The Centre for Research in Race and Education

Tue, 26/02/2013 - 12:00
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By Dr Phil Edwards-According to the Guardian, the mother of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence has condemned Britain's "old boy network" as she launches the UK's first institution to improve the educational performance of black and ethnic minority students.

She says that the government had lost its focus on race and that rich white men still tend to prosper, while opportunity and equality for many "seems to be going backwards", and that graduates with names that sound non-English find it much harder to secure job interviews.

The Centre for Research in Race and Education is based at the University Of Birmingham and will “…promote racial equality and aim to boost the career and education prospects of black and ethnic minority people”.

Doreen said that black students were less likely to get top degrees than white classmates – and that qualifications were “not enough” to protect people from racism.

More about this later – but first a recap on what’s been happening in the failing race relations industry during the last few months as they gear up for yet another onslaught against the people of Britain, whether it be through sport and their “Kick it Out” campaign, or through our own home-grown version of the Holocaust - the Macpherson/Stephen Lawrence industry.

It started in December 18th last year – predictably – in the Guardian, when black hack Hugh Muir wrote about “…the first of our series of interviews with the newsmakers of the past 12 months” – step forward Doreen Lawrence.

Muir revels in reminding us that in the 2012 Olympics “..There was widespread approval for the decision of Danny Boyle and Stephen Daldry to put Doreen Lawrence centre-stage in east London, because she exemplified the phenomenon whereby one person's struggle throws up deeper truths about a time and a community”.

“Without her family's doggedness there would have been no viable police investigation, no spotlight on the iniquities of the police and criminal justice system, no Macpherson enquiry, no Race Relations Amendment Act, no focus on institutional racism”.

If only.

The Guardian also revealed that Doreen was annoyed that having written to Nick Herbert, the then new policing minister, no reply was forthcoming after requesting a meeting “ see what we have been doing over the years and to see how we could work together”.

But by December 23rd Muir was able to announce that, thanks to the mighty Guardian: “It has emerged that 24 hours after Doreen Lawrence castigated ministers, accusing them of backtracking on the government's commitment to equalities, the prime minister and deputy prime minister penned a joint reply from Downing Street aiming to reassure her and to bolster the government's credentials”.

Now, Stephen’s brother Stuart has entered the fray, getting good publicity in the Daily Mail with a long feature article, and moaning about how he says he’s been pulled over by the police, not for any motoring offence, but simply, it would seem, because he is black.

“For in certain parts of London, a young black man still appears to be equally ‘suspicious’ in the minds of some police officers, no matter how law-abiding he may be” foams the Mail.

No doubt a few “racist” coppers will be put on public display before the year is out.

Of course, the Lawrence family have our sympathy for what happened 20 years go, but using those events to punish white people as “racists”, our society and its institutions as “institutionally racist”, changing our laws, upsetting the police, as well as stirring up racial tensions – all of these things don’t help community relations.

A year ago I emailed a leading QC at the Matrix chambers (the law firm involved in the Macpherson enquiry) about his January 2012 Guardian article on stop and search, asking whether in their stop and search, are the police acting out of experience or out of prejudice?

His reply:

“Many thanks for your email. In answer to your questions: I am not sure about the underlying basis of your question. Stop and search should not be based on experience or prejudice.

Other than in very specific and carefully defined circumstances it should only occur when there are reasonable grounds to suspect that an offence has been, or may be committed.

Unless that guiding principle underpins practice then vague notions of police "experience" or "intuition" can become a well-meaning but dangerous disguise for lazy stereotyping.

Over the years I have seen many cases, professionally, where this has been the case.”

I wonder just how the average copper would interpret that opinion when facing dangerous criminals in the streets.

But back to Doreen and the new centre – according to the Guardian (Feb 16) she says "We want a society in which not just the opportunities but also the outcomes for education and career success are fairly balanced across all ethnic groups.”

Yes, having fairly balanced opportunities is – at least in theory – possible but how do you guarantee fairly balanced outcomes?

It’s a bit like adjusting the position of the starting blocks in a track event, allowing for the differences in the length of the lanes or some other physical handicap (ie “equality of opportunities”) but to guarantee “equality of outcome” would require the race to stopped part way through and further adjustments made, which is absurd.

Professor David Gillborn, educational sociologist and the director of the new centre, said it was critical that inequalities in the education system were addressed and that the centre would talk to teachers, parents and policy-makers to try to make progress.

He said: "There is a widespread assumption that racism is no longer an issue in education. But across the board, in experiences and outcomes in primary, secondary and higher education, there remain significant ethnic inequalities. However, race is no longer on the political agenda in the way that it was."

"Significant ethnic inequalities" - there's a thought.

Dr Nicola Rollock, the deputy director of the centre, said that it would concentrate on how racism manifests itself in everyday life.

"Race and racism are often seen as being only about issues of far-right extremism or the random rant of a person on a train," she said.

"In fact race and racism shape the lives of many black and minority ethnic groups."

"The random rant of a person on a train" - another thought..

I e-mailed Professor Gillborn asking whether they will be taking into account – if only for a complete and comprehensive assessment – the evidence widely published in psychology journals indicating lower average IQ of people of black (sub Saharan) African ancestry as compared to indigenous British people and East Asians.

His reply: -

“The centre will certainly be involved in debates about the numerous possible causes of inequalities in educational achievements.

As someone who has worked in the field for some time, I have already addressed the pseudo-scientific nature of the IQ-ist arguments at some length in books and journal articles. It would be nice to think that, in the 21st Century, we could leave such nonsense behind but I doubt that human progress has yet achieved such a state”.

So, the director of the new Centre for Research in Race and Education dismisses the lifetime of academic research by many eminent psychologists and scientists as “pseudo-scientific” and “nonsense”.

We should be very worried.

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