Racial Harassment seems to be common in British Universities, but largely ignored by them.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission recently conducted an Inquiry into Racial Harassment in Universities.

The findings from the inquiry are broken down into three reports, all published in October 2019.

Survey of University Students

This was a short online survey (7-8 minutes) which was completed by just over 1000 students. Ethnic minorities were deliberately over-represented to boost the sample size of some of the smaller sub groups (roughly 50-50 white to ethnic minority sampling).

The survey reports that:

  • Just over one in ten of all students (13%) had experienced racial harassment since starting their course.
  • Around a quarter of students from an ethnic minority background (24%) had experienced racial harassment, compared to 9% of White students.
  • Men were twice as likely as women to have experienced racial harassment (16% and 8% respectively).

The main types of harassment experienced

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Only 33% of cases reported

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The report notes that the main reason for not reporting (cited in 44% of cases) was that the victims had no confidence that the matter would be dealt with effectively.

Survey of Universities

The EHRC’s survey of universities reveals that they receive very few complaints of racial harassment from either students or staff. The report notes that:

“Institutions received an average of 2.3 complaints of racial
harassment of staff and 3.6 complaints of racial harassment of
students between the start of the 2015/16 academic year and
January 2019.

This equates to roughly one complaint for every 1,850 university
employees and one complaint for every 4,100 students since the start
of the 2015/16 academic year.”

Main reason for reporting racial harassment

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the main type of harassment reported is verbal…

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Confidence levels in the reporting figures.

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56% of staff are confident that the above figures are accurate, slightly lower for students

Outcomes of reports for harassment

Less than 40% of cases for students, and only 17% for staff result in some kind of redress fro the victim…

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A few problems with the methodology of this study…

  • It’s not clear how the students were sampled (it doesn’t say in the report) – this may be a self selecting sample – students who have experienced racism are maybe more likely to take part.
  • There’s a lot of problems with subjectivity over definitions of terms, and whether some of the incidents being reported are actual harassment. Students reporting that they’ve been eluded from events on racial grounds for example – it’s very difficult to prove this is because of race, and I’m fairly sure it doesn’t count as harassment.

Conclusions

According to students in England’s universities, the experience of racial harassment is common place, with 13%, or roughly 1 out of every 7 students having been a victim of some sort of unfair treatment on the basis of race.

If we look at just ethnic minority students, 24% believe they have been a victim of racial harassment.

However, the universities seem to be largely oblivious to this – they only record 1 incident per 4000 students, which is so far away from the stated figures that the students themselves.

Maybe more worryingly 55% of universities think their own recordings are accurate. I think we can at least conclude from the above survey of students that this is something they may need to investigate!

Finally, if 33% of cases of harassment are being reported to universities, they are certainly not being recorded, again something which seems to suggest that universities are ignoring the issue!

Find out more

You could investigate the above reports for yourself, and even check out the qualitative findings if you like!

Cecile Wright: Racism in Multi-Ethnic Primary Schools

This classic ethnographic study suggests that teacher stereotypes and labelling have a negative impact on Asian and Black Caribbean students in primary schools

This classic ethnographic study of four inner city primary schools suggests that the teacher labeling of ethnic minorities leads to them having a more negative experience of school than white children.

The study took place In 1988-1989, and was published in 192. The main research methods included classroom observations and interviews with both school staff (teachers, managers and support staff) and the parents of some students.

The study involved researching almost 1000 students, 57 staff and 38 parents.

Wright’s main conclusion was that although the majority of staff seemed genuinely committed to the ideals of treating students from different ethnic background equally, in practice there was discrimination within the classroom.

This study seems to be great support for the labeling theory of education and suggests that in school factors are one of the main reasons for the underachievement of ethnic minority students.

Asians in Primary Schools

Wright found that Asian students were often excluded from classroom discussions because teachers thought they had a poor grasp of the English language. When teachers did involve Asian students they often used simplistic language.

