one word .. just try it .. use it .. share it .. discuss it here
To look at Race in an equalist way, we don’t think we can do better than Trevor Phillips has in his Channel 4 programme: Things We Won’t Say About Race That Are True (first shown 19th March 2015 – click here to view it). Controversially but with huge experience and authority, in this 1 hour programme he uncovers how good intentions about ‘politically correct’ behaviour may have helped get us into a hell of a lot of trouble.
Of course – as he expects – nuanced debate and wider views of ‘facts’ must follow the tight argument with very selective facts presented in this programme to make a particular point. Watch Adam Elliott-Cooper doing an excellent corrective on Trevor Phillips (in just 4 minutes)!
But the argument is clear and rich and we recommend you take the time to watch it. However, since you may not have the time – especially with the adverts too – below are some extracted quotes and summarised bits. At the end Trevor Phillips concludes:
When you are able to look at the data without obsessing about racial prejudice, or being afraid of being called racist, you can start giving help to those who most need it. That’s true equality. The most important lesson I think I’ve learned is that preventing anyone from saying what’s on their minds won’t ever remove it from their hearts. People need to feel free to say what they want to without the fear of being accused of racism or bigotry. It means that we are all going to have to become more ready to offend each other. But that way we might save some children’s lives, and we might protect some others from abuse. And in time finally we can begin to see each other in our true colours.
To repeat: “When you are able to look at the data without obsessing .. you can start giving help to those who most need it. That’s true equality. People need to feel free to say what they want without fear … We are going to have to become more ready to offend each other. But that way we might save lives, protect from abuse. And in time see each other in our true colours.”
That has been our conclusion here on equalism too as the way to combine the principles of equality with respect for differences. Effective equalist communication may need a grasp of steady reason with some giving and taking of offence. But there’s no need for offence to be gratuitous or some kind of duty. Trevor Phillips and his TV programme also provide a great model for how we can discuss complex and difficult matters in an open and robust way.
Nick Child, Edinburgh
Update: Trevor Phillips featured in the BBC Radio 4 series “Why I Changed My Mind” (27 Apr 2016). This personal and moving interview makes even clearer why and what he presented in the C4 programme.
C4 TV programme 19th March 2015.
Caption: For a diverse society to succeed, do we have to get used to giving and taking offence?
Trevor Phillips: For 10 years I led Britain’s Equality Commission … Campaigners like me sincerely believed that if we could prevent people expressing prejudiced ideas then eventually they’d stop thinking them. But now I’m convinced that we were utterly wrong. In a world riven by racial and religious strife, some things are just too important to be left unsaid, even if they might offend people.
(7.10) There’s no prejudice in numbers. I don’t think we should be put off talking about ethnic patterns of behaviour because of what bigots and racists might say.
(15.20) None of these statistics [about race and crime – white specialty crime being drunk offences!] tells us why they’re true. But they are. I don’t think we should be shy about trying to find out what they mean.
(16.15) Simon Woolley: The danger is when (the talking) gets too lazy and uses catch-all descriptions. .. If it’s nuanced then fine. But if it’s this headline “You’ve got to do something about black gangs” it’s dangerous. … I don’t think you have to fudge it, dodge it. You just have to be articulate about it, and if you are, you can talk about it as it is without having this generic stuff, this lazy stuff. … We just have to be mindful .. smart.
(22.10) (Post 7/7 London bombing) So what had we all missed. … The ugly perversion of Islam that had led to this carnage would thrive only in isolated communities. .. The message was one nobody really wanted to hear … TP in Sept 2007: We are sleep-walking our way to segregation. We are becoming strangers to each other and we are leaving communities to be marooned outside the mainstream.
(23.00) What I had realised that summer is that it’s not about what you want to believe, it’s about what’s true. .. The belief behind the New Labour mission was that if we could solve the problem of discrimination then racial barriers would come down, integration between communities would naturally follow. But we’d reckoned without human nature. Left to themselves people prefer segregation. .. Sunset segregation: We may often be workmates but at the end of the day we tend not to be neighbours.
(26.30) Jack Straw: A lot of white politicians are nervous, lack confidence, about what their views are and think that someone will criticise them, call them racist.
