Does it matter if you’re Black or White?

Here we are June 2020…

Have things changed? Are we better? Are things better? Is the world cured?

Sadly, no.

Just remember the events of the world are like a ‘cloud, for some they provide shade, for some they provide darkness. For some they make them seem abnormal, some reassured and strengthened; others made to feel fragile and insecure.’ (Young Muslims, Pedagogy and Islam.)

I have been trying to pen this post for a few days now, but struggling to articulate what I want to say. Please excuse my garbled language, and somewhat illogical structure, much like the world today, my words may jump all over the place.

For a long time, I have been a small voice in addressing the disparity between BAME; Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic Educators #BAMEed was borne as a result of this small voice.

People of Colour (POC), Global Majority (GM), or whatever your preference is to be referred to as, I mean I long for a day where we are just called by you know, something simple like say, our name. But then we have the problem of people trying to pronounce them right! 😉

(Just as a side note, Black as a term has always been used politically to signify anybody that isn’t white…)

Anyhow, back in 2015, I wrote about whether you could BE ME IN EDUCATION– BeMeinEd.  (Back then I guess, BME was the popular term. However, as an Asian educator, I obviously loved the inclusion of the letter A, when BAME was the phrase that started to be used.) It is also the most common phrase that is used now. Nevertheless, the inclusion of the word Asian, led me to think further about me, and my involvement in this all.

Me.

In the 2015 blog I mentioned how if you follow Steph Green’s ‘i Model’ that you need to look at events/oppression such as racism through these lenses.

  • Personal– What does it mean to me?
  • Interpersonal– How do we do it?
  • Institutional– What do institutions/organisations do?
  • Internationally– How is it enforced?

However, I do not think I understood the actual model fully back then, in regard to what Steph Green, a tutor at Ruskin College Oxford was actually saying. What I *think* she meant, which now, incidentally makes more sense is that how ‘injustice, discrimination and oppression are reinforced by different realms.’

Personal/Internal:

You need to build a strong, resilient internal self in order to be anti oppressive.

‘Questioning our own beliefs and attitudes and building an understanding of the oppression we experience and the way we oppress others is crucial.’

So, what do you do to achieve this?

Unconscious bias training, I HEAR you chant.

Is that it?

Please note, once your unconscious biases have been highlighted to you, is the next time these occur mean you have done these consciously, and therefore intentionally?

What about better recruitment processes? Do you attract enough candidates to your posts or do you simply feel that they do not apply. WHY?

#BAMEed as a grassroots movement has referenced Paul Miller’s work on White Sanction in its very first conference.

Miller states:

‘There was a shared view amongst the participants that, for black and minority ethnic academics and teachers to progress in England, they need ‘white sanction’ – a form of endorsement from white colleagues that in itself has an enabling power.’

Ref.

Miller talk’s of how white colleagues, (in positions of power) may need to act like a ‘brokering’ service, in order to ‘approve’ or ‘sanction’ the work of BAME colleagues.

Does this ring true to you? What is the affect and effect of this? Are you in the position to do this…

Are you in the position to benefit from this…

I have personally used the phrase,

‘we need more than to have the door open to let us in the room, we need a seat at the table for who we are.’

So, how will you make this happen?

What will you do?

What can you do?

#BAMEed has produced a variety of resources to help you in the first instance… check them out…!

In particular, check out the document where @Muna_Abdi_Phd has written guidance on How To be an Ally.

Opening up ‘doors’ is also the reason why BAMEed is not just for BAME/POC/GM educators, but for all. We need everybody from bottom up to top down to work collegiately.

We need people in positions of power to make a difference, to feel uncomfortable and to share their platform.

Now, this often makes SOME BAME or non-BAME educators uncomfortable; common rebuttals I hear are:

  • I believe in MERITOCRACY– so do I, however, at the moment it looks more like a ‘MIRRORTOCRACY’. Think of whether you have heard the phrase, ‘they remind me of me.’
  • ‘I got here, through my own hard work, and I did not need anybody, if other’s want to succeed they can do it too.’ No DOUBT this is a lovely thought process to hold. I somewhat agree with this too, however, I have always been one to promote the challenge to the idea, you can’t be it, if you can’t see it, by stating, ‘Be The First.’ Nevertheless, seeking support, guidance and help does not diminish your success.

Now, there are many more, challenges, such as ‘I don’t want people to see my colour’ and so on. I however, do want you to see my colour. See all of me. I will write more on this soon.

ALSO- I don’t want you to treat me differently as a result of my colour, but I want you to treat me fairly. The notion of equality is one that gets chucked in at this point when thinking of being ‘colour blind’, but should everybody be treated the same.

We can’t, we aren’t all the same, not in this current climate any way.

So let’s treat everybody fairly, always.

Interpersonal:

This is one that’s been beating me up, have I personally raised awareness of the plight of Black people for example during the countless deaths in America; have I written about Black Lives Matters, have I RT details, or shared info?

Sadly, not as much as I should have done.

A colleague pointed out recently that there has been a distinct lack of tweets from some people around the latest atrocity in America; George Floyd’s death.

I have been reflecting since. Steph Green talks about how…

We build of our understanding of the oppression we face. We experience it by examining it with other people who also experience it.

So, here is my wake up call; there is no point in talking about oppression if I ‘oppress’ others myself.

I am sorry for not being in solidarity enough.

Institutional

Steph Green talks about how we are ALL involved in a multitude of areas that interconnect us all, we indirectly pave the way to many forms of oppression with or without knowledge, however,

Collective action, building alliances and working together across our differences are essential if we want to challenge oppression.

So what do we do?

We collectivise, we work together, whether you have a reach in, reach out model, way of working and so on.

So will you join me?

Remember when we are asked to question our selves, our morality, we are ingrained to hold the default position, that I am a good person. (Kuber-Ross 1970.)

Nevertheless, this table below summarises what I am feeling, quite perfectly.

Screenshot 2020-06-01 at 21.48.27

Join us?

While you are here, you may want to check out these posts which have recently got me thinking…

Thank you both for sharing.

 

3 comments

  1. Such a powerful and thought provoking blog, thank you. I will be forwarding to my MLT colleagues for discussion this week.

  2. […] For the last 11 weeks I have regularly said to close friends and family that I feel a deep shame in being English right now, I am embarrassed by the mess that our country is in, I am ashamed of the state of our government. For the last week, I have also been feeling ashamed of being white. Like this: Related. Does it matter if you’re Black or White? […]

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