Asian girls seemed invisible to teachers and they received less attention from teachers than other students. Teachers often showed insensitivity towards their cultural norms such as disapproving when Asian girls wanted to maintain privacy in PE when getting changed.

She cites one example when a teacher was handing out permission letters for a school trip saying to the Asian girls: ‘I suppose we’l have problems with you girls. Is it worth me giving you a letter, because your parents don’t allow you be be away from home overnight’?

Wright concluded that such stereotypical comments from teachers resulted in other students becoming hostile to Asian students and the Asian students becoming isolated.

It also led to the Asian students becoming more ambivalent towards school. For example, when the school introduced a celebration of Asian culture into the curriculum while Asian students did express some pride in having their culture recognized, they also felt concerned that this might lead to more teasing and harassment from white children.

Teachers did, however, expect Asian students to be academically successful.

Black Caribbeans in Primary Schools

Teachers expected Black Caribbean students to be poorly behaved, and they expected that they would have to be punished as a result. Teachers were also insensitive to the fact that many students would have been victims of racism.

Wright cites the example in one class of a student called Marcus who was frequently criticized for shouting out the right answers to questions, while white students were not.

Black Caribbean students received a disproportionate amount of teachers negative attention. Compared to white students whose behaviour was the same they were more likely to be:

  • sent out of the class
  • sent to the head teacher
  • have privileges removed.

Trivializing Ethnic Minority Cultures

Teachers often mispronounced words or names related to minority ethnic groups, causing white students to laugh and embarrassment to ethnic minority children. According to Wright this situation made ‘minority ethnic values and culture appear exotic, novel, unimportant, esoteric or difficult’.

Racism from White Students

Minority ethnic students also experienced racism from other students which made their life even more difficult. White children often refused to play with Asian children and frequently subjected them to name calling and threatening behavior. Both Asian and Black Caribbean children had to suffer intimidation, rejection and occasional physical assault.

Conclusions

Wright does point out that all of the above disadvantaging of ethnic minority students is unintentional. Schools and teachers do appear genuinely committed to the values of equality and celebrating multiculturalism, they’re just very bad at putting these into practice and their actions have the opposite effect!

Wright believes that some Black children are disadvantaged as a result of their negative experiences in primary school, and this holds them back at later stages of their school career.

Evaluation of the study

The study doesn’t explain why Black Caribbean are held back by negative experiences in primary school when this doesn’t seem to affect the later achievement of Asian children as badly.

The study has been critizied for portrayign ethnic minority students as the passive victims of racism. In contrast, studies by Mirza and Mac An Ghail see students as responding much more actively (and in much more diverse ways) to racism in schools.

Maybe obviously, the date! This is from the late 1980s!

Sources

Adapted from Harlambos and Holborn (2013) Sociology Themes and Perspectives, edition 8.

Cecile Wright (1992) Race Relations in the Primary School.

Are schools institutionally racist?

Based on available research evidence I would conclude that schools are not institutionally racist

One sociological explanation for differences in educational achievement by ethnicity is that schools are institutionally racist.

This means that the school system as a whole is racist, or that schools are organised in such a way that children from ethnic minority backgrounds are systematically disadvantaged in education compared to white children.

If schools are institutionally racist then we should find evidence of racism at all levels of school organisation – both in the way that head teachers run schools and the way in which teachers interact with pupils. We might also expect to find evidence of racism in government policies (or lack of them) and regulation.(OFSTED).

What might institutional racism in schools look like?

There are numerous places we might look to investigate whether schools are racist, for example:

  • The curriculum might be ethnocentric – the way some subjects are taught or the way the school year and holidays are organised may make children from some ethnic backgrounds not feel included.
  • We could look at school exclusion policies to see if the rules on behaviour and exclusion are biased against the cultural practices of students from particular ethnic backgrounds.
  • We might look at how effectively schools deal with issues of racism in school – do the victims get effective redress, or is racism just ignored?
  • We could look at teacher stereotypes and labelling, to see if teachers en-mass have different expectations of different ethnic groups and/ or treat pupils differently based on their ethnicity.
  • We can look at banding and streaming, to see if students from minority ethnic backgrounds are over-represented in the lower sets.

