EVENT TRANSCRIPT: Black Lives Matters: A force for Good?
DATE: 6pm, 9 September 2021
SPEAKERS: Inaya Folarin Iman, Calvin Robinson, Esther Krakue, Dr Rakib Ehsan
EVENT MODERATOR: Dr Rakib Ehsan
Dr Rakib Ehsan 03:01
Ladies and gentlemen if we could make a start to tonight’s event. Thank you for joining us for this Henry Jackson society event. Black Lives Matter UK a national force for good. And this event is based on an anthology that the Henry Jackson Society has just published on Black Lives Matter UK looking at the ideological messaging social narratives, and maybe we’re also missing from those narratives, when we are looking to talk about facilitating social progress and economic empowerment within Britain’s black communities. And I’m delighted to be joined by three of the writers who kindly contributed to the anthology, which was edited by yours truly, we have Inaya Folarin Iman, Calvin Robinson and Esther Krakue. Inaya is the founder and director of the newly established the Queen year project, which is a we can call that a debating forum, which is a promotes the exchange of ideas, particularly on issues of race and ethnicity. We have Esther Krakue who is involved with the, how would you say the transatlantic political initiative turning point, and this was a developing as a very prominent social commentator when it comes to issues of race in the British content context. And last, but not least, we have Calvin Robinson, a secondary state school leader and political educational consultant. So if I could kindly start what we’re going to be starting in terms of the event, I think it’d be good for our esteemed panelists to maybe talk a little bit about their personal contributions to the anthology. So we’ll actually start in chronological order in terms of how their writings appear in the anthology. So start with Inaya. Inaya, you talked a lot about in your contribution about how you could say almost, almost a normalization of Western left wing racism and To the extent where you will say that if you deviate from a certain script, especially if you are from an ethnic minority background, so essentially, if you reject this wave of left wing identitarian ism that we’ve witnessed in the last few months that you can expect to be abused, almost silence through intimidation, you could say, in a way. So in your view, being a, you know, having a background of being a free speech activist, how damaging do you think that is for more broadly British liberal democratic society play, especially in terms of making progression on race related issues.
Inaya Folarin Iman 05:43
So I think it’s incredibly damaging, I think we’re all very used to the racial thinking. And that’s what we understand, generally speaking, to be racism, thinking various different groups are inferior or superior or discriminating against people. And what we’ve generally understood it coming from is particularly the actually right, and that’s where it’s generally speaking, and continue to manifest if not an incredibly small number in the UK, and I think because it’s historically been associated, in particular with right wing movements. And at least, that’s what it’s been understood that the left have been part of the movement, generally speaking to kind of overcome racism, I think people have often ignored or trivialized it when it has come from other sections of society. And I think particularly, many of these kind of modern so called anti racist activists have exploited that sense of what I would regard as misguided moral superiority in order to impose an ideological conformity. And so what we have right now is this very rigid, identitarian notion based off of critical race theory and intersectionality. And this phrase that we hear, and very often is, you’re either anti racist, or you’re a racist, or what is not frequently told is that the conception of anti racism is a very narrow and specific form. So if you’re a white person, and don’t necessarily believe that you, for example, benefited from so called white privilege, that you’re experiencing white fragility, then you know, you’re you’re a racist in this worldview. But if you are an ethnic minority, and this is where the, my particular contribution focuses on, if you don’t think that your life is defined by racism, oppression and victimhood, and don’t affirm that narrative, then somehow you are inauthentic or what is said to be complicit in white supremacy. So it’s basically a losing game. And you can’t there’s no space for disagreement. There’s no space for debate. It’s either you believe this or you don’t. And so what we’ve seen, and particularly since the Black Lives Matter, movement is a rise in highly racialized insults, for many sections are very prominent against so called anti racist activists, particularly in the mainstream media, using racialized terms, like a kind of racial gatekeeper, or, you know, Uncle Tom, and all of these things, trying to use things that they think it would particularly hurt an ethnic minority. And that is some of the tactics that have been used to silence critics of this deeply ideological agenda.
Dr Rakib Ehsan 08:18
Thank you. I think that’s, I think that’s a fantastic summarization of the wonderful contribution that you made towards the anthology. And if good, move on to Esther. So estimate, maybe building on some of those points that in NIH is made. In your piece, you looked at almost the importation of divisive culture or politics from the United States, and you have a I guess, you’ve met, perhaps you have a unique insight being part of a transatlantic political initiative yourself. But if you could just kindly just talk a little bit about your piece. In particular, how divisive Do you think that importation is? And do you see, in your personal point of view, do you think there’s a growing interconnectedness between what we would call sort of left wing political activists in the British context, developing connections with their ideological counterparts across the pond?
Esther Krakue 09:11
Yeah, I mean, that’s definitely what I explored in my side of the piece because I what I noticed with the Black Lives Matter movement here in the UK, they were trying to import a lot of social realities, which I’m not really sure the extent of their realities in the US but definitely trying to transpose those realities onto the UK. So the, the process you saw some people shouting when shoot at the policeman, and our policemen are playing buttons, right? I mean, I don’t know how they took themselves seriously and shouting don’t shoot our policemen who don’t regularly routinely carry firearms. And but there were just a lot of issues that I believe are being transposed especially by Black Lives Matter UK, which is supposed to be a sister organization of the US, which I personally called the play, and because it is the playground of that organization, okay, it has not helped I don’t believe that help. Race Relations at all. I think it made the country a lot more divisive. It’s made, you know, what could have been constructive conversations about race and I think larger, what should have been largely about class, it’s made into sort of this weird and almost morphed version of what happens in the US, which I think was completely inappropriate, which is why a lot of the abuse that I received was from Americans, who would just really didn’t understand the context in which I was speaking and to, to really understand why hate the Black Lives Matter movement and organization in the UK. And even though I rarely call it the plague.
