)


Welcome, folx. You’ve picked up a book designed to make you feel uncomfortable, to challenge your thinking and to make your practice and environment a fairer place. Common responses to this type of work include anger, tears, wanting to walk away and sometimes, threats of violence. It’s okay if you experience those feelings. I want you to remember that these feelings are defence mechanisms which stem from the systems and structures of our society. This book is not about you, but that society. The structures that our society are built upon means that there are people who are oppressed, and others who actively benefit from that as a direct result. For this to end, we must face up to the fact that we all have a role in racial equity and must take an active part in fighting injustice in our society.

Racism is often defined solely as acts of physical violence and the use of derogatory terms towards People of Colour. Although violence and words are used within racism, these actions should be seen as symptoms of a greater issue. Racism comes in four forms: Individual, Institutional, Systemic, Internalised.

In this book, we will mainly concentrate on systemic and institutionalised racism. Within school systems, these two forms of racism are the most active and pervasive. Together, we will look at how our actions, ideologies, and thoughts uphold a society in which the journeys of People of Colour are fundamentally different from those of white people.

Systematic and Institutional Racism

In describing society, let us use the analogy of a house. Individual racism is analogous to the violence (whether verbal or physical) that takes place in a room in the house. The impacts of individualised acts of hate are abhorrent. As a Man of Colour, I have experienced these frequently, and as a result, I am well-versed in the damage they can inflict. These acts stem from more ubiquitous structures that provide the impetus for that hate. The allegory stretches to having a hole in the ceiling, which damages the contents of the room. The leak is not produced or caused by the room’s contents but is a symptom of structural issues in the roof.

In our analogy, institutionalised or organisational racism are the rules of the house, which include who can enter which rooms, who can sit at the table, eat at the table, speak at the table, how decisions are made in the house, and so on. I am assuming many of you are asking, ‘How do our organisations propagate racism?’ This is because each school in the UK is part of a wider societal structure that upholds this propagation. By the end of this book you may be better versed to recognise this.

Systemic racism is pernicious in its very nature, but it is the proverbial foundations of society and the foundation of our house; taking it even further, it is the fact that our ‘house’ exists at all. It is essential for us to recognise that racism is not just who we are; instead, in understanding systemic racism, we must realise the structures and walls within which we reside dictate the outcomes for millions of people.

First, let us accept that systemic racism impacts People of Colour and simultaneously does not and cannot have the same effect on white people.

Yes, I am saying that white people cannot be victims of systemic racism.

On the face of it, this may sound unfair.

Come with me here.

Imagine that I, Pran Patel, hate white people (I do not), and in my relative position of power in schools, I refuse to employ white applicants. Think about the consequences. Would this be unfair? Yes, absolutely. Are the white applicants facing an instance of discrimination? Yes. But what happens tomorrow? Those very same individuals apply to any other organisation and are faced with a fair opportunity and an advantage. Nothing, in essence, changes for those racialised as white; the architecture of the system itself is designed by and for them. However, there are obvious stark barriers and differences when considering Teachers of Colour.

[BAME] teachers are, on average, paid less than their peers, commonly face

discrimination and prejudice when applying for jobs or promotion and

typically face both overt and covert racism in the workplace. (Keates, 2021)

Racial prejudice and discrimination are different entities although they are often conflated. An easy way of defining them is that racial prejudice is based around prejudged attitudes towards a group and discrimination is rooted in the actions that stem from those attitudes. Racism, whether individual, institutionalised or systemic, should be seen as a consequence

of the earth on which we built our house. The roots of oppression start with the fact we have inherited this land after a legacy of exploitation and theft. For centuries Brown and Black bodies, lands and resources have been fair game in the hunt for power.

The esteemed Jamaican philosopher Charles W Mills …

To read more click here.

What is Critical Race Theory?

