Adrian Hart of ‘Don’t Divide Us’ has written an article, see below, outlining his concerns about the council’s Racial Literacy training in the city's schools.
It is followed by Councillor Hannah Clare’s response.
Three Little Words
Critical-Race-Theory… Who would have thought these three little words had the power to trigger such controversy. Last June, when our council revealed that ‘CRT’ was its lens for understanding racism (‘rife’, it claimed, in the city’s schools), I’m not sure any one of them knew what CRT meant. Council leaders insist that the CRT training for teachers, dubbed “Racial Literacy 101”, merely asserts the common-sense fact “that we are all one human race, and that race is a social construct…”. “As a council”, said the Chair of the Children, Young People and Skills committee (CYPS), “we believe that racism is not just the product of individual bias or prejudice, but something embedded in our systems…”. A council schools policy document describes racism as “entrenched” in society and specifically in “school systems” – the problem is “structural” and “systemic”.
And it’s here that we come closer to an appreciation of what CRT really is. Its anti-racism (clearly) but not as we know it. ‘Race’ certainly is a social construct - we can agree on that, but the new CRT missionaries rebuild the concept in – literally – the black and white terms so ironically reminiscent of traditional racism.
The teachers successfully trained by the council’s ‘Racial Literacy’ programme will henceforth view the world through a CRT lens. They will show they understand how our society, its systems, its schools are formed around a single, almost timeless, entity – ‘white supremacy’. They will understand that idle fantasies such as Martin Luther King’s dream for a colour-blind future were in fact delusions. They must denounce such a foolish view and recognise the miserable truth which is that racism permeates every social structure and interpersonal relationship you can name. It is, in fact, hard-wired across centuries. Indeed, a council CRT expert told me that maybe, just maybe – with the right kinds of state education – the vice like grip of white supremacy might loosen in a hundred years or so.
Of far more concern to Brighton parents is the vice like grip of near-religious levels of belief in ‘Racial Literacy’ training for pupils. It sends a shiver to imagine that our kids might, courtesy of BHCC, be treated to the ‘White Supremacy Pyramid’ graphic. This power-point slide appears in the teacher training. Designed to illustrate the operation of overt and covert ‘white supremacy’, the pyramid image shows ‘lynching’ and ‘genocide’ at the top, supposedly created and reinforced by attitudes like ‘colour blindness’ at the bottom. Doubtless, the intended ‘learning outcome’ is when a pupil realises the causal connection between Kings (racist) principle of colour blindness and racist murder.
Let that possibility sink in for a moment. That’s right. Like many of you, I’m lost for words too. Well, almost (I have three). To the council let us all scream please Don’t-Divide-Us! It’s the name of our campaign. Please join us: www.dontdivideus.com
Cllr Hannah Clare’s response
Racism and our anti-racist school’s strategy
We’re very fortunate to live in a thriving, multi-cultural city with the undoubted benefits that brings. Sadly, we also live in a society where racism exists, and where our young people suffer racism in schools. For instance, 55% of 15- and 16-year-olds report having seen racism in school, with 12% experiencing it. Local police statistics show race hate crimes are rising. We developed our anti-racist education strategy and training pack with experts in education after school leaders and staff asked for our support. They wanted help in understanding how racism impacts young people and advice on how to prevent and respond to it.
Racism often stems from ignorance and a lack of understanding about another person’s culture. That’s why educating young people about race, its history and its issues is so important, and why everyone, including teachers and education staff, must feel confident and supported in speaking about it. The strategy was approved by councillors in November 2020 and is part of our proud pledge to be an anti-racist city.
All councillors are offered the same training as teachers so they can see materials for themselves and also benefit from speaking to practitioners.
The strategy provides a range of support to schools, including:
- Support for children, young people and families who experience racism
- More teaching of Black history and culture
- Recruitment of more diverse schools’ staff and governors
- Responses to racist and religiously motivated incidents
The strategy and training pack aren’t compulsory, and individual schools are free to use them or not. However, we’ve received very positive feedback from schools and overwhelming support from the city’s Advisory Council for Religious Education, plus parents, pupils, councillors and community organisations.
The strategy has faced criticism from some who don’t understand or don’t agree with our approach, and unfortunately most media coverage has been inaccurate and politically driven. For example, the council isn’t breaking the law. We recently met government representatives who agreed with us.
I can also assure you we’re not, as some claim, ‘brainwashing’ our young people or making our White children feel guilty.
The bottom line is we all want our schools to be places where every child, no matter their skin colour, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity can thrive. Somewhere they feel safe, valued, cared for and understood. I’m confident our anti-racist school’s strategy and training materials will help achieve this.
Councillor Hannah Clare
Deputy Leader, Brighton & Hove City Council Chair, Children Young People and Skills Committee