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Joining the dots - Racialisation of bodies.

Updated: Aug 18, 2022

Hi. So in the last 3 days the UK government and related agencies have released two very interesting reports

The Commission on race and ethnic disparities report into insitutional racial discrimination in the UK, and secondly the NICE evidence review on Gonadotrophin releasing hormone analogues and their use as puberty blockers in young children.

I figure these might be worth a few words: Lets take the institutional racism first

Commission on race and Ethnic disparities: the report.

This report concluded with 24 recommendations including:

  • Challenge racist and discriminatory actions

  • Review the care quaintly commissions inspection processes

  • Improve the transparency and use of artificial intelligence.

  • Replicate the factors of education al success for all communities

  • Invest in proven interventions through better targeted funding

  • empire pupils to make more informed choices to fulfil their future potential.

  • Build social and cultural capital – enrichment for all

All of which sound great right? However ... context here is the key. Some extracts from the report:

The ‘Making of Modern Britain’ teaching resource is our response to negative calls for ‘decolonising’ the curriculum. Neither the banning of White authors or token expressions of Black achievement will help to broaden young minds. We have argued against bringing down statues, instead, we want all children to reclaim their British heritage.

There is a new story about the Caribbean experience which speaks to the slave period not only being about profit and suffering but how culturally African people transformed themselves into a re-modelled African/Britain.

In case you're wondering yes you read that right - a UK government report suggesting slavery was a good thing since it changed the cultures of those it enslsaved to make them more like their captors. The report goes on to say:

Put simply we no longer see a Britain where the system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities. The impediments and disparities do exist, they are varied, and ironically very few of them are directly to do with racism. Too often ‘racism’ is the catch-all explanation, and can be simply implicitly accepted rather than explicitly examined.

The evidence shows that geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture and religion have more significant impact on life chances than the existence of racism. That said, we take the reality of racism seriously and we do not deny that it is a real force in the UK.

The purpose of this report is to provide the UK with a road map for racial fairness. There are still real obstacles and there are also practical ways to surmount them, but that becomes much harder if people from ethnic minority backgrounds absorb a fatalistic narrative that says the deck is permanently stacked against them. Armed with the rich data from the RDU, we have aimed to dispel some myths and reach a more nuanced view.

Creating a successful multicultural society is hard, and racial disparities exist wherever such a society is being forged. The Commission believes that if these recommendations are implemented, it will give a further burst of momentum to the story of our country’s progress to a successful multicultural community – a beacon to the rest of Europe and the world.

So - lets get this straight - in the opening pages of the report on institutional racism in the UK, the Chair of the report Tony Sewell suggests that he doesn't believe that which he is investigating actually exists!

So what the actual problem here? Well I want to illustrate this by use of a quote from an author: Audre Lorde:

"There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single- issue lives"

What the report has done is attempt to separate the issue of race in this country from the effects that ones race might have on ones life, and very narrowly define what racism is, such that very few occurrences will meet its definition of racism. Even Slavery, that exemplar of racist capitalistic exploitation is re written as merely the mechanism of a socio-cultural change that ended up being 'for the better'! This naive and self serving view completely disregards the human cost to slavery and the injustices done to individuals who were torn from their homes, their humanity and autonomy absolutely denied by the ethno- nationalism of the 'White & British" establishment.

Take this example from a recent lecture I gave to my students:

This is from Savage et al, the great British class survey of 2013. If you are from a black or ethnic minority background your twice as likely to find yourself in the emergent service workers class. (service industry) than in any other class. If you're ambitious and want to move up to the new affluent worker class the likelihood is that its going to be a 44 yrs old white guy who's interviewing you. (since they make up 57% of that demographic in that class) Only 1 in 10 people in the NAW class will be from an ethnic minority back ground. Now look at the graduate section - the social mobility is easy to see. However one does wonder, whats the impact of being a graduate when you're also from an ethnic minority?

So if one is twice as likely to get a 1st class honours if one is white, and the largest proportion of upper seconds are from mixed ethnicity students what would this suggest? Who's marking the papers? According to Savage et al it is likely to be a 46 year old white female, roughly half of whom are going to be second generation management or professionally employed. Of course the the statistics show it's close to 1 in 4 white students getting a 1st , and 1 in 5 Black students, so no huge disparity. Yet the students have to get into uni in the first place, and those who are of minority ethic status cannot often get to university due to financial reasons which as we've already shown - stems from being stuck in service worker job roles.

So why is the commission on race and ethic disparities report bad? Because they have specifically separated cause and effect in order to deny the causation. They have separated socio - economic class from ethinicty and thus the effect of being both an ethic minority AND financially poor is split. This is the very thing Kimberlé Crenshaw fought when she coined the term 'intersectionality' way back in 1989 - and is the core central tenet of critical race theory (CRT) Remember that thing the government had Kemi Badenoch stand up in parliament and suggest we shouldn't want taught in schools?

Intersectionality looks at not just one metric but all of them intersecting as cause and effect and consequence relationships - Remember Context? This can of course massively change an argument - and I now want to revisit three of the reports recommendations:

Recommendation 6: Replicate the factors of educational success for all communities Invest in meaningful and substantial research to understand and replicate the underlying factors that drive success of high performing groups.

Recommendation 7: Invest in proven interventions through better targeted funding Systematically target disparities in education outcomes between disadvantaged pupils and their peers through funding, considering geographical variation, ethnicity, gender and socio-eonomic status.