Critical Race Theory or CRT is a section of scholastic analysis of race within society—it is an academic branch of sociology that analyses the world around us. I would argue that the tranche of study is not based on the melanin of individuals but the power that is afforded to those who are racialised as white (or those who have a proximity to whiteness). Many scholars have echoed that the power structures are primary and are crucial to the promulgation of racism. I have been repeating this point like a mantra for the best part of two decades; we don’tdon’t have to hate or kill folx to uphold white supremacy.

The following statement should not be controversial:

“”Every school in the UK/US is institutionally racist.””

As in our role as educators, who can deny that we uphold systems that denigrate the lives of People of Colour? Through teaching an ethnocentric curriculum, implementing disproportionate sanctions, under assessing pupils of Colour, disproportionate HR and the treatment of teachers of Colour, etc. Racism is the norm, it is every day, and we all contribute to it daily.


CRT evolved from the need for an alternative to the tired narrative of reformation, which stems from the civil rights movement and its academic analysis and critical legal studies (CLS). In CLS, scholars aimed to identify and deconstruct the inequalities within society in the United States during the 1970s. With race being the defining factor in oppression in our communities, the approach taken by CLS scholars was to relegate race’s significance to be analogous to class-based oppression. Thus CRT arose as the alternative.


Opponents of critical race theory often question its validity and often require ‘proof’; I have written elsewhere about the pitfalls of positivism (seeing truth as having an absolute value). When talking about people, society and their analysis, we cannot quantify proof in the same way we do the natural sciences. This same process is also evident in education but isn’t it interesting that we rarely see challenges to those academic departments.

Some Tenets.

  1. All scholars in these sociological departments are tied to a constructivist ontology; I don’t believe you can take another stance when talking about race.
  2. Racism is typified in society, entrenched into the culture and everyday life. So it exists without the need is not necessarily overt or with intention.
  3. White supremacy is the culmination of political, economic, and cultural systems that allow white people to control commodities and other resources. These privileges are present regardless of intention or conscious observance.
  4. The narratives from People of Colour are diverse and numerous. Thus, the power analysis is taken from the overall trends and a culmination of experiences.
  5. Racial equity has rarely come from the sympathies or benevolence of white folx. Rather, moves that are conterminous with a mutual benefit, such as in times of labour shortages, may mean that the rights afforded to white workers are afforded those of Colour (through the bypassing through racist immigration policies).
  6. Intersectionality is the concept that states that all characteristics may contribute to the power imbalance, including but not limited to race with gender, sexuality, colour, etc. As I am racialised as a Brown man my experience of the world is different to those of a Black woman.

Denying this scholarship is the same as refusing to engage in the knowledge that doesn’t fit your narrative. Sorry if you feel this is contentious, but that’s not knowledge. What you are engaging in is propaganda.

Internalised Racism

“Now if we are concerned with our awakening, it is because we’ve been asleep. Now we were put to sleep by historical catastrophes. And you know when people get into an accident; they need to go to sleep in order to survive the accident. If you are totally conscious when it happens, you won’t survive. So sleep is sometimes useful. But after sleep we have to wake”

Ayi Kwei Armah

I have written and spoken about the four types of racism – individualised, structural, institutional and internal. I have rarely talked about the latter for many reasons, mainly because the majority can interpret it as attacking People of Colour. I do not pen this piece of writing for the gaze of white folx; thus, if you are racialised as white, please read with caution; Hold your privilege in mind, and I humbly ask you to stay in your lane face your front. These words are not about or for you.

Growing up as a man of colour in the UK is a dichotomous process. As a Brown child, you are raised through a schizoid process with one part of you having to water the garden of your ancestors (in my case, mangos and pomegranates), and simultaneously we are forced to tend the garden of whiteness (apple and apple pears). If you are not au fait with whiteness, of you pop and go and do your homework.

While we tend our gardens, we find ourselves having to deny the existence of the mango because we taught through an ethnocentric curriculum that the pomegranates are ‘exotic’ and not part of the normal. 

The normalisation is not a passive or secondary process from the education system, but this is a deliberate act. Education is the root of a system designed to uphold white supremacy; it always has and always will. This system is working at peak efficiency; let’s not fool ourselves by giving it the grace of morality. 