Below I summarise some recent research evidence which may suggest that schools are institutionally racist…

A disproportionate number of GRT and Black Caribbean students are excluded from schools

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) children are 5 times more likely to be excluded from school than white children, while Black Caribbean and Mixed White and Black Caribbean students are three times more likely than white children.

I’ve included the temporary exclusion rates below as you can see the difference (you can’t really see the difference with permanent exclusions because the percentages are too small to really show up).

Source: Pupil Exclusions, published January 2020

Whether or not these particular ethnic minority students are being excluded because of institutional racism is open to interpretation, and is something that needs to be investigated further. There is certainly qualitative research evidence (see below) that both groups feel discriminated against in the school system.

Schools punish Black Caribbean Pupils for Hair Styles and ‘Kissing Teeth’

Campaign Group ‘No More Exclusions’ argue that schools with strict exclusion policies are unfairly punishing Black Caribbean pupils for having different cultural norms to pupils from other ethnic backgrounds.

They cite evidence of Caribbean girls having been temporarily excluded for having braids in their hair, while other students have been sanctioned for ‘kissing teeth’, a practice mostly associated with Black students.

Such exclusions are mainly being given out by Academies with strict ‘zero tolerance rules on student behaviour, but according to David Gilborn there is a problem of discrimination when black Caribbean students are being disproportionately sanctioned as a result.

In defense of this policy, Katharine Birbalsingh, head of Michaela Community School in London, which enforces very strict rules on behaviour, argues that we should expect the same standards of behaviour from all students, and that Black students know that ‘kissing teeth’ is rude, and so should be punished for it.

Source: The Independent (no date provided, just lots of adverts, but it must be from late 2019 as it links back to a previous article from October 2019. )

Gypsy, Roma and Traveller children feel excluded from mainstream education

Professor Kalwant Bhopal has conducted research with GRT children and found that they don’t feel represented in the school curriculum: parents believed that their histories were not adequately represented, and were uncomfortable with sex education being done in school, as this was something usually done within the family in their culture. In short, it sounds as if they are experiencing the mainstream school curriculum as being ethnocentric.

Parents and pupils also claimed that they had experienced racism from both children and teachers within schools, however, when they reported incidents of racism this tended not to be taken seriously as they were white.

Source: Find out more details at this blog post here.

Racist Incidents In Schools Are Mainly Dealt with by Fixed Period Exclusions

According to a recent Guardian article (September 2019), Hate Crimes in schools rose 120% between the years 2015 and 2018. There were 1987 hate crimes recorded by the police in 2018, of which 70% were recorded as being racist. This means that approximately 1500 racist incidents occurred in schools which were deemed serious enough to warrant police involvement.

Now this won’t be all hate crimes going on in school. Adult hate crimes only have a 40% reporting rate, and this might be lower for crimes against children given the increased levels of vulnerability, naivety and anxiety .

Schools handed out 4500 fixed term exclusions for racist abuse in 2017/18, but only 13 permanent exclusions.

Source: Permanent and Fixed Period Exclusions, DFE, July 2019.

If the under-reporting rate is similar for children as it is for adults and if most of these racist crimes aren’t ‘very serious’ then it seems that schools are doing a pretty good job at dealing with Racism, even if they are not always involving the police. This certainly seems to be backed up by the case study below…

Case Study 1: How One School Dealt with its problem of racism:

Some pupils do experience racist abuse from other pupils. One example is the case study of eight year old Nai’m, a boy who moved to from Bermuda to Britain with his mother in 2017, who was a victim of at least five racist incidents in a year. (article link from January 2020)/

His mother was contacted by the school when one student, apparently his friend, called him a ‘black midget’. Another pupil told Niam’h that his parents had told him he wasn’t allowed to talk to black or brown people. Niam’h plays football for his local professional club and says a lot of racist name calling occurs on the football field.

