Racism and Education: Coincidence or Conspiracy?

Racism and Education: Coincidence or Conspiracy?

Education policy is not designed to eliminate race inequality but to sustain it at manageable levels.

In this book he dissects the role of racism across the education system; from national policies to school-level decisions about discipline and academic selection.Race inequality is not accidental and things are not getting better.

Racism & Education takes critical antiracist analyses to a new level and represents a fundamental challenge to current assumptions in the field.

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Gillborns research is mostly focused on antiracism, and he uses Critical Race Theory to understand how white supremacy works. One of the parts of this that I found particularly interesting was research he had done that showed that black students would literally never catch up with white students at school and that, in fact, schools had set performance targets (you know, this is our best case goal because we like to aim high) that actually meant that the difference between white and black student achievement in schools would actually increase. People got upset with him about this saying that he didnt understand statistics and that clearly they were actually proposing a much greater improvement in black attainment when compared with white attainment. The school said it wanted to increase the white performance to 20 and the black to 10. That is, they wanted a 100% improvement in white performance but a 150% improvement in black performance, because they understand the nature of disadvantage and so more effort need to be put into improving these students attainment. That is, the gap is actually wider, while the school can claim to be working to narrow the gap (look, we improved black performance by 150%, while white attainment only went up by a measly 100%). Gillborns point is that white stereotypes of black behaviour are then enough to help them overlook what would otherwise be obvious markers of school readiness and to assess them as below standard. This book ought to make white people uncomfortable. As Gillborn makes clear in his last chapter, he doesnt really mean that there is a secret society of white people who get together and work out ways to disadvantage black people you can judge a conspiracy by its consequences, rather than the intention of those thus engaged. In fact, I would argue that recognising the role and that one was performing it were exactly the opposite of what Goffman was actually intending. You see, my problem is the argument Gillborn has used against the idea of performance that it is volitional is an argument he doesnt consistently use against the idea of conspiracy. A conspiracy implies people conspiring and, while I absolutely agree that there is ample evidence of actual conspiracies by whites against blacks, I actually think the situation is much, much worse than even such a conspiracy would imply. A couple of years ago I gave a presentation on my research and an academic in the room said something to the effect that I needed to be very careful with what I was arguing as it sounded like I was going back to 1970s Marxism with its ideas of false consciousness. This got under my skin and so I started reading well, first off some 1970s Marxists but then lots of people about the idea of false consciousness: Hall, Gramsci, Bourdieu. That is, they do understand that their life is crap, but that they end up blaming this crappiness on things that seem tangentially related at best to why foreigners stealing their jobs, blacks not working hard enough, Chinese investors buying up housing stock. This misrecognition, Bourdieu says, is like a magic trick (he doesnt actually say this, Im saying it for him) where you are encouraged to see what you ought to know you cant be seeing. Now, I know this isnt exactly what Gillborn is proposing, but I think it sort of is with his spoke and hub conspiracy idea. I guess my point is that it isnt a mistake, it is a kind of social corralling that happens because our society structures our tastes in such a way that makes certain choices almost inevitable. Her stuff about black people actively wanting the white person to win. But so many of the actions of black people amount to exactly that, as bell hooks repeatedly makes clear. But this book is full of instances where people say racism is wrong and then go on to do the most god-awful things that actively disadvantage people of colour. I think if we are ever going to change these ways of being, we need to literally change the way we perform these acts.

  • English

  • Education

  • Rating: 3.78
  • Pages: 255
  • Publish Date: April 1st 2008 by Routledge
  • Isbn10: 0415418984
  • Isbn13: 9780415418980