“In the colonial context the settler only ends his work of breaking in the [N]ative when the latter admits loudly and intelligibly the supremacy of the white man’s values” (Fanon, 1961. p42)

Read that quote again. Does it make you feel uncomfortable? As a Person of Colour, how often have you refused to talk in your mother tongue or swapped your traditional garments for a suit and tie? Changed the accent of your parents? Have you anglicised your name? felt imposter syndrome (through your existence)?

Even as an experienced school leader and educator, I have been taught to espouse these very values. It has been usualised into my daily practice; Even now, the thought of not wearing a three-piece suit to a professional sphere starts to fill me with anxiety. Yes, my mind is also colonised; our resistance is natural; the following line in the quote:

“In the period of decolonisation, the colonised masses mock at these very values, insult them, and vomit them up.” 

We should look back at the opening quote. We need to think about the idea of trauma. Some traumas are incredibly powerful, so ingrained that it embeds in the dispositional of unborn foetuses (Williams, 2020); they span centuries and through a diasporic spread both through ‘voluntary’ and forced migration encompasses the globe. These traumas lead to the environmental factors that lead to the same cycles that destroy the meritocracy premise.

Yes, I am saying that chattel slavery, colonisation and every act of racism between then and now impact People of Colour today.

Sleep. Sleep is important. The unconscious state is not necessarily a place of healing but one of survival. Without a level of denial of the hurt, how would one exist in this world? Imagine for a minute. a Black person in the UK being subjected to the daily glorification of those who thought of their ancestors as animals, commodities. Stack that with the fact they were compensated by the government (for their loss of stock). At the same time, the descendants of those very same people use their privilege to run the country (two whole prime ministers).

Sleep is important. I have often seen the media point to those embued and enamoured by whiteness. Look, here are a few Brown and Black folx who agree with our ideology. While this is fundamentally and systemically damaging, we still have to consider all our Brown and Black brethren as victims of the same racism.

Sometimes, just sometimes, it’s easier to pretend that the violence inflicted on melanated bodies is not based on racism but anything else. It’s easier to blame other folx for not working harder enough, centre on class, the wrong place and time or my favourite ‘it’s not what you know but who you know’. 

I am not asleep, and I refuse to keep my morning calls on silent mode. It’s time to wake and awaken those around you.

“YOU CAN’T PUNISH ME” – Racialised Behaviour

I trained to become a teacher in a school close to where I grew up in the West Midlands between the two cities of Birmingham and Wolverhampton. Like many 21 years olds, I had an attitude, charisma and certain arrogance. Walking into that secondary school, I remember the excitement, the deep feeling in my stomach, which may be interpreted as anxiety now. Still, at the time, I somehow used all that nervous energy to dream about my future.

My route into teaching was a baptism of fire—the GTP, the graduate teaching program. I walked in on my first day, and I was expected to observe, yes, but also to teach. Yes, deliver a lesson on my own on the first day. No problems here, a certain arrogance, remember. 

I spent the morning planning the lesson in the prep room (I taught science for another two decades), and an older white colleague sat across the desk from me, playing with an inoculating loop. He spies over the Bunsen burners between us and says:

“You’ve got 10 S”

The S is elongated into an essssss. My heart started to jump into beat! my first lesson.

“Yes, I’m really excited”

“That whole class is a mess, and that’s the one with Nathaniel, that black boy, unteachable.”

“Oh right.”

I spent the next ten minutes in my head. Un – bloody – teachable, right? I’m five years older than these youths, nightmare? Today will be a breeze.

I met the year 10 S; I’m walking around like I’m bigger than ‘Prince’, and predictably 10s were not a nightmare…

They were worse. 

In that first lesson, Nathaniel, a young Pupil of Colour, taught me more about life than the previous 20 years on this spinning rock could ever have. He and I didn’t get off to a great start. As teaching debuts go, halfway through the lesson, he jumps out of the window. Oh, I taught in 1.2; yeah, the 1 meant a first-floor, which means there was some height to that window. 