Besides Niam’h being a victim staff at the school where this incident happened (The Lawrence Community Trust Primary School) had also overheard racist comments from other students – such as ‘go back to your own country’ being directed at ethnic minority students and discussion about skin colour between students.

The school seems to have taken measures to address this problem with some of the racist attitudes being verbalized by some students by taking the following actions:

  • they seem to have excluded at least one student
  • they encouraged Niam’h to give a special assembly on Bermuda
  • They called in Anthony Walker Charity to deliver a presentation to students on Racism

Conclusion: Are schools ‘institutionally racist’?

The above is only a small selection of evidence, but based on what I’ve found I’ve got to conclude that they are not.

Sources, find out more

I’m not so sure Stuart is the victim of someone playing the race card…

Alastair Stewart recently resigned his position as a news reader for ITV, following accusations that he’d made a racist comment towards someone on Twitter.

Stuart was having a twitter conversation with Martin Shapland about the relationship between the taxpayer and the crown, and in a reply to Shapland he used a Shakespear Quote:

“But manproud man, Dress’d in a little brief authority, Most ignorant of what he’s most assur’d— His glassy essence—like an angry ape.

Shapland, who is black, picked up on the ‘ape’ part of the quote and accused Stuart of being racist, and trying to disguise a racial slur within a quote.

Stuart resign from his 40 year career as a news anchor before he was sacked – that tweet above which broke ITV’s guidelines on the use of social media.

NB Shapland has said that he didn’t want him to resigned/ be sacked, and that an apology would have done.

But is this an example of racism?

The first thing suggesting that the tweet had no racist intent is that Stuart has used that quote with other people, which suggests that the intention is to suggest someone’s opinion is invalid because it is not properly informed with all of the facts, rather than it referring to someone’s racial background.

The second thing in Stuart’s defence is his track record: I’ve never come across a sniff of him being Racist before? Obviously all is colleagues and friends say he isn’t, but then they would… but if one was racist, you’d expect something to have ‘come out’ after 40 years in the media spotlight?

Finally, there’s the background of Shapland – some of his previous tweets suggest he’s something of a ‘race warrior’, with some of his tweets calling out white privilege.

I’ve been looking around for an example of something that appears to be racist, but on slightly closer examination . almost certainly isn’t racist, and this seems to be a good example of that!

This feels like ‘trial by social media and political correctness’

As I understand it, in the eyes of the law (certainly where hate crime is concerned) if a victim perceives there to be racial intent, then there is racial intent, so in that sense, ITV had no choice to but to let Stuart go.

However, in this case, the objective truth seems more likely to be that there was any racial intent in that tweet:

It’s probably even the case that even Shapland himself didn’t really think Stuart was being racist: rather it feels like what happened is that Shapland sent off a terse reply ‘playing the race card’ without really thinking about it as part of a social media tiff.

And in the rapid world of social media, you might be able to delete those kind of tweets, but not before someone else has screen shotted and retweeted them!

Final thoughts

To my mind this is a very postmodern event – this kind of thing just couldn’t happen outside of social media.

I don’t think this has turned out too well for Shapland either – he’s getting a lot of actual abuse on twitter now, Stuart has been a popular part of our media landscape for generations!

Also, careful how you use Twitter, it’s not a great case for ‘debates’!

The University of Cambridge appoints first female black head of a college

Jesus College Cambridge recently appointed the first ever black female as its head. This is the first time in British history that either a female or a black person has been the Master of an Oxbridge College.

Sonita Alleyne is 51 years old studied Philosophy at Cambridge 30 years ago and went on to establish a successful career in journalism and has been awarded and OBE. She is a real champion for diversity and inclusion.