Dr Rakib Ehsan 10:36
So yeah. So you think that essentially, what one of the big problems from your personal perspective? Is it circumstances surrounding law enforcement in the United States? Do you feel that there is always like a misapplication of what’s going on there rather than the narratives which are being cultivated in the American context? Because there’s that growing interconnectedness between left wing activists based in Britain and their ideological counterparts in the US? You feel that there’s almost a it’s almost it’s almost the development of an anti police sentiment in Britain, based on the importation of the of these narratives associated with law enforcement in the American context? Would you say? That’s a fair assessment?
Esther Krakue 11:21
Absolutely. And I think it’s a complete misunderstanding of the UK in general, it’s a complete misunderstanding of how race and class works in the UK, as opposed to how it works in the US. I think it’s, and for me, I would even go as far as saying it’s kind of building this sort of hegemony of blackness, which is this kind of move towards a black nationalism, but it’s not a black nationalism, that you need. black nationalism in the sense that all black people in the world should be under this banner of what we see as progression for black people in black culture, everything sort of under that umbrella, which is why you would you would have people saying adults should be allowed to wear Jamaica, like Jamaica bikini, or bantu knots. Meanwhile, these people don’t know that she grew up in Tottenham, which has a large Caribbean diaspora, or, you know, a lot of these people can even point did you make on a map, right, but it’s kind of become this black hedging money that we are all one, you must all agree with us, we’re going to get outraged on your behalf even though we don’t understand the circumstances in which things happen. It’s not just about, you know, competing issues to us with the UK. It’s about creating this narrative of a black hedge money where American black American culture is king and everything they say, you know, all the blacks around the world have to agree with it, because we’re all oppressed, you know, brainless, people that are not white. And I really take offense to that, because it just shows a lack of understanding and it shows a wider, more toxic political movement that’s going on that’s trying to weaponize minority groups, in particular black people to reach ends that are not helping anyone,
Dr Rakib Ehsan 12:48
Okay, thank you, Esther. So we move on to Calvin. Calvin, in your contribution, based on your own professional background is mainly focused on it mainly focused on what you consider to be the growing influence of critical race theory in the English education system. If you could just talk a little bit about what kind of effect you think that ideology that those sort of ideological leanings, what kind of impact do you think that is having within the English education system?
Calvin Robinson 13:22
Well, I think CRT is infesting our education system in the way that we’re seeing what is often described as the soft bigotry of low expectations. I don’t think it is a soft bigotry, it is just typical bigotry. In the people who are non whites are perceived to have some kind of handicap or some kind of hurdle or barrier to get over. And it all comes down to the critical race theory that you know, white people are privileged, and everyone else is oppressed or some kind of victim. And the way we see this manifesting in schools is that the curriculum is being shaped in order to address what is a national issue or international issue and Black Lives Matter. And within the curriculum being altered and adapted in ways that are not critiqued. So things like white privilege, and all these critical race theory aspects of being put onto the curriculum, without any challenge, and there’ll be, for example, book lists, where kids are taught many other lodge or Robyn D’Angelo, without being given anything from the alternative perspective, such as Thomas Sewell or Booker T. Washington. So there’s a very much a one sided perspective being shoved on schools here. And I think it all comes down to an element of racism really in that we have. I’ll use the words Metropolitan liberal elite, who are see minorities as some kind of demographic that needs help. And it is a one homogenous demographic of BAME, you know, anyone that’s non white, and they need help, and they need help from from them. And that’s why they’re pushing their worldview pushing that narrative. I looked into the stats and kind of just So is this an issue? And actually, I don’t think that racism is an issue in our education system. I don’t think that race plays a significant role in English education. Because when I broke down this beam category into different subsections, I saw that actually, black African kids are doing really well, they’re actually doing fairly well exceeding white British kids are most other demographics. So that suggests to me that the system isn’t racist, and what’s racist is to perceive anyone that’s non white as having some kind of handicap that needs to be overcome. And we should be instead looking at ways of setting high expectations for all pupils, because then they’ll thrive, and then they’ll succeed.
Dr Rakib Ehsan 15:39
I think that’s, there’s some interesting points that you made there, Calvin, if you just talk a little bit more about there’s been a lot of talk about decolonizing the curriculum. So essentially, that people are supportive of those movements in terms of curriculum decolonization, their view is that historical black icons, they’re not included in the curriculum, the curriculum provisions, these figures do not feature. How accurate is that?
Calvin Robinson 16:08
Well, first of all, we don’t know. So people are saying, Oh, you know, we don’t have enough black figures on the curriculum, or we don’t have enough black history on the curriculum. First of all, we don’t know what’s actually being taught in schools. So they’re making that up off the spot. But what we do know is what’s on the national curriculum. And if we look at the national curriculum, there’s a very good balance there. Of course, we don’t split history up by black history and white history, which is current events and world events in British history as it occurred across the timeline. So it’s difficult to kind of put it into their terminology of what is black history, but we do have key influential figures like Rosa Parks and Mary Seacole, we do cover a lot of African American civil rights movement. For example, we also cover the British Empire in the colonies, and India and Pakistan and the divide. And all of this is on the national curriculum. So I’m not entirely sure what they want to add to it. But when they talk about decolonizing it, that’s when I worry, because then they’re talking about taking things off the curriculum. And the curriculum is shaped by subject matter experts. And it’s critiqued. And it’s, it’s, it is political. But it’s we look at what is the best that has been. And we try to teach that rather than reacting to current events. And when we’re looking at taking people off, because we find them offensive at the moment and just doing it in a rash decision, we need to take a step back and think actually, what do we need to be teaching and why?