“Someone died. I’m teaching my first lesson; I’m someone died.”

Said the voice in my head.

Unbeknownst to me – our Nathaniel had been a parkour practitioner. I clicked that as I saw him making his getaway across the field adjacent to my lab. 

The lesson ends. I survive, barely. That voice gnaws inside my forehead. 

“I’m not having it”.

Anyone who’s has ever met me will know this is a massive part of my personality, a persistent tenacity. These children are in the place that I was a meer set of months ago; that level of disrespect – 





Like a dog with a bone, I spent the rest of the day pounding the corridors. Eventually, I collared our escape artist, and we marched back to the classroom where I’d previously slammed every window shut! As we walked in, I led us both, veering to the left to pick up a notebook from my desk and return to Nathaniel’s intended seat. I notice as I turn, Nathaniel is crying, tears but not blubs or sobs but continuous unabating streams. 

Approaching with my notebook in hand back toward the desk and as I pull the stool out. Nathaniel says without his voice cracking and in one breath, 

“you can’t punish me.”

Impossibly quickly. The words of response begin the form in my brain; slowly, the ideas mingle, rise and collapse into the solid form ready to drop.

“I, me, I can’t punish you. Me, the adult, can’t punish you, the child. Me teacher, you pupil – what part of this power dynamic don’t you understand?”

Before the words left my psyche, never let alone my lips Nathaniel again without the need for pauses between words said in one breath:

“You can’t punish me, sir. You can’t punish me. If you don’t love me.”

Silence ensued. 

Both of us locked in eye contact, processing his little litany, and there is fell. 

You can’t change, influence or support anyone’s behaviour if they don’t believe you have their best interests at heart. The conversation continued; the world for this Black boy taught him that he was not enough. He knew this was his lot; That no one cared about him, and he had ‘proof’ – this was the first time anyone had ever taken the time to hear him.

Nathaniel and I talked for some time about our world as People of Colour in the West Midlands. This interaction was a turning point for Nathaniel, but this was a 180 pirouette for both of us. I have spent the whole of my career with this at the forefront of my practice. All teaching is a relational act, and this is even more pertinent for Brown and Black pupils. The shocking thing is I knew this already; I had just learned to ignore it in the five years between my student and me.

I found myself remembering my youth and the lack of voice, no, the lack of people who were willing to hear, to the pleas of young boys, whose primary need is for those in charge to care enough to listen. 

Caring (and showing that overtly) has always been at the root of my practice. It’s been at the core of my whole life. If you are in the privileged position of serving Pupils of Colour, then remember, in a society that denies their voices, you could be the one person who changes their world. 

The Responsibility of Everyone of Us.

Buying printer cartridges for many folx is a mundane task. In this recent experience, I also found that it’s also incredibly costly. This is a letter to the dear old man who stopped me on the way out of the shop to ‘ask’ about the decolonise the curriculum hoodie I was wearing.

Him: “What do you mean by decolonise the curriculum?”

Me: “To teach a fairer representation and a more authentic truth, to create a more egalitarian world.”

Him: “But the curriculum is what it is?”

Me: “At the moment, white folx are overrepresented and disproportionately in our curriculum, and the overarching narratives are for want of another word ‘disingenuous’ and damaging.”

Him: “The English went to colonies and tried stop people eating each other.”

My heart starts to race. There is a pain in that monotonous drumming in the space in my chest. It’s not a physical pain; it’s not anger; it’s a feeling of deep and familiar sorrow. My soul and I are here (again) defending my brownness (all of the other perceived ‘…nesses’) because we as a collective have adopted a state of national amnesia. 

We, and I mean, we, as educators, have genuinely failed. 

We engage in discourse; the gentleman states his age, I inhale deeply, count to 5 and bring myself down at this point. Sir is my father’s age, and the way I was raised means almost always ‘that respect comes with experience’. My adulthood has taught me that toxic is toxic, but you know, I give this white-skinned uncle some grace. 

