Socialist Worker

Racism, not lack of role models, is the problem for black boys

Issue No. 2064

This week saw the release of the Reach report into “raising the aspirations and attainment of black boys and young black men”.

African Caribbean young people – and boys in particular – face a rough time in Britain today. They live in poorer housing, have less chance of getting a job, and are more likely to be the victims of crime.

Black people are also the targets of explicit racism by state institutions. African Caribbeans are six times more likely to be stopped and searched by police than whites, and three times more likely to be excluded from school.

It’s a pity, then, that the Reach report almost entirely ignores the social and political factors behind the marginalisation of young black people – the word “racism” is mentioned a mere five times in the entire 85 page report.

Instead it focuses on altering the individual psychology of young black men through the promotion of suitable “role models”. Black boys should be encouraged to look up to professionals and businessmen rather than celebrities and pop stars, it suggests.

The idea of “positive role models” might seem like common sense. But ultimately it is a distraction that fails black children by dampening down the struggle to tackle racism, poverty and exclusion.

We should be challenging and transforming the racist society we live in, rather than trying to cajole young black people into fitting into a system designed to shut them out.


Lebanon

The final judgement

A parliament committee has issued a damming indictment of Tony Blair over his refusal to call for a ceasefire during Israel’s murderous bombardment of Lebanon last summer.

Blair hoped that the Israelis would crush Lebanon and the Hizbollah resistance movement. They failed, and Blair failed with them. His support for Israel, and George Bush in his wars, hastened Blair’s departure from office.

This is not a point of diplomatic niceties, but of life and death. In the last 72 hours of the war the Israelis showered south Lebanon with four million cluster bomblets.

Since August 14 last year, 219 civilians have been killed by these bombs – 76 of them children. A further 32 bomb disposal experts have been killed or badly wounded in the clean-up operation.


Public schools

Subsidising the rich

Glenalmond College aims to instil in its pupils’ “timeless qualities of courtesy, honesty, integrity, modesty and a respect for others”.

The pupils’ contribution is a video called “Class Wars”, where they hunt and “shoot” “chavs”.

The spoilt parasites who attend the £22,500 a year college will go on to run our society.

Working class people subsidise their education with tax breaks of £100 million a year for private schools.

The Warwick agreement between Labour and the trade unions promised to make private schools justify their charitable status to the Charity Commission. Labour’s policy is to abolish the charitable status.

But, like the qualities Glenalmond boasts of, the wait for Labour to do anything that would upset the rich will be “timeless”.


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Article information

What We Think
Tue 14 Aug 2007, 18:05 BST
Issue No. 2064
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