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At first sight this seems like a very progressive move to promote equality and diversity, especially when Oxbridge universities have been under so much criticism recently over their disproportionately low numbers of black students and staff.

However, critics might suggest this is an ‘easy trophy appointment’ – what do Heads of Colleges do after all? They’re basically figure heads who liaise with other educational establishments, businesses and the wider communities.

Surely addressing the lack of black female staff (and especially professors) would have more of an impact in promoting equality and diversity?  I mean these are the people who students interact with on a day to day basis, so surely appointments to these positions would have more of a role-model effect, and surely make a difference to the lives of more people (i.e. the people appointed and the students they might inspire.

This appointment is progress, yes, but maybe not the most effective way of promoting equality and diversity

Relevance to A-level sociology 

This is most obviously relevant to the sociology of education. You can use this as contemporary evidence against the view that elite universities are institutionally racist.

Sources/ find out more:

Guardian Article (2018) – Oxbridge faces criticisms over lack of black students.

Article (2017) – List of black female professors in the UK (54 at time of writing, 6 of them in Sociology!)

Vogue Article – we urgently need more black female professors in UK universities (it’s not just Oxford and Cambridge!)

Picture source – BBC – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-48413098

Who are the alt-right?

The Unite the Right Ralley in Charlotsville back in August 2017 was attended by various right wing groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, Skin heads, Neo-Nazis and various Militias, but the most newly formed in attendance, the so-called ‘alt right’, a disparate group of clean cut, smartly dressed, young white men, the latest ‘wave’ of white U.S. white nationalists who are unafraid to express their racist views.

The alt-right is an eclectic, decentralized movement of extreme-conservative, who want a white-only ethno-state: they mainly operate online, via forums such as Reddit and 4chan, sharing memes which support Donald Trump and Hitler, as well as those disparaging Barrack Obama.

But who are these young men, and how do they develop their racist views?

This article in the Washington Post is based on interviews with six young men, tracing their trajectories as members of the alt-right. The following themes stand out:

  1. Many self-radicalised on the internet, finding others with similar views, and they went through stages of meeting others at local and regional meetings and gradually learnt not be ashamed of their racist views.
  2. Thought most members don’t blame impersonal economic factors, many feel that there are no jobs for white people any more – they go to Walmart and McDonalds and see mainly ethnic minorities working in such places.
  3. There are also deeper ‘structural reasons’ – the decline of factor jobs, and the feeling of being left behind, having had the ladder kicked away, and feelings of loneliness and alienation.

NB – these are just the stand-out factors, there are also middle-class people in the movement.

The Charlotsville Rally represented a culmination of a movement that’s been brewing for years online, many drove hundreds, some thousands of miles to get there, possibly emboldened by Donald Trump, they came armed for violence, and of course were met by it.

Whatever you think of the alt-right, the underlying causes which have given rise to it, and the communications networks which maintain it aren’t going anywhere, so I think we can expect this to be a potent force in US politics for years to come.

NB – It reminds me of the kind of white nationalism expressed by the BNP, but just a step-up!

 

 

Will Britain ever have a Black Prime minister?

Will Britain Ever Have a Black Prime Minister? aired on the BBC IN 2017, which looked at the relative average life chances of a Black British child progressing through life… NB Thank you kindly to whoever uploaded this to You Tube (it won’t be there forever, the BBC have unjustly removed this from iPlayer already)

In the summary below I focus on some of the educational disadvantages black children face highlighted by the programme…

Teachers mark black children’s test scores more harshly than other ethnic groups

teacher racism evidence

For in-school test scores, the scores for black British students are consistently lower throughout schooling, until we get to the actual GCSE Results, when the scores of Black British students increase dramatically, with Black African students actually overtaking white British students.

The suggested explanation for this is that in school tests are marked by teachers who know their students and thus know their ethnicity, and that they have an unconscious bias against black students, and thus mark their test scores at a lower level, while GCSEs are marked independently – the markers do not know the students who sat them, and thus do not know their ethnicity: when the tests are marked in a neutral, unbiased way, the scores of black and white pupils are much closer together.