We talk about the colonies the world wars with all the decorum of the British norms and conviviality. He stops at one point, looks at me up and down, stopping at the length of my beard and spits out, “The English were great for the Indians”. I’m now perplexed; I have just spent 3-4 minutes skilfully introducing and accessible unknown concepts around the ideological epistemic underpinnings of exploitation and commodification.

I stop and wait.

In silence, I wonder if I have lost my mind. Did I say anything about Indians hating the empire? or the ills that we committed in South Asia? That arrow was in the quiver for a shot later in the gambit.

At this point, my driver walks up behind me (a Muslim man with a glorious beard, he follows the sunnah of the prophet (PBUH)). 

It starts to make sense with his next comment.

“Well, your lot may not, but the Hindooos loved the British”.

The most straightforward reply is to calmly state that I’m a practising Hin*du* and possibly deconstruct the attack based on a perceived Muslimness; this is a shocking example of false islamophobia. 

However, as a people committed to fighting oppression, we don’t get to pick our battles. Serving the equilibrium is easy when you have nothing to lose. The mark of integrity is shown when we sacrifice power to redress the balance. That get of jail free card is stamped with the same hate that my kith and kin who follow the words of Allah face daily.

I find myself in a place of dissonance, incongruence, there is respect, and there is harm. This is a novel feeling, the maintenance of day to day harm and civil discourse is my bread and butter. There is a recognition that struggles with the choice of solidarity, now attack me directly all you want, come for my people, and I’ll tell you about yourself. Yes, that’s in the notebook for my therapist at supervision. 

I look over at my driver. We speak in non-verbal broken dialect of nods, facial movements and postures of the eye. As a non-Muslim, I don’t know what this is like; I do know, however, what it is like to watch good people stand silent in the face of oppression. A nod and tiny curl of the lips signifies of connection ends our secret conversation and transaction ‘I’ve got you’.

Couple this with the fact that clapping back at this white man will help neither myself, him or the equilibrium. We trudge on through the swampy quagmire, walking him home through this disorientating dilemma.

I then talk through the ideology of agnotology, complicit duplicity and epistemology of ignorance. As simple as possible through some expert pedagogy as articulate and calmly as when I was at the grindstone in the classroom. 

“Well, all this makes you a racist.”

At this point, this is labour and not one of love. Now I have to explain that as a PoC, I cannot the racist in the way legal, academic and sociological frameworks utilise that word. That racism is systemic, and as a brown man, I cannot systemically disadvantage white folx. 

It continues; he challenges our credentials and quesions.

“What have browns and Blacks done for mathematics? Physics ? Chemistry?”

my driver, obviously annoyed because he knows between us we hold four postgraduate qualifications, scoffs and says 

” Erm, 1. You know Pran teaches physics and 2. His Tedx talk is on the website.”

there is a pause, and then 

“It’s time to go the engines running.”

We dance again to the rhythm of undoing the harm of the education system. The idea of hurt and violence is not penetrating the hard shell. We talked about the variety of experiences that my driver and I had faced in the last three months, police violence, overt racism, and surprisingly we made progress. There is a flicker of empathy and possible self-reflection. 

Then it comes crashing down; part two of a critical reflection is often accompanied by guilt and shame. It is always easier to run from those emotions than to reckon with and feel them wholly. 

Then comes metaphorically another slap to our faces. 

“Why do you hate Britain?”

My driver jumps in, giving me time to compose myself.

“Who hates Britain? This my, sorry, our home! Born and raised in London. Well I am. Pran is from the Midlands…”

As the sting of the slap embeds, the five fingers leave an instant tenderness of the skin; I am moved by the grace of God or the universe to heal my oppressors hate rather than soothe myself.

“Let’s us think about this; many of us are trying to make the place we live and love better in the UK. I would say that’s not a burden that’s given but the responsibility of all. Every politician, teacher, activist, campaigner, and lawyer I could go on take this on. Would we ever accuse Boris or Keir of hating our country? Or is that solely reserved for brown and black folx. 


