Headteacher accuses the ‘woke’ of ‘cultural racism’ for attacking black Conservatives

A headteacher has today taken a swipe at ‘woke culture’ for ‘mercilessly attacking’ black conservatives who ‘dare to think for themselves’.

Taking aim at those behind the abuse of race report chairman Tony Sewell, headteacher Katharine Birbalsingh accused ‘leftists’ of driving their own ‘cultural racism’ by attempting to shut down opposing views.

It comes after Members of the Government’s racial disparities commission this week hit back at the ‘irresponsible and dangerous’ criticism being levelled at them by politicians and public figures. 

Members of the committee came under fire from critics who called recent the study by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities a ‘whitewash’ after it found no conclusive evidence of institutional racism in Britain. 

But they raised concerns about abuse they had faced amid the debate.

The committee even highlighted a tweet from a Labour MP who had used an image of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in reference to the report. 

A Cambridge University professor also sparked outrage on social media by comparing committee chairman Dr Sewell, who is black, to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.  

Now Ms Birbalsingh, who is the founder and headmistress of London-based free school Michaela Community School, has hit back at the attacks black Conservatives face.

She said: ‘It is always acceptable in our woke culture of 2021 to mercilessly attack black conservatives. 

Headteacher Katharine Birbalsingh has today taken a swipe at 'woke culture' for 'mercilessly attacking' black Conservatives who 'dare to think for themselves'.

Headteacher Katharine Birbalsingh has today taken a swipe at 'woke culture' for 'mercilessly attacking' black Conservatives who 'dare to think for themselves'.

Headteacher Katharine Birbalsingh has today taken a swipe at ‘woke culture’ for ‘mercilessly attacking’ black Conservatives who ‘dare to think for themselves’.

Taking aim at those behind the abuse of race report chairman Dr Tony Sewell (pictured, headteacher Katharine Birbalsingh accused 'leftists' of driving their own 'institutionalised racism' by shutting down opposing views

Taking aim at those behind the abuse of race report chairman Dr Tony Sewell (pictured, headteacher Katharine Birbalsingh accused 'leftists' of driving their own 'institutionalised racism' by shutting down opposing views

Taking aim at those behind the abuse of race report chairman Dr Tony Sewell (pictured, headteacher Katharine Birbalsingh accused ‘leftists’ of driving their own ‘institutionalised racism’ by shutting down opposing views

‘They have “betrayed” their leftist masters by daring to think for themselves, when they should be grateful. 

‘THAT is institutionalised/cultural racism. And it is everywhere.’

Her comments came in response to a Tweet by another educator who also hit out at the ‘vile abuse’ aimed at those behind the report.   

Last week the authors of the controversial report into racism in Britain said they welcomed ‘robust debate’ over the committee’s findings.

Cambridge don’s ‘Goebbels’ jibe

A Cambridge University professor has sparked outrage by comparing the chairman of the Government’s race commission to Joseph Goebbels.

Dr Priyamvada Gopal initially questioned whether Dr Tony Sewell even had a doctorate.

Dr Priyamvada Gopal initially questioned whether Dr Tony Sewell even had a doctorate

Dr Priyamvada Gopal initially questioned whether Dr Tony Sewell even had a doctorate

Dr Priyamvada Gopal initially questioned whether Dr Tony Sewell even had a doctorate

After finding out that he possesses one from the University of Nottingham, she made the comparison to Adolf Hitler’s minister of propaganda.

Dr Gopal, a professor of post-colonial studies, wrote on Twitter: ‘Okay, established. It is, in fact, Dr Sewell. Fair enough. Even Dr Goebbels had a research PhD. (University of Heidelberg, 1921).’

The tweet drew widespread criticism. Former ITV News presenter Alastair Stewart said: ‘This is obscene and devalues anything and everything you have to say.’

Cambridge University distanced itself from Dr Gopal’s ‘gratuitous comment’ but defended her right to express her views. 

