Gulzaar Barn, Academic Racism, and the Problems with ‘Race’ as a Scientific Category

It was recently brought to public attention that of the UK’s 18,510 university professors, only eight-five are of black origin (Black African/Black Caribbean/Black ‘other’).[1] Some people may want to explain this sobering figure by saying that it is proportionate, or makes sense, when you consider the number of black people entering and remaining within higher education. However, rather than this explaining the situation, it leaves us with the question as to why this is the case. If there are a disproportionately low number of black students entering (and remaining in) higher education then this itself needs to be questioned and discussions had on the social and economic barriers that may be affecting certain sectors of the population. In this article I explore some of these factors, as well as suggesting that the recent resurgence of discussion on ‘intelligence’ and genes within science and bioethics may serve to perpetuate a hostile and exclusionary environment. Such research into intelligence, genes, and race, is falsely premised on notions of ‘race’ and ‘intelligence’ as scientific categories. In so far as there is disagreement over the scientific validity of these concepts, it may be problematic to invoke them in such charged discussions, which could also have socially damaging effects.

via Gulzaar Barn, Academic Racism, and the Problems with ‘Race’ as a Scientific Category | The Oxford Left Review.


Disbanded LSE men’s rugby club had history of racism and misogyny

The men’s rugby club at the London School of Economics, disbanded this week over a homophobic and misogynistic leaflet distributed to prospective members, had previously been involved in actions including “blacking up” and playing Nazi-themed drinking games, according to the university’s students’ union.

The revelations came as it emerged that another university rugby club, at London Business School (LBS), was dissolved for 12 months last year following complaints about racism and lewd sexism in a leaflet produced to mark a tour of France.

Separately, the Rugby Football Union, the governing body of the sport in England, said it would be reinforcing its commitment to inclusion and diversity with its university rugby clubs.

In an email to members to further explain Tuesday’s decision to disband the men’s club for an academic year, the LSE students’ union president, Nona Buckley-Irvine, said an investigation had uncovered “a negative culture within the club that has existed for years”.

via Disbanded LSE men’s rugby club had history of racism and misogyny | Education | The Guardian.

York University Hockey Team Investigated Over Vile Tweets On Rape, Racism And Sexism

A university’s hockey team is under investigation after tweets on a private account were exposed revealing racist, sexist and xenophobic messages – including one which expressed the love of stabbing black people.

York University is working with the student union to punish the individuals responsible, who were the hockey club’s social secretaries.

Messages posted on the @UyhcSocSecs account, which at the time of closure had 64 followers, included: “You think your initiation is over! I may just rape her”; “I love stabbing black people”; and “oi lower race, down it”.

Another tweet described a student as “chinkeye”, with one follower of the account responding: “He isn’t allowed to join the club.”

The Twitter account was exposed by student paper York Vision, who report that the official university hockey club Twitter account was following the handle.

According to the paper, most of the 500-odd tweets issued had initials next to the quotes to determine who said the statement.

The hockey club’s presidents released a statement confirming the account was run by four of its members.

“The University of York Hockey Club would like to sincerely apologise for the twitter account set up by our Social Secretaries. In no way was the hockey club affiliated with or in any way endorsed the account. The tweets are wholly unacceptable and do not reflect or represent the opinions or views held by the Hockey Club.

via York University Hockey Team Investigated Over Vile Tweets On Rape, Racism And Sexism.

Implicit racism in academia

Subtle racism is prevalent in US and UK universities, according to a new paper commissioned by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education and released last week, reports The Times Higher Education.

Black professors surveyed for the paper said they were treated differently than white colleagues in the form of receiving less eye contact or requests for their opinion, that they felt excluded in meetings and experienced undermining of their work. “I have to downplay my achievements sometimes to be accepted” said one academic, explaining that colleagues that didn’t expect a black woman to be clever and articulate. Senior managers often dismiss racist incidents as conflicts of personalities or believe them to be exaggerated, found the paper.

And all this in institutions where almost all staff would say they are not just “not racist” but where many would say they were actively committed to fighting prejudice.

This seems like a clear case of the operation of implicit biases – where there is a contradiction between people’s egalitarian beliefs and their racist actions. Implicit biases are an industry in psychology, where tools such as the implicit association test (IAT) are used to measure them. The IAT is a fairly typical cognitive psychology-type study: individuals sit in front of a computer and the speed of their reactions to stimuli are measured (the stimuli are things like faces of people with different ethnicities, which is how we get out a measure of implicit prejudice).

via Implicit racism in academia « Mind Hacks.

Racism seen but not heard at UK and US institutions

Subtle or covert racism remains prevalent in UK and US universities and is going unnoticed or ignored by senior managers, a report claims.

According to “The experience of BME academics in higher education: aspirations in the face of inequality”, a paper commissioned by the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, senior managers often dismiss racist incidents as a “conflict of personalities” or believe them to be exaggerated.

Based on interviews with 12 black and minority ethnic academics in the UK and 10 in the US, the report found that although public displays of overt racism were considered rare, a pernicious set of behaviours has emerged to mask racist positions.

Respondents felt excluded in meetings, reported a lack of eye contact or being asked their opinion and experienced “constant undermining and criticism of their work”.

“Almost instinctively we regard our ‘seats of learning’ as institutions that rise above the inequalities and injustices of society at large,” the report says. “However, this is clearly too rosy a picture. Within many higher education institutions, embedded sets of beliefs and internalised codes of collegiality seem to work to reinforce and promote the interests of small elites. This needs to be challenged.”

via Racism seen but not heard at UK and US institutions | News | Times Higher Education.