This is backed up by research conducted by Professor Simon Burgess which compared the results of test scores marked by teachers who knew the students sitting the tests (and hence their ethnicity) with the results of tests marked independently, where the markers did not know the ethnicity of the students who sat the tests: the results for some ethnic groups were lower when the teachers knew the ethnicity of the candidates, suggesting that there is an unconscious bias against certain ethnic groups.

A link to Professor Burgess’ (2009) research

This seems to be pretty damning evidence that teachers hold an unconscious bias against black students

Black students are less likely to get three As at A level than white students

Here we are told that….

  • Only 4% of black children get 3 As or more at A level, compared to…
  • 10% of white pupils
  • 28% of independent school pupils, who are disproportionately white.
  • In fact, the programme points out that you are more likely to be excluded from school if you are black than achieve 3 As at A-level

This seems to be less an example of evidence against black students, rather than evidence of the class-bias in A level results.

The Chances of being admitted to Oxford University are lower for black students compared to white students

The programme visits Oxford University, because every single Prime Minister (who has been to university) since 1937 has attended this bastion of privilege.

We are told that black applicants are less likely to be accepted into Oxford University than White students, even when they have the same 3 As as white students.

In an interview with Cameron Alexander, the then president of the African students union, he comes out and says that Oxford University is ‘institutionally racist’ and that structural factors explain the under-representation of black students – he points out the dominant culture of Oxford University is on of elite, white privilege, one in which staff identify more with independently schooled children, who have benefitted from the advantages of huge amounts of material and cultural capital; while they fail to identify with the hardships a black child from an inner city area may have faced – the result is that privileged white student has a higher change of being accepted into Oxford than a black student, even when they have the same grades as a the privileged white student.

As with the example of test scores above, at first glance this evidence seems damning, however, Oxford University has previously explained this by saying that black students have a higher rejection rate because they apply for harder courses on average than white students.

So what are the chances of a black person ever becoming Prime Minister…?

In short, a black person has a 17 million to 1 chance of becoming Prime Minister, compared to a 1 in 1.4 million chance for a white person…

black prime minister chances

Or in short… a black person is 12 times less likely to become Prime Minister in the U.K. compared to a white person…

life chances ethnicity

 

Postscript…

Unfortunately this programme has already disappeared from iPlayer, despite the fact that anyone in Britain with a T.V. has already paid for it, which is just bang out of order.

Sociology in the News

This seems to be a clear-cut (and very unfortunate) example of overt discrimination on the basis of religion:

juhel-miah-discrimination
Juel Miah – A victim of U.S. discrimination

On 16th February, Juhel Miah, a respected British Muslim schoolteacher travelling as part of a school trip to New York was denied entry to the United States.

He was travelling from Wales with a group of children and other teachers and was removed from the plane while on a stop-over in Reykjavik, Iceland, despite having all the necessary documentation including a valid Visa for entry into the U.S.

The articles don’t state as much, but I’m assuming that all other non-Muslim adults on the plane weren’t escorted off.

Juhel has asked the American Embassy for an explanation of why he was refused entry to the U.S, but one week on and they haven’t responded.

This seems to be an unambiguous (but bleak), real-life example to illustrate what discrimination is – in this case differential treatment on the basis of someone’s religion. It could also be used to illustrate the extent to which Islamophobia is driving U.S. immigration policy.

Source – The Guardian, Monday 20th February.

You might also like The Independent’s version

 

Racism in the British Criminal Justice System – Selected Evidence

Unfortunately, there is a considerable amount of evidence suggesting a long history of institutional racism within the Criminal Justice System. Below we are going to look at the short version, starting with the case study of Stephen Lawrence…  

 The list of evidence is long, but there are limitations with this evidence, and alternative ways in which it might be interpreted; you should also be able to draw on other pieces of evidence which we’ve looked at in other parts of the course which point to a broader range of factors besides police racism which explain the disproportionately high numbers of Black and Asian people being processed through the criminal justice system.