Dr Rakib Ehsan 17:23
I think you’ve made some make some fantastic points there. Calvin, I think just going back to, if we could just go back to Inaya for a moment. So think Calvin, there is a sort of talk about how how we have a curriculum, which is which is more based on broader national inclusivity, you could say, as opposed to group specific interests. Do you feel that much of the issue with the EU? If we just look at the broader Black Lives Matter UK movement? Do you think one of the main issues there is that it’s just simply it’s just simply not interested in national cohesion at all? It’s not interest in the slightest in terms of in terms of building, you know, bonds, or social trust and mutual respect between Britain’s different communities? Do you think that’s a fundamental weakness?
Inaya Folarin Iman 18:13
Black Lives Matter, has actually fragmented since its inception, so obviously, it kind of started as as black lives matter. But actually, now we’re hearing a lot about black trans lives matter. And actually, what we’re seeing is it’s getting smaller, not actually getting broader. It’s not becoming a more Universalist conception, bringing in kind of a working class or more kind of cosmopolitan view, or, or a wider conception of blackness, that also includes people in Africa that might be suffering forms of subjection, or, you know, Afro Brazilians is actually narrowing. And I think that that’s actually the very inevitable consequence of an ideology that’s based off of a very fragmented view, it doesn’t have a kind of broader vision for society. It’s not future oriented. As you mentioned, it is not about kind of building bonds and solidarity and reaching across tribal lines. It’s actually seeking to fracture society and exploit those fractures in order to gain political or economic power. And so yeah, I would very much agree with that. It’s one that seeks to often institutionalize racial divisions and actually reify race as a meaningful category that must then define people’s everyday life. And, you know, obviously, the liberal tradition of anti racism is to kind of make race as meaningful as someone’s hair color or eye color. Black Lives Matter does the exact opposite of that.
Dr Rakib Ehsan 19:42
Thank you. I think just just moving to Esther, I think it’d be quite interesting to hear your thoughts in terms of when you look at the Black Lives Matter UK movement. I think just alluded to some of the points you made earlier about this idea of trying to cultivate or trying to almost create an imagined, you could say global black family? Although I don’t think that’s an unfair sort of description to use. What do you feel if you’re looking at Black Lives Matter UK but also just more broadly that the Black Lives Matter movement? Did you feel there’s instances of very serious forms of anti black discrimination which exists on a global scale, but perhaps because of maybe a sort of anti Western ideology? So for example, I’m looking at maybe perhaps anti black discrimination in countries such as China. Do you feel a because of that, because of that anti Western sort of sentiment, which may be contained within the movement? Those kinds of instances of anti black discrimination, they’re almost sidelined, aren’t they?
Esther Krakue 20:49
Yeah. And I think that was something that was I definitely highlighted was one of the biggest biggest flaws of the Black Lives Matter movement, particularly here in the UK. And that kind of just demonstrated what was actually in in what the organization was interested in the movement in general was interested in I, I’m someone who grew up and gone, I’ve had very, my dad is an engineer, I’m very familiar with the CCP, I’m very familiar with their activities in Africa, I’m very familiar with how black people are treated in China. And for an organization that says that, you know, seems, wants to kind of create this idea that, Oh, yes, Black Lives Matter for black people, but you don’t care that, you know, black people are being abused and kicked out of homes in China. And this covid 19 outbreak is being blamed on black people living in China. That wasn’t that wasn’t something that interested them. We don’t care about, you know, the millions of subs 1000s of sub Saharan Africans that are named in parts of North Africa, they don’t care about, you know, millions of other black people around the world that are actually facing real crises. But they they seem to want to transpose issues that seem to be unique to the black American community and transpose transpose those to the UK, as an attempt to kind of create this really weird, black family, we’re all black people, I’ve had the same experience. And we all share the same kind of flight to actually be recognized. It’s just ridiculous. And, you know, I always point out that black people in the US make up less than 5% of the black population on planet Earth, to have an organization that says Black Lives Matter, but completely ignores the problems of more than 80% of black people on planet Earth. It’s just ridiculous. And it’s not something that I could have taken seriously from its inception.
Dr Rakib Ehsan 22:23
Thank you, Calvin, if you could just, if I could just ask in terms of, you know, your personal experience, you know, you’ve talked a great deal in terms of, you know, pushing back on left wing identity identitarian ism, especially from people who are sympathetic, when do you support the Black Lives Matter UK movement? How, when you’ve pushed back, what have you found to be the general response from as well, those people who you’re pushing back against, but also more broadly, when we’re looking at people who are members of you know, London’s diverse black communities? Do you sense that there’s a very clear, do you feel that there is an emerging pushback, not just in the broader British society, but particularly within Britain’s black humanities, as perhaps their knowledge of the Black Lives Matter, UK movement has progressed or rather strengthened?