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The report, published on Wednesday, said factors such as geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture and religion were found to have more impact on life chances than racism.

The findings drew criticism from the likes Baroness Lawrence, whose son Stephen was murdered by white thugs in 1993, said it had ‘given racists the green light’. 

However, in a joint statement released on Friday night, the committee raised concerns about abuse they have received in recent days, including from those in Westminster. 

They highlighted a tweet from Labour MP Clive Lewis showing a picture of the Ku Klux Klan with the caption: ‘Move along. Nothing to see here. #RaceReport.’  

The statement said: ‘The deeply personal attacks on many of us by politicians and other public figures are irresponsible and dangerous.

‘For example, one MP presented commissioners as members of the KKK. Robust debate we welcome.

‘But to depict us as racism deniers, slavery apologists or worse is unacceptable.’

Commenting on the report, they said: ‘We have never said that racism does not exist in society or in institutions. We say the contrary: Racism is real and we must do more to tackle it.’

They added: ‘The facts and analysis we presented challenge a number of strongly held beliefs about the nature and extent of racism in Britain today.

‘Sadly, however, in some cases fair and robust disagreement with the Commission’s work has tipped into misrepresentation.

‘This misrepresentation risks undermining the purpose of the report – understanding and addressing the causes of inequality in the UK – and any of the positive work that results from it.’

Dr Sewell has faced particular criticism about his foreword, with some accusing him of ‘glorifying’ the slave trade.

The education consultant and ex-charity boss called on schools to use history lessons to ‘tell the multiple, nuanced stories of the contributions made by different groups that have made this country the one it is today’.

He said there was a new story to be told about the ‘slave period’ that was not all about ‘profit and suffering’.

They highlighted a tweet from Labour MP Clive Lewis showing a picture of the Ku Klux Klan with the caption: 'Move along. Nothing to see here. #RaceReport'

They highlighted a tweet from Labour MP Clive Lewis showing a picture of the Ku Klux Klan with the caption: 'Move along. Nothing to see here. #RaceReport'

They highlighted a tweet from Labour MP Clive Lewis showing a picture of the Ku Klux Klan with the caption: ‘Move along. Nothing to see here. #RaceReport’

In the statement last night, the commission said there had been a ‘wilful misrepresentation by some people’ of its view ‘on the history of slavery’.

‘The idea that the Commission would downplay the atrocities of slavery is as absurd as it is offensive to every one of us,’ they added.

The row comes after a racial equality charity became embroiled in a race row after tweeting a racist slur at a black Tory commentator.

The Race Trust faced a furious backlash after the post branding mixed-race political pundit Calvin Robinson, who is of Afro-Caribbean descent, a ‘house n***o’.

The Race Trust, founded by Aysha Khanom, vows to ‘change the language and understanding of the social construct of race.’

Following the heated discussion, a tweet appeared from The Race Trust’s account directed at the pundit which read: ‘Calvin Robinson does it not shame you that most people see you as a house n***o?’

Conservative political advisor and commentator Calvin Robinson, who was branded a 'house n***o' by a racial equality charity who tweeted the racial slur at him

Conservative political advisor and commentator Calvin Robinson, who was branded a 'house n***o' by a racial equality charity who tweeted the racial slur at him

Conservative political advisor and commentator Calvin Robinson, who was branded a ‘house n***o’ by a racial equality charity who tweeted the racial slur at him

The Race Trust faced a furious backlash after the post which branded the mixed-race political pundit, who is of Afro-Caribbean descent, a 'n***o'

The Race Trust faced a furious backlash after the post which branded the mixed-race political pundit, who is of Afro-Caribbean descent, a 'n***o'

The Race Trust faced a furious backlash after the post which branded the mixed-race political pundit, who is of Afro-Caribbean descent, a ‘n***o’

Speaking on Sunday’s programme, Mr Robinson explained how he personally had seen a rise in vile racist attacks this year from some people who considered his Black identity to be incompatible with his Conservative views.