“Yes, yes, You need to forget all this and integrate, work hard and make the most of it.”

Forlorn and tired from this unpaid exertion. I flip the narrative. 

“Do you understand how easy it is for you to exist in this world as a man racialised as white? To not worry about your safety and about those you love? “

Through clenched teeth and watering eyes, we relayed a incident of individualised and systemic racism we experienced together that week. 

“Those things will and can never happen to you, and so could you spend 10 seconds, sir, and reflect on the impact of you asking us to forget and continue to carry on has.”

This request falls on deaf ears.

“No. My mother was attacked because of antisemitism whilst pregnant – I know hate.”

This is not a war, well, not from our side of the shop floor. This is about sharing experiences. We reply in unison.
“In solidarity”

I go on.

“That’s a terrible thing to have experienced. Let make sure that this doesn’t ever happen again to anyone. We stand with you.”

The instinct to run is now in full flow. The flight button is pressed.

“I can’t talk about this anymore – it’s too upsetting.” 

He says, turning on his heels and walking away. 

My driver and I – look at each other, again no words leave our lips. Although we are silent, the message is clear. We don’t get to walk away from our oppression. It is our burden, and today also it is our responsibility to eradicate it. ‘This is the price we pay’ we are left both wondering what the transaction is for and what we get in return.

The white flight, the distraction, the near tears are exhausting. We leave that shop through open automatic doors, both whispering silent and silent prayers. 

Turn to each other, and in earnest, smile – 

“We did our best today.”

“Who’s next?”

Racial Literacy

Here I aim to create a list of terms and definitions around racial literacy.


When we think too little our judgments can be skewed by irrelevant information that we happened to see, hear, or think about a moment ago. This phenomenon is known as anchoring. Anchoring is one of the cognitive biases discovered by Tversky and Kahneman (1974)


Culturally Inclusive

A culturally inclusive environment requires mutual respect, effective relationships, clear communication, explicit understandings about expectations and critical self-reflection.

In an inclusive environment, people of all cultural orientations can:

● freely express who they are, their own opinions and points of view
● fully participate in teaching, learning, work and social activities
● feel safe from abuse, harassment or unfair criticism.



The everyday slights, indignities, put downs and insults that People of Color, women, LGBT populations or those who are marginalized experiences in their day-to-day interactions with people.

Source: Derald W. Sue


A token status invokes the feeling of being responsible for representing one’s minority group favorably in any given domain. This feeling of responsibility or self-consciousness diverts the token’s attention from
the cognitive task at hand and therefore can result in deficits in problem solving and memory.

Source: Saenz, 1994


Exaggerated belief[s] associated with a [social] category

Source: Allport, 1979

Stereotype Threat

When students belong to a known group for which negative assumptions to intelligence exists a process called a stereotype threat can provoke responses which impair academic performance as well as
academic engagement (Steele and Aronson, 1995, Aronson et al, 2001).
Beasley and Fischer (2011) collate research in which the stereotype threat has been shown to reduces
academic attainment through physiological increases in blood pressure (Blascovich et al. 2001), a reduction in working memory (Schmader and Johns 2003) as well as protective disengagement from the task to save their self esteem (Aronson et al. 1998).



Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic – A UK specific term used to describe all would do not ascribe to the white label. Recently this label and the nature of the label have been described as problematic as it conflates the journeys and the lives of 80% of the world population into one category.

Pran Patel 2020

Global Majority (GM)

The BAME acronym but acknowledge the majority aspect of the world’s population and moves away from the minority word.

Pran Patel 2020

Individual Racism

Interpersonal racism occurs between individuals. Once we bring our private beliefs into our interaction with others, racism is now in the interpersonal realm.

Tools and Concepts for Strengthening Racial Equity, Presentation to School District U- 46, Terry Keleher,
Applied Research Center, 2011

Institutional Racism

Institutional racism refers specifically to the ways in which institutional policies and practices create different outcomes for different racial groups. The institutional policies may never mention any racial group, but their effect is to create advantages for whites and oppression and disadvantage for people from groups classified as people of color.