Calvin Robinson 23:18
Yeah, there’s a lot to the question. I think it’s been interesting to see the progression. So as everyone jumped on that bandwagon of Black Lives Matter, UK straight away, just because obviously, everyone thinks that black lives matter. But then they started to realize that this was a movement. This was an organization that had socially Marxist views against Western society against the family units against capitalism. So I have seen a few people starting to drift away from saying that black lives matter, because they don’t want to be associated with that organization. But at the same time, the majority of backlash after speaking out against CRT, which, let’s be honest, is, it is the hard left taking an ideology from the hard right, it is all about racial superiority, it is essentially saying that white people have a natural given privilege because of the pigmentation of their skin. It’s all about systemic racism based on our appearance, right? So a lot of black voices and a lot of white voices that are supporting Black Lives Matter have been upset by anyone speaking out against it. And every time I’ve spoken out against critical race theory in particular, but also sometimes black lives matter for using critical race theory. I’ve had you know, the obvious insults of I don’t know if I can say, I’m called a coon a race traitor, I’ve even had people say you you’re using your white privilege, Calvin and I’ll say well, but I’m not white. They’ll say, oh, you’ve got temporary or white privilege. Like what does that even mean? You know, it’s, it all comes down to their unconscious bias syndrome that everyone is racist by defaults. Unless you subscribe to their ideology or their theory of CRT. I find it very disturbing, actually. That they can’t accept any reasoned debate. There’s, there’s no way around it. And what I’m seeing as well is that you know, this hard life, this hard left activists have black lives matter. And people like the black curriculum who want to change what we’re teaching in schools. They’re supported by quite a lot of parliamentarians, I think there was about 30 MPs that signed the pledge to decolonize the curriculum, or to add more black history or whatever to the curriculum. So they’re getting members of parliament on board with their extremist ideology. That’s what disturbs me most of all, I think more than the insults that they throw at me.
Dr Rakib Ehsan 25:35
I mean, just building on a few key points that Calvin’s made, there was almost a bandwagon effect to an extent when there’s the emergence of Black Lives Matter UK. I guess in a way, it does show that in a marketing sense, the movement has been quite successful, or is it is part of that because the reality of the matter is with the messaging, there’s some people of course, they’ll say, yes, Black Lives Matter. But would you say that in a sense, in a, had there been certain organizations, Calvin talks about parliamentarians? Do you feel that there’s been a range of sectors rather, who’ve just been they’ve been too willing to buy into it without actually doing a bit of research or just trying to understand the main objectives of the movement?
Inaya Folarin Iman 26:23
I definitely think there has been a massive bandwagoning effect. And I think that there are very interesting reasons for that. I mean, the whole thing emerge, after everybody was, you know, stuck in doors during the lockdown, it was kind of this burst of energy that kind of really threw itself and catapulted to the forefront of public consciousness, and all of our attention was essentially on that. And so I think, from a kind of a marketing perspective, you know, that was where almost universally everyone’s attention was on. And so I think I’m if you are a kind of smart marketer, you want to be at the very front of that. And I think, you know, particularly in the culture of social media, and we have a culture very much where that’s how you signal your batch you, that’s how you signal your authenticity, by being, you know, adding your social capital to whatever kind of fad or movement is at the forefront. But I also think, and black lives matter as an organization is very, in line with what I would regard as a very elitist ideology, where you don’t, you never have to actually and propose meaningful solutions that get to the very root of issues. It’s all about being seen. It’s all about kind of very one dimensional, binary superficial narratives that supposedly explain all of the nuances and complexities of ethnic socio economic phenomena. So it’s very great, great for corporations that that don’t actually have to deal with some of the things that Esther was talking about, which is, you know, the continued suffering of many people that are racialized as black all around the world, you can actually be seen as anti racist by essentially putting, you know, a black square. And so I think I think many of those things go hand in hand. But also one final point on that out, I think it’s very interesting as well, how quick corporations have jumped on it, because I think, yeah, I think I think it just is simply, it goes hand in hand. I think it’s very elitist. I think it’s a road solidarity between people across various different cultural, or ethnic lines. And I think that’s very, not in a conspiratorial way, but definitely in the interest from distracting away from anything very meaningful.
Dr Rakib Ehsan 28:39
If I could just move and ask her, Esther, this question, when you’ve, you know, being very familiar with Black Lives Matter narratives, that prevailing narratives? Do you feel all too often the emphasis is not so much equality, but almost positive discrimination, in the sense that because of all these decades and centuries worth of perceived injustice, there needs to be very serious forms of positive discrimination in order to overturn those effects. So in a sense, this isn’t really a matter of equality here. This is almost about you could call it reverse discrimination, positive discrimination. And and that in itself, that that that could potentially lead to a cultural backlash couldn’t there in countries such as the UK?
Esther Krakue 29:26
Well, first of all, there’s no such thing as positive discrimination. It’s just discrimination. I, I mean, I find it very funny that you can talk about white privilege and in the same breath, support policies that actively discriminate against white people. I think it organizations like black lives matter. But when you see a black CEO of a company, being published in the newspaper, they will make the point of saying black CEO did it as opposed to just CEO because it’s so shocking to them that black people can actually make it to, you know, positions of prominence in And companies. And so for me, that’s that’s not progress. And it’s actually very insulting. I feel like to black people. And I don’t think that organizations I mean, for instance, there was this movement that people were boycotting businesses that didn’t publish how many black people they had. And I don’t know the top 20% of position. Ridiculous. just ridiculous. I mean, how is that helping anyone black? Alright, it’s making it seem as if black people are so incapable of achieving anything that you need bootleg organizations like black lives matter to make it seem like we’re all just downtrodden and oppressed, and we have nothing better to do and we can’t make it on our own. And it’s To me, it’s just, it’s just pathetic. I don’t think, you know, positive discrimination works. I think it’s just discrimination. I think it goes a long way to actually embedding this view in society that black people are just incapable. I mean, if you have people like, for instance, if I was having surgery, I don’t care what the rates of my surgeon is. But you have people that want to actively support measures that put black people not not in not to try and seek proportional representation in all fields, just visible fields and media and, you know, top finance level to corporate level positions not in you don’t want you don’t want a quota for black people for a sewage drain is no, no, no, no, no, you can’t have that you can’t have a quota of black people as hairdressers, you need them invisible positions, because that’s how you virtue signal. And that’s how you tell people, yes, we’re doing good. And yes, we’re helping those poor black people that can’t do anything for themselves. And it’s for me, I find it very offensive. And it also, you know, it makes us question whether black people can actually get somewhere without the help of these, what usually tends to be idle white liberals.