 

1993: The Stephen Lawrence Case and the Macpherson Enquiry (1993/1999)
In this case a gang of white youths stabbed African Caribbean teenager Stephen Lawrence to death after shouting racist abuse at him. Despite substantial evidence against the youths, the police failed to mount a successful prosecution and no one was convicted of the murder. Following sustained pressure by Lawrence’s mother, the

The Macpherson enquiry was established to look into why and six years after Lawrence’s murder in 1999 it found that the Metropolitan police were institutionally racist.

The report defined institutional racism as ‘the collective failure of an organisation to provide and appropriate and professional service to people because of their colour, culture, or ethnic origin. It can been seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour that amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping and which disadvantage minority ethnic peoples’.

Note the following quote by John Mewing, chief constable for Derbyshire who admitted during this enquiry: “In the police service there is a distinct tendency for officers to stereotype people. Discrimination and unfairness are a result. I know because as a young police officer, I was guilty of such behaviour”

 

Disproportionate and Discriminatory: Reviewing the Evidence on Police Stop and Sear

Bowling and Phillips (2007) (link)

Although ten years old, this is one of the major pieces of research to have reviewed police prejudice since Stephen Lawrence – Phillips and Bowling are two names you should know in relation to this topic. Below is an extract to give you an idea of how strongly they talk about the existence of police racism…This is a piece of secondary research, and is a review of all available work done into Police Racism in the UK up until 2007.

Research evidence over the past three decades has found that specific stereotypes are commonly used by police officers to classify people on the basis of their ethnic origin. Studies found that black people were believed to be prone to violent crime and drug abuse, incomprehensible, suspicious, hard to handle, naturally excitable, aggressive, lacking brainpower, troublesome and ‘tooled up’.

These findings on racial prejudice and stereotyping have not been restricted to constables, but have been found throughout the ranks. Robert Reiner’s study of Chief Constables found that race was spontaneously mentioned more often than any other social division and was frequently brought up in other contexts.

Although some chiefs discussed ethnicity without invoking negative stereotypes, most spoke prejudicially. The predominant view was to regard the presence of black people as problematic for the police.

They tended to be seen as crime-prone, disorderly, argumentative, irrational, ‘likely to be carrying drugs or dangerous implements, noisy, and responsible for the antipathy held towards them’

Research in the 1990s suggested that overt targeting was ongoing; though police officers were more reluctant to admit it.

A Home Office funded study conducted by Janet Foster and colleagues found that explicit racist language was no longer tolerated and reached the view that it is gradually disappearing. Feeling under greater scrutiny after the Lawrence Inquiry, the authors argued that, in general, officers felt less able to carry out unjustified stop and search or ‘fishing trips’ without proper grounds for searching. However, the authors point to the possibility that racist attitudes and behaviour may simply have gone ‘underground’.

Although the links are complex, racially prejudiced attitudes do affect the way in which people behave. Hall et al argue that while there is no automatic or straightforward link between racially prejudiced attitudes and language and discriminatory or differential behaviour . . . there is a consistency in the pervasive nature and expression of racial stereotypes and their influence on police expectations and behaviours.

There is clear evidence that police officers routinely use skin colour as a criterion for ‘stop and search’ based on stereotyping and over-generalisations about the involvement of black people in crime. Evidence of this was apparent even when being observed by Home Office researchers. Furthermore, the use of colour as a criterion is particularly marked in relation to ‘stop and search’ for drug offences.

 

2011 –  Court room observations of sentencing following the London Riots
Lee Jasper argues that in this instance, there was clear evidence of racial bias in sentencing. A summary of his blog post

The London riots have attracted exceptional media and political coverage, but as the rebuilding work gets underway and the media coverage dies down… the rancid stench of judicial racism begins to fill the air.

