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The government needs to end anti-Blackness in UK schools

Ife Thompson

Ife Thompson

Ife Thompson

2 min read

The UK government must adopt a BlackCrit approach to racial justice within the education system

There is an ongoing wilful failure to secure the rights of people of African descent in the United Kingdom which is leading to an endemic of anti-Blackness in UK schools that I witness, and seek to disrupt and dismantle through my organisation – Black Learning Achievement and Mental Health - BLAM UK.

BLAM members have written extensively elsewhere about how police presence in schools causes serious harm to young people, who are constantly subject to scrutiny, fears of racialised harassment, and interference in their day-to-day lives, triggering race-based anxiety. Policing in this country remains racially discriminatory and the policing that takes place in schools is no exception. Only poor and racialised schools are made into spaces that require constant police presence. Schools are supposed to be places of learning and safety, and having police in schools adversely impacts the learning outcomes of Black children and often unnecessarily funnels them into the criminal justice system.

Policing in this country remains racially discriminatory and the policing that takes place in schools is no exception

The children BLAM supports are also subject to anti-Black criminalisation by teachers, who have picked up invasive tactics adopted from the criminal justice system. One young Black girl we support was accused of smelling like vape smoke and was forced to show her bra to four different teachers, one male, and kept in a room without food, water, or the ability to call a parent before she was excluded. We successfully challenged that exclusion, although she had to move schools.

Excluding Black narratives from the curriculum and punishing Black children for their hair styles are further entrenched ways in which schools antagonise Black children.

As the BlackCrit scholars Michael J. Dumas and kihana miraya ross have said, our freedom must forge a “refuge from the gaze of white supremacy—where Black children dream weightless, unracialised, and human. Where language flows freely and existence is nurtured and resistance is breath. Where the Black educational imagination dances wildly into the night—quenching the thirst of yearning and giving birth to becoming.” The UK government must adopt a BlackCrit approach to racial justice within the education system if it wants to end the endemic anti-Blackness in UK schools.

Ife Thompson is a lawyer and the founder of BLAMUK and Black Protest Legal Support

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