Dr Rakib Ehsan 31:36
Calvin, if I could just ask you to build on some of the points that Esther’s raised, you’ve talked about the socially divisive impact of critical race theory. More broadly. We could you could call it hard left identity arianism. I think it’s quite important. You do need to counter ideologies in that sense. If you want to neutralize the threat of hard left ideology, then counter ideologies, compelling, more socially cohesive, counter narratives are important. What do you think those kinds of counter narratives should be? And what kind of values perhaps they should be based on? Because reality marries, okay? There’s general consensus here in this event, okay. Black Lives Matter. UK movement, socially divisive, not very good for national cohesion. The interesting is we have to move the debate forwards in the sense, don’t we? So I think, what do you feel is the best way when we’re talking about hard left identity, but some people are just immersed in it, they’re just completely embedded in that you could call it that way of thinking, I think you can almost say the key there is more trying to create compelling counter narratives to ensure that people reject those ideologies, including those who may be flirting with them. What are your thoughts on that in terms of the kind of values and principles that should underpin those contrary to other gender narratives, Robert,
Calvin Robinson 32:52
So I think when we’re countering CRT and BLM, I think liberalism helps us because we’re looking at individualism, we’re looking at everyone, being a person, a human being an end of the day, doesn’t matter what color of skin you are. And then when we get to that point of the conversation, we can look at bringing those individuals back together and uniting them. And I think that comes down to the British flag that comes under British unity doesn’t matter. So in our schools, you know, we don’t we say, it doesn’t matter where you come from, where your parents are, from, what your race is, what your religion is, you’re all here, you’re all British. And that’s the thing that unites us. And then we can talk about British values, whether that’s the government prescribed ones of rule of law, democracy, and tolerance for an inclusivity of other people of different faiths or non or if we’re talking about British values, and Christian values, and moral ethics that shaped this country. But at the same time, it’s difficult to even get to those stages in the conversation to counter the arguments of CRT and BLM, because what they’re doing is very crafty. And they’re redefining language. So it’s difficult to debate with someone when the word you’re using means different things on each side of the argument. For example, to me, racism has always meant prejudice or discrimination against someone based on their race on the color of their skin or their ethnicity. But they’ve redefined racism to mean a power struggle between white people and BMS, for example. And again, that comes back down to that homogenous demographic of anyone that’s not white. But what we’re seeing here is the recreation of meaning. So these hard left groups are, like Black Lives Matter portraying something as fact, when it’s at best a theory in CRT and that is the epitome of propaganda. And that’s what they’re doing and they’re pushing this propaganda into our schools. It’s difficult to bet debate with because they’re redefining the language that we use.
Dr Rakib Ehsan 34:33
Inaya would you say just just building on some of those points that Calvin has raised? Would you see with some of the social developments which are taking place in the British context context, would you say free speech in the domains of race, ethnicity, discrimination inequality? Do you feel personally that free speech is very much under assault?
Inaya Folarin Iman 34:59
So, to kind of build on what Calvin said, I again, I very much agree with him that universal liberalism. Universal liberalism is the way forward. And this is not just this kind of sloppy theory, this is something that has actually been the very kind of consumption that has enabled us to make massive progress that we have made over the last kind of 100. And also 50 years in particular post the kind of civil rights movement in America. So this is something that has worked, I think you’ve kind of mentioned free speech. And I think part of the increase in many of these identitarian views, is a kind of reaction against many of these kind of enlightenment values, such as universal liberalism, such as freedom of speech, and there’s been a kind of, yeah, there’s been an exhaustion with the belief that democracy and many of these values can actually bring about the kind of progress that we’d like to see, even though it has done. And so I think all of these things are very much intertwined. And we’ve had an exhaustion with democracy of a very degraded view of human agency. So if you have a very low view of human agency, then you’re not going to believe in the kind of capacity of the individual, whether you’re black or white, to be able to act responsibly and move in the world in a positive direction in the way that kind of Esther was describing about the way that they view black people as victims. So I think, yeah, I think we’re facing a wider challenge society. And many of these movements are actually a kind of many different manifestations of this breakdown of faith in many of these achievements from the Enlightenment, but if we don’t have freedom of speech, and obviously, then we leave the territory up to authoritarianism, which is people rigidly defining the parameters to which we can converse. And we can never then solve difficult issues like what we’re talking about unless we’re able to have difficult conversations. And unfortunately, this is the kind of consequences of that.
Dr Rakib Ehsan 37:02
Thank you. And let’s see, if I can just ask the question, quickly, what what, what do you think is the most effective way to pushing back on this kind of, you know, this aggressive and in your view, socially divisive, hard left, you know, identity politics? What do you how do you feel is the most effective way in terms of neutralizing its impact in the British context?