(27.00) People of Jack’s and my generation believed that if you got rid of discrimination Britain’s racial divisions would heal with multi-ethnic London leading the way. But it just hasn’t happened. [Well over half a million white Londoners left London as its overall population grew by a million.] After the riots in Paris, we urged Paris to end the Moslem ghettos. Ten years later Charlie Hebdo happened. Segregation didn’t cause that, but it is one of the conditions for extremism to thrive.
(31.00) [Football is not as multi-racial as it seems. Lots of fuss about John Terry’s racist slur. But the continued exclusion of blacks from becoming managers is more shocking.]
(33.50) [Award-winning advertising campaign. Small racist brain advert – research showed it didn’t change a single racist mind. But many white people were made to feel they were accused of something they hadn’t done.]
(36.00) The rules of the (discrimination) game had changed and not entirely for the better. [Trevor as a child used to know the laws of race relations] 1. All blacks are alike. 2 All blacks are inferior. 3 All blacks are required to be subordinate and to know their place. Today few children black or white would accept those rules. .,. Martin Luther King … History shows that a noble set of aims just isn’t enough. … We start with good intentions, we turn those into a set of informal laws, and then they become dogma .. thought control, and worse. Unwittingly we gave birth to an ugly new doctrine that says 1. All whites are alike. 2 All whites are guilty and tainted. 3 No white person should ever criticise someone who is not white.
[Victoria Climbie case. Pretty well everyone who could have saved this little girl’s life said they cared, but were walking on egg-shells … of being accused of being racist.]
(39.20) [Rotherham 2003. Ann Cryer MP Keighly. Mothers told of their young teen girls groomed from school gates. Gangs nearly always from Pakistani community. No one will do anything about it. Never mentioned by Labour Party members who knew about it. Couldn’t make arguments without being called a racist. Last resort was to go public. … News eventually comes out. (41.45) Andrew Norfolk, The Times. Liberal journalist feared it would be dream story for the far right. Shame on me. … The accurate and compelling film commissioned by child protection chiefs to raise girls awareness accurately showed a 20-something Asian groomer. It was never allowed to be shown until it was re-shot with a teenage white groomer, and mixed race girl victims. Now we know that in many cities a huge number of white girls were groomed and abused by very predominantly Asian community young men. Effectively avoiding being racist condoned burgeoning abuse and crime.]
[Gordon Brown’s “bigot” gaff … one of increasing signs of political correctness ignoring the underlying wave of protest and changing view. Matthew Goodwin, political scientist, a group of voters that feel forgotten by the political mainstream, being left behind – older, white, not so well educated. UKIP has now given voice to them. TP: I left the UKIP event in no doubt that I stood for what is wrong with Britain today. Nigel Farage confirms Trevor’s own view that he was very much part of the problem of this faulty PC culture, that NF now says things that used not be said in politics and by the media class (i.e. what TP was part of) e.g. about immigration and race. TP says NF says that: Tony Blair / New Labour was the secret of NF’s / UKIP success now. TB: You have to understand the concerns people have but put the argument to them.]
(1.01.20) Whoever is in political power, tens of millions of voters across Europe think that the political elite favour the minorities at their expense. They also believe that if they say how they feel they’ll be called backward or bigots or racists or by the liberal establishment. … this is the raw power of the anger and resentment that Nigel Farage is riding.
We need to offer a new vision of a multi-ethnic society. … [Leicester school where the kids come from 35 different countries and speak 46 languages. Yet this is among the most improved schools. The head says that diversity is not a burden but a benefit. The children for whom English is a second language are outperforming those for whom English is their first language. The school records the performance of every child meticulously. Head teacher systematically analyses the data to know which children needs what attention. This year, the group that needs priority is: underachieving white British students. The very group that feels so forgotten by the elite are about to start benefiting from the way the system works in this school.]
(1.04.00) When are able to look at the data without obsessing about racial prejudice, or being afraid of being called racist, you can start giving help to those who most need it. That’s true equality. The most important lesson I think I’ve learned is that preventing anyone from saying what’s on their minds won’t ever remove it from their hearts. People need to feel free to say what they want to without the fear of being accused of racism or bigotry. It means that we are all going to have to become more ready to offend each other. But that way we might save some children’s lives, and we might protect some others from abuse. And in time finally we can begin to see each other in our true colours.
Transcription by Nick Child