“What have you learnt about critical race theory?” I asked my 15-year-old son yesterday.
“Critical what?” he huffed rolling his eyes.
“Critical race theory. The apparent ideology that black people are made out to be victims and white people are oppressors.
“What have they taught you about that in school?”
Kemi Badenoch, the Government’s equalities minister, this week said any school teaching this stuff, or teachers who tell pupils that white privilege is fact, is breaking the law. So I was keen to know what my teen knew about it.
“Oh my gosh, Mum”, he grumbled. “They would NEVER teach that at my school or any other school. Maybe at college or uni but not at school!”
So the Government can relax. Schools aren’t pumping our kids full of information about structural and systematic racism or white privilege – where do they get their information from? But that obviously doesn’t mean racial inequality doesn’t exist.
The term white privilege has gone the way of the term “woke” – it was a well-intentioned way of pointing out inequality and the fact that certain people in society have an inherent advantage based on race, gender and class.
When I was growing up this would have been called, being born with a silver spoon in your mouth or being part of the old boys’ network.
It should make people stop and think and provoke debate. Instead it has been weaponised to stifle debate – weaponised by some who, when you talk about issues with black children in education, will quickly point out how white working-class boys perform.
Funny how they only seem to care when race is involved and there are points to score.
I understand some people can be baffled by the use of the word. Many would look at their circumstances and think they are far from privileged.
It doesn’t help that the conversation soon gets tangled up with Britain’s history, its colonial legacy and some of the unsavoury bits we’d rather forget. I get that it can be tiring hearing about the past.
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about it and try to do better. Instead of pitting under-represented groups against each other we should recognise all the barriers that people in Britain face and work towards greater equal opportunities.
If we want change and want a more equal society, we need to start with honest and frank conversations. And why not start with young people. After all, they are the future.