Flipping the Script: White Privilege and Community Building. Maggie Potapchuk, Sally Leiderman, Donna Bivens and Barbara Major. 2005

Structural Racism

The normalization and legitimization of an array of dynamics – historical, cultural, institutional and interpersonal – that routinely advantage Whites while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for people of color. Structural racism encompasses the entire system of White domination, diffused and infused in all aspects of society including its history, culture, politics, economics and entire social fabric. Structural racism is more difficult to locate in a particular institution because it involves the reinforcing effects of multiple institutions and cultural norms, past and present, continually reproducing old and producing new forms of racism. Structural racism is the most profound and pervasive form of
racism – all other forms of racism emerge from structural racism.

Racial Justice Action Education Manual. Applied Research Center, 2003.

White Privilege

The lack of racial discrimination and disadvantage. Privilege can be split into the opposing definitions
of institutionalised, structural and individual racism.

Pran Patel 2020

Decolonise ‘Choice’

In this piece, we will challenge the often-repeated ideology that the panacea for inequity is in the hands of that individual, the choices we have and the choices we give to our students.

We often tell our young people, “Behave correctly, make better choices and work hard you’ll go further in life”. Now I have often written how the idea of the meritocracy is racist, classist, sexist, etc. Today let’s concentrate on the “correct” and “better choices”.

All students can change their life chances through their choices; this narrative is: “You can be anything you want, you just have to choose to work harder seize the opportunity”. 

Working hard is the apparent solution to everything. 

The idea of the ‘meritocracy’ is racist, classist, sexist, etc. I can see the eye-rolling from sceptics through the page; working hard means earning more outstanding merit, which means you will achieve more. As we have a disproportionate number of white, male, straight people at the top of society’s tree, this must mean that they work harder. Everyone who doesn’t is lazy, or that those characteristics inhibit their ability to do so.

What are the Choices that Exist? 

Black and Brown folx have the choice to not talk with an accent, to not wear traditional garments, to not celebrate their own culture, to embrace ‘our’ culture which looks like coming to the pub, eat out food in the staff room, have a stiff upper lip, to keep their mouth shut, to shut up and put up and it goes on and on.

Would you say there is a choice? Do they or you have options? Would I get booked as many talks if I talk with a broad South Asian influenced Black Country accent and dialect? If you didn’t go to the pub because your faith and culture forbid the promotion of or the consumption of alcohol, would you not miss out on those relationship-building opportunities with the powers that be? Can you eat your traditional foods and be chastised for eating with your hands? 

What we teach our children is that the only path is to acquiesce because resistance means sacrifice. 

Being your authentic self* is often banded around leadership spaces. Integrity and authenticity are essential for even my measure of a good leader. 

However, that caveat is important: *within the realms of ‘our’ acceptability (whiteness, maleness, heteroness, etc.). Be authentic and celebrate the parts of yourself that fit? If you don’t, then keep working on taking on those traits till you can.

There maybe be people out there plying the argument that maleness is the best or that the whiteness in our society produces the more significant results. Shockingly, I, yes, me, Pran Patel, I may even agree with you. However, we must recognise that society does not exist in an objective reality; what if I told you that we’d been brainwashed into the correct, the good and the best?

I sat in a car with three men after an international cricket match at Trent Bridge last week, and it was a good day, a day out with family. Our conversation slopes from the test match we’d just left because of the rain to the Hundred. The fantastic new format of the game was introduced in the summer of 2021, and through a masterstroke of marketing, the women’s match is offered for free and before the traditional evening men’s version. 

A brother of mine says:

“You don’t see the same power in the women game.”

Another pipes up from the driver’s seat: 

“And they think it should have the same commercial value, pay them the same as the men, pah”


“Come on, Pran, hit us with your response *eye roll*.”