Esther Krakue 37:27
I think two things. First, we should probably get black lives matter is a plague trending on Twitter. And secondly, we need more people to push back, I get a lot of messages from people that say, Oh, I’m scared to speak out, because you know, I have kids and am chicken or something. And they’re just terrified of actually making their opinions and their voices heard because of the backlash that they face. And I just say to them, Look, there are loads of people that are standing up that are, you know, kind of parting the Red Sea and walking through all the rubbish, and saying, this is what’s going on. These are people that are trying to weaponize a minority group, to its own detriment to the detriment of society. And if you don’t agree with it, you need to speak out, it’s just important to get people to be vocal and to actually highlight how destructive not only the movement is, but the organization is to everyone, not just black people. I mean, on the Black Lives Matter U?K website, they talk about dismantling capitalism, defunding the police, abolish, you know, the traditional family, just ridiculous things that no one signed up for when they actually agree with the statement that, yes, Black Lives Matter and whether all lives matter. You can’t even say all lives matter now. And you know, people you need to keep speaking back. And you know, making the point, I mean, look at the Premier League players wearing black lives matter on the jerseys. What if a player didn’t want to wear that? What would happen to them? And you know, I’m sure there were players in the Premier League that probably didn’t want to wear that on their jerseys, but anything because the backlash is ridiculous. But it’s just about pushing back and actually just making your voice heard, and making Black Lives Matters.
Dr Rakib Ehsan 38:57
So I think on that note, I think I’ve been I think in terms of also moving forward the debate, I think it’s, I think it’s also important to discuss when we’re looking at racial and ethnic inequalities in the UK, which is at the forefront of the national political agenda at the moment. To what extent are those inequalities? Or rather, what kind of role do internal cultural factors play? What are the problems within communities, and really, we have to talk about the fact that the British black population is extremely diverse. And if I just take one example, if you’re looking at trust in the local police force, 56% of people of black Caribbean origin have trust in the local police force, that corresponding figures shoots up to 76% for people of black African origin. Yeah, if you merge the whole black population England and Wales together, you get 70%. But that masks over very important differences between different ethnicities. So and I think all too often And in my view that that’s missed quite a lot to be honest. I mean, you have the bane, you know, the useless BAME acronym, but in a sense the term black in a way it does marks very important differences based on ethnicity and also plots, for example, when looking at trust in the local police force is 65% amongst black full time students, it goes up to 75% for black working class people. So you have those importance of it class dynamics there as well. I think it’d be quite interesting. And if I could just go to Inaya first, in terms of looking at racial and ethnic inequalities, if we’re looking to talk about social progress, economic empowerment, and building bonds between young British black people in particular and their public institutions, what could be Firstly, what are the problems that need to be identified and talked about? And then how can we move the whole situation forwards in a positive sense?
Inaya Folarin Iman 40:59
I guess this is the million dollar question. I mean, I think that some of the things that you described a really important ratio, concept of blackness is a really, really unhelpful one, actually, the kind of so called black population in Britain is genuinely one of heterogeneity. And actually, when we break down many of these statistics that are being used to paint a very negative picture, we find that the reality is much, much more complex. So for example, when we hear black, black boys are more likely to be excluded from school, that’s false, actually, black, African boys are less likely to be excluded than the general population. But black Caribbean boys are more likely. And actually, what’s really interesting. So according to the Office of National Statistics for the 16, to 30, age, black, for black, African, Caribbean, and British as a whole, there’s actually income parity with their white counterparts. And that’s very different from the generation before so are actually seeing significant levels of upward social mobility, but particularly for black, African young people. So it’s really, really interesting, that picture is much more mixed. But of course, there are definitely specific issues that persist. So for example, black people in general are more likely to be from single parent households, particularly black Caribbean. Families. And I think that this is an issue that we know has, is linked, at least to kind of behavioral issues in boys, and kind of all sorts of behaviors and going forward, particularly fit for for young boys. And I think that actually, we need to have important conversations about kind of fostering an ethic of lack of strong family unit, particularly in the black community. But also, I think, a wider cultural question about how we represent black people in popular culture. And I think it’s very interesting when we talk about representation. Again, as Esther alluded to, we talk about, you know, black people on boards, or black people, you know, SEOs, but actually, what’s very interesting, there’s huge cultural capital, and in Britain for black people being represented, you know, very much in music and deeply kind of nihilistic in negative ways. There’s no other pretty much no other ethnic group where it’s profitable to talk about, you know, killing one another. And I’m not saying that this is the root cause of like, criminality or violence. But I think it’s very interesting, the kind of normalization of certain what I would regard as toxic forms of kind of a gangster glamorization that is actually predominant amongst particularly young black using the inner city. So I think that there are definitely ethnic specific patterns of cultural behaviors that need to be examined. But as I said, in the beginning, it’s very difficult to look at it solely through the lens of race. There’s so many different factors at play there.
Dr Rakib Ehsan 44:02
Absolutely. Thank you for that. No. And I’m just going to ask Esther, we talk about those internal cultural norms, which may be problematic. Do you feel that they have really would you say, it’s almost stalling the social progress and holding out holding back? British black communities in the states there, especially in the inner city areas? Do you feel that they is hugely problematic? Do you feel actually, if you’re looking at the mainstream discussion? Do you feel that that’s not talked about enough?