I have witnessed this first hand having spent three days at inner London Crown Court observing case after case being tried in the immediate aftermath of the riots. What I saw shocked me to the core: it reminded me of the chaotic ad hoc justice of the Wild West. Black offenders rights were dismissed, bail applications routinely refused for first time offenders and disproportionate sentences handed out down by an almost all white judiciary. It was carnage.

The Guardian reports that “the difference in racial sentencing between courts was considerable. Haringey magistrates court, which dealt with many of the Tottenham riot cases, sentenced – before the summer disturbances – 11 of the 54 black defendants it dealt with for public disorder or weapons offences to prison, as compared to 5 of 73 white defendants. While West London magistrates court sentenced 17 of 107 black defendants to jail, versus 21 of 237 who were white – meaning at that court black defendants were 79% more likely to be jailed.”

(http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2011/nov/25/ethnic-variations-jail-sentences-study)

 

2013 – A review of Stop and Search stats by The Equality and Human Rights Commission has argued that the Police use their powers disproportionately…
According to this BBC summary (2013) The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said in some areas black people were 29 times more likely to be stopped and searched. The commission said the disproportion between different ethnic groups remained “stubbornly high”.

The highest “disproportionality” ratios were found in the following places:

·         In Dorset black people were 11.7 times more likely than white people to be stopped

·         In West Mercia, Asian people were 3.4 times more likely than white people to be stopped

·         In Warwickshire, people of mixed race were 4.4 times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched.

The report also looked at the use of Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act under which police can stop and search someone for weapons, without suspicion that the individual is involved in wrongdoing, providing that a senior officer has a reasonable belief that violence had or is about to occur.

Under section 60, In the West Midlands, black people were 29 times more likely than white people to be targeted and Asian people were six times more likely than white people to be targeted

EHRC chief executive Mark Hammond said “the overall disproportionality in the use of the powers against black, Asian and mixed race people remains stubbornly high.”

Ethnicity and Crime: Paul Gilroy’s ‘Anti-Racist Theory’

Below I summarise pp52-3 of Collins’ Sociology AQA A-Level Year 2 Student Book (Chapman, Holborn, Moore and Aiken.) This is their take on what they call ‘Paul Gilroy’s Anti Racist Theory of Crime’ – Interestingly Prof. Gilroy commented on the post saying this is a shallow, oversimplified travesty of what he wrote.

Gilroy’s Anti-Racist Theory of Crime 

Gilroy describes a ‘myth of black criminality’ and attributed statistical differences in recorded criminality between ethnic groups as being due to police stereotyping and racist labelling .

Gilroy also argued that crime amongst Black British ethnic groups was a legacy of the struggle against White dominance in former colonies such as Jamaica. When early migrants came to Britain they faced discrimination and hostility, and drew upon the tradition of anticolonial struggle to develop cultures of resistance against White-dominated authorities and police forces.

While Left Realists such as Lea and Young argued that ome criminal acts such as rioting could involve protest against marginalisation, but Paul Gilroy goes much further, seeing most crime by Black ethnic groups as essentially political and as part of the general resistance to White Rule.

Evaluations of Gilroy’s Anti-Racism Theory

This theory is criticised by Lea and Young (1984) on several grounds:

– First generation immigrants were actually very law-abiding citizens and as such did not resist against the colony of Britain and were less likely to pass this anti-colonial stance to their kids.
– Most crime is against other people of the same ethnic group and so cannot be seen as resistance to racism.
– Like critical criminologists, Lea and Young criticise Gilroy for romanticising the criminals as somehow revolutionary.
– Asian crimes rates are similar or lower than whites, which would mean the police were only racist towards blacks, which is unlikely.
– Most crime is reported to police not uncovered by them so it is difficult to suggest racism within the police itself.

Related Posts 

Gilroy draws on the labelling theory crime, among others.