Teacher gives powerful speech on why the UK is "absolutely" racist

8 June 2020, 18:45

By Fiona Jones

This history teacher told Shelagh Fogarty why the UK is a racist country in a powerful speech.

This caller Vanessa says the question of whether the UK is racist answers itself "when you look at the outcomes for black people within the UK."

"Health, government, education, the criminal justice system, we see time and time again very very poor outcomes for black people.

"Whether that's young black boys being between three and six times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police through to being more likely to be sentenced, to be given longer sentences than white people who have committed the same crimes.

"Whether it's black Caribbean children having the lowest payment, in terms of GCSEs, being less likely to enter higher education, even when they do being more likely to drop out of university or receive lower classifications of degrees.

"The UK has less than 1% of black professors. Across the board, really really poor outcomes for black people."

Vanessa called for people to take emotion out of the discussion: "It's not about whether individual white British people are racist, it's about the systems and structures that underpin the country that are systemically racist and that's what we're trying to highlight."

Teacher gives powerful speech on why the UK is "absolutely" racist
Teacher gives powerful speech on why the UK is "absolutely" racist. Picture: PA

"It's highly irresponsible of Boris Johnson to use his platform to basically deny a problem that has always existed within the UK."

Vanessa cited the fact that black women in the UK are five times more likely to die within pregnancy and childbirth: "Why? Because the perception of black women being physically stronger. That has its roots in racism."

"Are we just inherently criminogenic? Is there something about us that makes us more likely to be criminals? That's racist.

"Are we just naturally less intelligent? That's why we're not achieving within the UK education system? The foundation of all those ideas is racism."

Vanessa told Shelagh that as a teacher she tries to flag up bias in the classroom, such as decolonising and diversifying the curriculum. She is told in response that nothing needs to change "because there is no problem."

Shelagh said it was also important to tell the positive stories of black people, so that black peoples' history is not always defined by slavery, to which Vanessa agreed.

Vanessa responded: "It's about being honest about the problems that are endemic to the systems and the structures that we navigate... you can't argue with these statistics, this is factual information that is out there. But nobody really wants to look at them, nobody really wants to unpick them and actually identify the problems underneath them."