He said: ‘There has been increasing racism this year, I personally have experienced more racism this year than I have in my entire adult life.

‘That’s because of Black Lives Matter and critical race theory being pushed. This idea that there’s an appropriate way to be black.

‘For example I have been called bounty, uncle Tom, house n***o for not having the right opinion.’  

Speaking at the time, a spokesperson for The Race Trust said the tweet was ‘ill informed’ and the employee who sent the tweet was ‘no longer part of our organisation’. 

A spokesperson added: ‘This was not posted by Aysha Khanom or the current employees and we do not share the same view as the one post. We have apologised as has Aysha Khanom.’ 

Responding to the slur, Mr Robinson said: ‘There seem to be elements in our society that want to divide us.

‘It’s sad because in this country people have equal opportunities, we can become anything we wish if we work hard and focus.

‘It’s very telling that every time I share a message of unity, these divisive forces attack me for it. Every time I say we’re stronger together, they try harder to split us up.’ 

Now we must shatter the tyranny of the woke mob, writes school co-founder KATHARINE BIRBALSINGH CBE 

Katharine Birbalsingh is the headmistress of

Katharine Birbalsingh is the headmistress of

Katharine Birbalsingh is the headmistress of 

The landmark report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities caused a sensation.

Commissioned in the wake of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests last summer, and led by a panel of distinguished experts from a range of fields, it concludes that Britain is a model of a successful multi-ethnic society: a ‘beacon to the rest of Europe and the world’, as the commission’s chairman, Tony Sewell, put it.

Does that mean that there is no racism in Britain? Of course not — far from it. The report rightly states that ours is by no means ‘a post-racial society’.

And yet across its 264 pages, the report nonetheless ends one of the most enduring myths of the woke Left: that Britain is irredeemably racist.

As a headmistress of Indo-black Caribbean heritage who has spent a lifetime working with inner-city children, I have experienced the challenges of our multicultural country on the front line, as well as its many joys.

That is why I was most intrigued to read the report’s conclusions about education — even though it also focuses on areas such as employment, the criminal justice system and health.

Pictured: Police officers from the Met kneel in solidarity at a Black Lives Matter protest in the wake of the death of George Floyd who was killed by police in Minneapolis in May last year

Pictured: Police officers from the Met kneel in solidarity at a Black Lives Matter protest in the wake of the death of George Floyd who was killed by police in Minneapolis in May last year

Pictured: Police officers from the Met kneel in solidarity at a Black Lives Matter protest in the wake of the death of George Floyd who was killed by police in Minneapolis in May last year

Some people in our society see racial injustice everywhere they look. Only last week, the Guardian newspaper ran an ‘exclusive’ story claiming that, in some local authorities, exclusion rates for black Caribbean pupils in English schools are six times higher than those of white pupils.

A comment page on the newspaper’s website was headlined: ‘British schools are institutionally racist.’

Yet the new report delves into some of these issues in a sensitive and nuanced fashion, and comes to some intriguing conclusions.

It reveals, for example, that average GCSE scores for Indian, Bangladeshi and black African pupils are above the average for white British children, even though black Caribbean children do fare worse.

Does that mean that the British education system is ‘racist’ against black Caribbean schoolchildren, but not black African ones? I sincerely doubt it. Something else is clearly at play.

In the case of those excluded black Caribbean pupils, families, culture and values must be part of the discussion.

How much ‘drill’ and ‘grime’ music do the pupils listen to? How involved is the father in their lives?

Are there trust issues between the parents and the school? How much do they use their smartphones? It is high time that we — and especially woke social-justice warriors — began asking these questions and engaging in a serious conversation about these issues, rather than pretending everything comes down to race.