Esther Krakue 44:36
Yeah, so definitely, I completely agree with your point. I think we’re just kind of normalizing a certain kind of black people. And this is my criticism of movements, like black lives matter because they’re pushing a narrative that effectively says it’s okay for black people to rap about killing other black people. It’s okay for us to say, Oh, look, this is a first the CEO of a company because apparently black people are not intelligent enough to make it to that position. We need to point out that The color of their skin. And, you know, there’s a certain narrative that’s being created. And I don’t even know if these people that are doing this all aware of that, but off the back of, you know, all these movements that they think is doing social good. And for me, it’s even even more. So it’s trying to create this homogenous black experience, which really infuriates me, because this just doesn’t exist. I think one conversation that’s very uncomfortable to have is the overlap between race and class. So for instance, people assume that because I’m black, or most people, most black people in this country have some sort of inherent disadvantage. But I’m more privileged than an unemployed white British guy that lives in a council estate in Essex, we don’t talk about that there’s a whole swath of the society that can be left up the conversation because they have the wrong skin color, right, a lot of issues in this country that come down that, you know, are associated with the lower levels of wealth, and lower job opportunities. And all of that comes down to class as opposed to race. I mean, what happened to you, Eastern Europeans living in the UK, that may not be living the most glamorous lifestyle, because they’re white, they’re completely cut out of the conversation. But you know, they’re technically not an Anglo Saxon or whatever. And it’s a very layered discussion that needs to be had that we just don’t have room for, because everyone just it’s now become a black or non white versus white or white versus everyone else. And it’s really infuriating.
Dr Rakib Ehsan 46:16
I think you make an interesting point. That is I had to add a conversation. I won’t name the individual but asked me are Polish people living in the UK a minority? Well, yes. I mean, if you are a Polish origin, yes, you may avoid skin very, you’re very much you are you are an ethnic minority in the in the in the UK. And Calvin, if I could come to you. So when we’re talking about in noise discussed a little bit about your, you could say family problematic family dynamics, that there’s a relatively high proportion of lone parents households within British black communities. Do you feel almost that, you know, the central that the centrality of this stable family unit that’s simply not discussed enough? In terms of the positive benefits they can reap?
Calvin Robinson 47:04
Yeah, absolutely. And we can see the statistics clearly show that I’m speaking from an educational perspective here that kids do better in school, if they have a two parent household, and they have that support of a family unit. That’s not to prescribe any particular set of to parents or anything like that. It’s just to say that that’s a better situation for kids to be in. But I did want to come back to what you guys were talking about, with the statistics about the subgroups and breaking away from using BAME as a category. Because I see that, you know, if we talk about school stats, for example, attainment, eight is a way that we measure kids that were there, how they’ve done throughout school, across eight different core subjects, we can see consistently, if you look at my report, you’ll see what we’ve gone back over the years, and we can see that black African kids outperform pretty much every other subgroup. So we’re talking about white kids, from British white kids, British, European kids, black Caribbean, kids, Asian, Pakistani, Asian, Indian, doesn’t matter, whatever subgroups, black African kids tend to outperform them all the way across school. So that’s in their attainment at secondary school. If we look at the results that they’re getting, black African kids reach 45 47.5%, whereas white British kids will get 46.1% and black Caribbean kids get 39.6% of passing grades. And then if we look at primary schools as well, the same situation is happening. And then we’re seeing black African kids reaching 67%, white British pupils at 65%, and black Caribbean pupils at 56%. So there clearly is a problem there, in that there’s some issue that needs to be addressed with black cobin children not getting the support they need. But while we look at black kids as a whole, that blanket BAME category kind of disguises the issues that are at play. And we’re also seeing an education that white working class boys are the most disadvantaged, they’re at the bottom of those ladders, we’re just talking about and they can’t get any support. They can’t get any address, because it’s taboo to discuss supporting white kids, especially white working class kids. And rack you mentioned, you know, Polish children in our schools, actually, the biggest influx of new students come from Poland. And I don’t hear any of these campaign groups like the black curriculum or black lives matter, talking about needing more Polish history on our curriculum. And I suspect that’s probably because then their president Andrzej, Duda is not aligned with their moral values. It just highlights that it’s political, isn’t it? It’s not about representation.
Dr Rakib Ehsan 49:33
As we’re nearing the end of the event, I think it’d be just quite be quite nice to end on a positive note, you can say, you know, we’ve made my fair share of criticisms of the Black Lives Matter UK movement. But it do you think, in a sense, are there any positives to be had in the fact that perhaps race related issues are at the forefront of you could say national politics, I think in any diverse society, there is going to be a degree of racism, there’s going to be, there’s going to be negative intergroup contact, I think that’s inevitable. But do you feel that there’s, do you feel there’s definitely improvements to be had in terms of reducing racial discrimination? This, this may not be only towards, you know, black British people. But we’ve also talked about in a way, the normalization of anti white bigotry. In the sense, do you feel at least it’s good that we are talking a little bit more about, you know, forms of discrimination, which are being faced by various groups? But or do you feel rather that the tone of it is more that it’s being weaponized, that there’s no enough people out there looking as in terms of having a solution oriented approach to the discussions, but it’s more about point scoring? Or rather, they’re not very productive discussions? And if you feel that at the moment that prevailing discussions are not productive? What do you feel what kind of changes can be made? Or rather, what should we really be focusing on to make those conversations more productive? And in terms of helping broader national progress? So I’ll start with Inaya there?