Recommendation 13: Build social and cultural capital – enrichment for all Phase in an extended school day prioritising disadvantaged areas to provide pupils with the opportunity to engage in physical and cultural activities that enrich lives and build social and cultural capital.

What/who exactly are high performing groups? In what sense does this report recommend building cultural capital? Like the recent handling of the pandemic, the government seems to be recommending that the responsibility is on the person and individual to create their own success, and crucially - that if one wants create success then one has to "become more white" (or at least more conservative, politically and philosophically)

Remember this from earlier?:

'"There is a new story about the Caribbean experience which speaks to the slave period not only being about profit and suffering but how culturally African people transformed themselves into a re-modelled African/Britain."

This whole report amounts to a position that labels those who point out racial disparities as being being "un-british" and/or even worse, ungrateful to the the 'great British empire', that has afforded you such opportunity. Yet that opportunity is merely 'to be tolerated' and regarded as nothing more than a 'guest', subject to the denial of the heinous ways in which the ancestors of many British ethnic minority people arrived on these shores. This applies even when Britain is the place of your birth, as it is for Reni Eddo-Lodge who wrote:

"The journey towards understanding structural racism still requires people of colour to pritoise white feelings. Even if they can hear you , they're not really listening. Its like something happens to the words as they leave our mouths and reach their ears. the words hit a barrier of denial and they dont get any further"

From 'why I'm not longer talking to white people about race'.

To sum up Institutional racism in Britain, and indeed western culture at large, isnt a 'black and ethnic minorities taking about race" problem. Its a "White people don't want to talk, think, or hear about their violent past problem" And yet this report will open the door to persecution of those who point out this fact, since they themselves will be labeled as perpetrators and perpetuators of an unwanted conversation and inconvenient truth - and likely called "racist" as a result.

The intersection of context - race and gender

On the other hand the NICE report is an 'independent' report commissioned by NHS England ahead of Dr Hillary Cass's review of trans healthcare for children in the uk.

The review of current evidence looked at the use of gonodaotropihn analogues and their impact on

  1. gender dysphoria

  2. mental health

  3. quality of life

  4. body image

  5. psychosocial impact

There was evidence to suggest improvement in 1,2 4, and 5 yet not 3 - since no studies have been done on this specific point, however:

Points to note - Firstly gonadotropin puberty blockers were/are always used to in order to allow the younger person to mature to a point where they can make a decision about further treatment, and even then after significant screening. So its a subset of a subset of a minority of patients. So of course theres small amount of evidence. Further their use was/is as much to "prioritise the feelings of cis gender people" as it was/is to treat a trans gender child, thus they have a sociological basis as well as medical.

Second - evidence about quality of life is qualitative not quantitative. (if you don't know this difference in data studies it looks like an incomplete piece of research) Qualitative studies do not use or require control groups. So if you're looking for evidence regarding the quality of life for trans kids in quantitative sciences you're looking in the wrong place. Added to which is would be difficult to near impossible to measure an indirect metric that is a cumulative of multiple casualties and a-tribute it to one singular facet of life (as the commission on race and ethnic disparities has adequately proven) I

Third - NHS England is a corporate body - controlled by the UK government through the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) therefore HM GOV has indirect control of resource allocation and oversight, via the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

Fourth - Me as an adult patient had nurse refuse to give me this medication that I am prescribed just 2 weeks ago - and then pretend to administer it - (still ongoing) something I cannot prove without an ultra sound scan - but symptoms are there - headaches and other things. So already the discursive materialities that arise as a consequence of this government's culture war on difference are having an affect on the trans population in Britain.

Where are we headed?

One does wonder what the outcome of the report by Dr Hillary Cass will be if, as demonstrated by the report into institutional racism, The UK is currently lead by a bunch of facist authoritarians that are denying ANY discrimination exists on the basis of diversity and difference in this country - be it ethnicity/sexuality/gender/sex or anything else you care to mention.

Personal responsibility for the self (Neo liberalism) has been commodified to a point where even our very Physical bodies are not deemed to be anything other than commodities - and health care/work/success/existence is becoming a market - accessible to only those who belong to the majority, in ways that suit the majority. (i.e culturally white and culturally cis gender normative)

People will Die because of the governments stance of both these issues. Indeed Trans people 'ceasing to exist' is exactly the outcome this Government wants, hence they are making it all but impossible to transition in this country.

Don't be fooled - This isnt a self acceptance issue or anything to do with 'letting kids be kids" its about ONLY letting kids be 'not trans' - and, alongside the denial of any racial bias, keeping the population uninformed and focused inward so that the power stays where it is. If you doubt this - ask yourself how many time you've heard the phrase "Why are you always talking about trans issues? - you always want to make it about you - thats just self serving" aimed at trans people who point out this facet of the over all gendered conversation. (sound familiar - almost like trans exclusions aren't a trans problem, but a cis normative one that non trans people don't want to think about, right? ) So where are we going? why are these two seemingly very different issues linked? Good question - In short because there are two facets that are very entrenched in facist patriarchal thinking - and they are known as the "naturalistic fallacy" along with "hegemony" or what most people know of as 'Hierarchy' I'll write a specific piece on those two and link it back to this piece in another blog that leads on from this one, but thats it for now so stay safe and keep it stubbornly optimistic.

till next time.


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