Pictured: Ryan Leonard of Millwall kneeling in solidarity with Black Lives Matter during the Sky Bet Championship match between Millwall and Derby County at the Den on December 5, 2020

Pictured: Ryan Leonard of Millwall kneeling in solidarity with Black Lives Matter during the Sky Bet Championship match between Millwall and Derby County at the Den on December 5, 2020

Pictured: Ryan Leonard of Millwall kneeling in solidarity with Black Lives Matter during the Sky Bet Championship match between Millwall and Derby County at the Den on December 5, 2020

As a society, we should be working to help all children succeed in good faith — and we should be interested in the truth about how to enable them to do so. Only then can we lead them to success.

Don’t get me wrong: racism does exist in Britain, though happily there is far less of it today than there was all too recently. At school in the 1980s, I was often called appalling, racist names.

A generation earlier, during the 1960s, my black Jamaican uncle — who married a white Englishwoman — was regularly spat at in the streets when he walked hand-in-hand with her. There is simply no comparison with the Britain of today.

And yet, as the report acknowledges, racism and discrimination do persist.

Studies show, and I know from personal experience, that if a candidate for a job sends a CV with a ‘white’ name, they are more likely to be shortlisted than if the same CV has a typically non-white name.

That might be down to crude racism, or it might simply be that the interviewer feels a greater affinity with a name they recognise — in much the same way that we all might feel a greater affinity with a stranger from our home town or who went to the same school or university as we did.

Nowadays, I am invited reasonably often to appear on panel discussions and to advise organisations. I often ask why they have approached me.

More than once I have been told: ‘Well, to be honest, you tick the diversity box for us.’

Demonstrators hold placards outside the National Gallery during a Black Lives Matter protest

Demonstrators hold placards outside the National Gallery during a Black Lives Matter protest

Demonstrators hold placards outside the National Gallery during a Black Lives Matter protest

They might mean well, and of course this is a long way from ugly racism and abuse.

But I often wonder whether these people can accept or understand that they have failed to judge me as an individual. Instead, all they can see is my race and, to a lesser extent, my gender.

The fact is that it is human to make snap judgments about someone based on superficial calculations such as accent, clothing — and even race.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you are a ‘racist’ — but it does mean you should beware of making such calculations and the implications of doing so.

That is why I don’t get angry and join a Black Lives Matter protest when I’m told I ‘tick a diversity box’. Instead, I forgive the other person their silly error and put it down to them finding it difficult to ‘see past’ race.

Some, indeed, would argue that it is all the more difficult to see past race when that seems to be all the country is talking about these days. I think there is some truth to this.

If we want to treat other people as fairly as possible, we should all be questioning our biases and assumptions.

If you are an employer, it is a good idea to examine your own biases regularly, if only so that you are able to employ the best person for the job, whatever their name. The same goes if you are a teacher.

Black Lives Matter march through Clapham led by Forever Family Force (pictured) last August

Black Lives Matter march through Clapham led by Forever Family Force (pictured) last August

Black Lives Matter march through Clapham led by Forever Family Force (pictured) last August

It is unfortunate that the woke brigade have made it so difficult to have this much-needed nuanced conversation on race.

So prevalent is the scourge of ‘cancel culture’ today that many people understandably fear losing their jobs after being called out as ‘racist’ simply for saying the wrong thing. Others are scared of losing their friends. The tyranny can be overwhelming.

As the new report rightly says, the solution is not ‘unconscious bias training’ — even though taxpayer-funded bodies from the Metropolitan Police to the NHS and BBC have all implemented it in the past.

The commission’s report makes a bold and brave stand against it, arguing that it ‘alienates’ staff with a ‘baseless’ narrative of ‘white privilege’ and all too often amounts to a ‘tick-box exercise’.

No, the true solution is clear: education. Good teachers and good schools allow any underachieving group to rise over time and climb the ladder of social mobility: that is why I have spent my life fighting for a better education system.

As yesterday’s report rightly says: ‘Education is the single most emphatic success story of the British ethnic minority experience.’

The commission’s report has ended the woke mob’s divisive idea that Britain is racist to its core once and for all.

  • Katharine Birbalsingh CBE is headmistress and co-founder of the Michaela Community School in London.

 

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