Inaya Folarin Iman 51:11
Yeah, a lot of questions. I remember. And yeah, so I think as much as I have profound criticisms of Black Lives Matter, I think that what it has done at the very least, is cause or necessitate a response, or what it has done is essentially force a lot of contrary voices, contrarian voices to the fore, and to provide an alternative perspective, and that has actually almost paradoxically, increased the level of debate and broadened it. And now it’s enabled us to actually have conversations like this would actually provide a different perspective to the one that’s being pushed forward. And so I think that this, yeah, that’s one of the problems, a lot of it isn’t solution oriented, it’s very reactionary. And it’s often it’s also very rooted in historical events. And there’s this kind of conception that you censor or alter the past in order to solve solutions in the present day, which is obviously a false one. And so I think, yeah, I think we have to have a very forward facing future oriented, and vision. And that encompasses many of the things that we have been talking about. So I think we have to re articulate and kind of values of champion in the Enlightenment, again, I think that this has often this has actually exposed the kind of very degraded conception of the freedoms that we have and what we’ve worked so hard for. And I hope that it is a massive wake up call for a lot of people that actually, you know, perhaps what is happening in Portland in America might be the potential future unless we really grab a hold of what we value and what what we hold dear. And therefore I think that means re articulating the kind of content of your character, not the color of your skin, and the importance of respectful kind of dispassionate discussion and debate. And I think I’m, yeah, hopefully inspiring more political authority. I think this kind of only come from the bottom up. Yes. Am I really agree that ordinary people in their workplaces, in their schools, it with their friends, do you have a massive role to play in and stepping up and challenging bases has to come from the grassroots, I also think we have to put massive pressure from from the top down. I mean, you know, we had Winston Churchill boarded up, that didn’t have to happen, we’re not even having kind of basic law and order at this point. So I think that we’ve got to have a lot more pressure put on people in positions of authority to basically, you know, defend the very basic standard of our, you know, of our civilized society. So I think it’s a top level thing and a bottom up thing.
Dr Rakib Ehsan 53:51
Okay. Thank you for that Inaya. And Esther, I think this may be building on some of the points that Inaya made, do you feel that in a sense, we say more broadly, the political classes? Do you feel that there’s not enough? There’s not enough action, you can say when it comes to this rise of, you know, workers at heart hard left identitarian ism? Do you feel that, you know, Inaya talks about the bottom up, you know, sort of grass roots challenge to these kinds of divisive narratives which are being cultivated in British society. But do you feel there’s almost a lack of moral political leadership on this front when it comes to pushing against the what some people would consider to be divisive, radical ideologies?
Esther Krakue 54:36
I think a lot of people at our political class a lot of leaders in our political class and just positions of power and are sort of like a police sheep. They’re a spineless, I think what this has demonstrated is that a lot of people leading this country actually don’t know what they’re doing. They’re spineless. They can’t even, you know, enforce, you know, basic sense of order in society. Right. I mean, we’ve had we’ve, and, I mean, we can see that being reflected in, you know, the reaction to the protests and the fact that there was virtually no government leadership, I’m pretty sure Boris Johnson was stuck in his basement or something the entire time. But it’s really there was no leadership. At the top, there was no direction, you have a movement, like Black Lives Matter. And everyone’s so scared to say anything about it that, you know, you leave the country effectively in disarray, because one, you’re not showing any sense of leadership, you’re not showing any sense of direction. But you’re also leaving, the vast majority of people are actually concerned that this movement, which is largely reactionary, and largely very racist, as well, is getting a hold of this country and is infiltrating aspects of our lives in ways that we don’t even expect. I mean, we can’t even watch a football game for goodness sake. Without these overpaid young men to shove this ideology and this movement down our throats, there is no direction. Everyone is too scared to say anything. There was a letter being an email that was being circulated amongst employees of Her Majesty’s land registry that we’re saying, you know, don’t actively criticize black lives matter, because you you will upset our ba me staff. I mean, just ridiculous. What does that have to do with her majesty’s land registry, there is no leadership anywhere, this, this country has just been infiltrated by these left wing thugs. And nobody’s saying anything, because everyone is too scared of being called racist. And people need to realize that being called racist, not a necessarily true and be not the worst thing that could ever happen to you.
Dr Rakib Ehsan 56:38
Thank you, Esther, for that typically explosive analysis. Calvin, if you could kindly finished off. I think really, I don’t think it’s a controversial view to say that there’s been a good number of MPs within the Labour Party, the opposition party in particular, which I’ve entertained and expressed support. For the Black Lives Matter UK movement, we have a conservative government 80 seat majority, when we’re talking about pushing back, but also providing a vision for the country, which is inclusive. It’s a big question to us. But where do you feel at the moment that government hasn’t done so well, and how it can improve in terms of cultivating an inclusive national identity, which in a sense, it not only challenges hard, you know, neutralizes the threat of hard left identitarian ism, but also challenges the threat of hard right, ethno nationalism, it’s a big challenge, but it can the Conservative government be doing more on that front? Or at least talking about, you know, these kind of narratives, which can, you know, almost trying to trying to defeat the extremes?
Calvin Robinson 57:52
I think this is a cultural issue, not necessarily a political issue. I think we as people need to be doing more and you know, so that being called racist isn’t the worst thing that could ever happen to you. But sometimes it can be because people are getting canceled as part of this canceled culture. And what we need to do is stop doing that we need to start listening to people having reason to debates. And you said earlier, one of your questions was, has this helped has this helped raise the conversation around race relations, I don’t think it has helped. I think it Stoke racial tensions where they weren’t on to begin with. And it’s difficult to stamp that out. In my sector in education, I’m seeing white kids going home crying, upset, because they’ve been taught that they’re racist, and black kids being a bit hesitant about being friends with white kids now, because they don’t want to be oppressed. And that didn’t happen before people stopped seeing color for a long time. I think this is this is one of the most tolerant diverse, inclusive nations on the planet. And we’re kind of going backwards at this point, we need to stop seeing color. And to say that even against CRT is against the BLM method, because that will be you know, unconscious bias. We need to go back to what Martin Luther King said. He said, I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character and I live by those words.
Dr Rakib Ehsan 59:05
Okay. Thank you. Thank you, Calvin. I think that was a wonderful way of rounding off the event. I’d like to thank the three of you Inaya, Calvin, and Esther for being such wonderful panelists for tonight’s event. Black Lives Matter UK and national force for good. And I’d like to thank our online audience for joining us for tonight’s event. I hope you found it to be an intellectually stimulating conversation.