I sat quietly, thinking about the thread of the discussion. My mind first interrogated the women’s game, the speed that bowlers bowl and the distances people hit the ball; it must be comparable, surely. Then to the question: Are we trained to see the ball travel further and faster when in the hand of a man, the way stereotype association, salience and perception work, probably? But, there is something wrong with this line of thinking.

Now I could argue about the virtues of the women’s game, the skills, the timing, anything really, there are many measures we could use for entertainment, but that misses the target. We need to swap the bow and arrow for something else. There is something wrong with the very idea of what is and is not entertaining.

Even once we have incorporated the perception and stereotype factor, it’s still likely true that the women’s game doesn’t see fast bowling at the same speeds or batting with the power-hitting. The real question is, why did these become the metric for better cricket? Who decided that power, blistering pace are the sole measure of value and entertainment? Where did that idea come? Who decided that this is entertainment? And who brainwashed us?

The Issues within the Mark. 

Why is strength (as a consequence leadership, power and action) seen as masculine primarily? Suppose our measuring instrument is designed to observe a trait that tends towards maleness. In that case, there is a logical consequence that women are placed into a position of inferiority by default. If your ruler quantifies whiteness as the epitome of success, i.e. How articulate you are? How correct your language is? The vernacular and lexical choices you use, the cultural capital, economic capital, credentialed, etc., white people are then seen as superior sequentially. 

Then a transformation happens; success is not only measured by whiteness, but whiteness becomes success.

Case study: Classism

Recently Lord Digby Jones criticised Alex Scott’s exposition of sports.

“Enough! I can’t stand it anymore! Alex Scott spoils a good presentational job on the BBC Olympics Team with her very noticeable inability to pronounce her ‘g’s at the end of a word.Competitors are NOT taking part, Alex, in the fencin, rowin, boxin, kayakin, weightliftin & swimming”

She responded with:

“I’m from a working class family in East London, Poplar, Tower Hamlets & I am PROUD 🙌🏾  

Proud of the young girl who overcame obstacles, and proud of my accent!

It’s me, it’s my journey, my grit.”

Finally the Lord

“Alex Scott, please don’t play the working class card. You are worthy of much better than that! I admire & often publicly praise the adversity you faced & defeated to achieve all the success you deserve. Not sounding a g at the end of a word is wrong; period. It’s not a question”

Lord Digby seems to value the elocution of the ‘g’, which is his measure of success or correctness. 

There is a lot to say here:

  1.  English is not French with the Académie Française; the language is free to live, evolve, and change, the colloquial vocabulary, elocution and pronunciation of the language changes daily and is even recognised annually. So, what is ‘wrong’? If we measure the correctness by standards that are trained into the middle classes, then the middle classes will always be more ‘correct’ than the working classes.
  1. This idea of the working-class card is classist (and arguable racist by default), recognising that these power structures exist and that you are being denigrated because it is a nefarious act upholds those same structures. The following sentence plays to the value of defeating adversity to achieve success. ‘Adversity’ exists because the system that Lord Digby benefits from, whether she has overcome and defeated barriers, could be used as a measure of her success. This does not mean that the scores of working-class people are not to be admired for not defeating those hurdles.


Decolonisation seeks to challenge the correctness of the exam papers, the content, and the choices that lead to both. While we look at the curricula contents, we must primarily keep these two questions in mind: What is correct? Why is it right? And then feed the answers into actions which seek to change those ideas going forward.

There is a level of correctness to be challenged throughout, which is often dictated by exam boards and pre existing content. As teaching in the UK is measured on exam results, teachers end up teaching to the test. I don’t think this is controversial as ‘what gets measured get done’, but I don’t believe an educator in the country came into the profession to imbue their students with the ability to predict mark schemes and pass exams. As a profession, we should be centring on learning and adapting the assessment to suit. There is a need to flip the narrative. 

Yes, we have little choice as educators to teach the material. However, we have the power to deliver through a critical lens and with the skills to empower the next generation to challenge the status quo of ‘correctness’.