This obsession with imaginary racism is utter lunacy

Diverse mix of people
Our universities are not hotbeds of institutional racism, argues Alex Claridge.

“Hey, you! Yeah, you! The academic with the rusty CND badge and the remnants of a vegan sandwich in your patchy facial hair – you’re a racist!”

“Me? But I haven’t got a racist bone in body!”

“Oh yes you have. You’re white. Your whole existence is dripping with racism.”

At the weekend it emerged that lecturers from universities across the United Kingdom are being dragged from their lecture theatres and into race awareness classes and workshops.

While Canterbury Christ Church University has confirmed it has no plans to send staff on these courses, the University of Kent has not said either way what its plans are. Mind you, it’s got the issue of striking lecturers to deal with.

University of Kent campus shop
The University of Kent campus

Elsewhere, Anglia Ruskin University told academics to “start by facing our privilege in an honest manner and understanding exactly how we benefit from a racist system” in order “to expose the truth about the privileges we unknowingly carry with us in everyday life”.

At Bristol University the message is “whiteness as a discriminatory force is as prevalent today as it was 400 years ago”.

Do you think the people who write this drivel have any idea what they sound like?

More to the point, why are we letting it fester and poison the national consciousness?

And what on earth are universities doing allowing themselves to be exploited by a tiny activist sect that wants to perpetuate ideas on race and society which are quite frankly insane – and abhorrent?

Dealing first with the obvious issue, the colour of one’s skin doesn’t make one racist. Thoughts and actions do.

What’s more, British academics are perhaps the gentlest, most liberal and tolerant folk going. So how is it they find themselves being subjected to such an assault?

One answer is that the racism workshops come against a backdrop of high drop-out rates among students from ethnic minority backgrounds.

This, then, is held up to be the result of discrimination within universities. If academics protest that there is no way they would discriminate against any minority background, it is explained to them that they “unknowingly” carry privilege and racism through the colour of their skin.

But the equalities commissariat does not want to countenance the idea that all sorts of factors may explain why drop-out rates are higher among certain ethnic groups than others.

Prof Thomas Sowell on television in 1980

The American political thinker Thomas Sowell has been making this point for more than four decades. Alas, few people appear to have been listening.

Speaking as long ago as 1980, Prof Sowell said: “As I look at numbers from various places world I don’t find anything faintly resembling an even representation of people in any institution anywhere in the world.

“There are all kinds of factors involved, but what’s amazing to me is this notion that people would be evenly represented except for these institutional policies. This notion has such momentum behind it without a speck of evidence being provided or even asked for.”

Equally, if we look at a Premier League football team which consists of nine players of Afro-Caribbean descent or 10 born outside the UK, we don’t automatically conclude that this is a product of racial discrimination against the native population.

Canterbury Christ Church University is not sending staff on race awareness courses

On the contrary, we accept that for reasons of economy, availability, talent and the vagaries of the international transfer system, the teams running out on the pitch are the product of choices the club or its manager makes.

And yet when it comes to British universities a totally different set of criteria are used to explain their ethnic composition.

Our universities have got their problems, but hotbeds of racism – knowing or unknowing – they are not.

All sorts of factors are at play to explain why certain groups of students may drop out – that is, realise university is not for them – but active racial discrimination is unlikely to be one of them.

The universities need to overcome their zeal for social engineering and reaffirm their true purpose: the pursuit of excellence in academic endeavour.


  1. Checking one’s privilege on an individual basis is fine – it used to be known as counting ones blessings. But to be told to do so based on a forced category like ethnicity or class rubs out every individual’s own personal struggles and circumstances.

    Identity politics is an off-shoot of Post-Modernism and posits imaginary oppressed and oppressor groups (even historical ones) which, among other things, allows group failure to be attributed to the maliciousness of the oppressor. That British institutions have changed radically over the decades to accommodate diversity in the population and yet get little credit or accolade for this shows its purpose: the end game of identity politics is for the oppressed to become the oppressors, since it’s all about ‘power’, man, and who doesn’t want a piece of that? And the “gentlest, most liberal and tolerant folk” in universities will be cast as racists or sexists until this inversion has been achieved. If you have been unfortunate enough to be ‘identified’ as an oppressor, no amount of virtue signaling will save you.

    Identity politics is the stuff of both the far-left and the far-right: they just slice the population cake differently. It is an illiberal and authoritarian philosophy and it will end badly if this is unchallenged and I commend the author for writing this piece. To see how identity politics plays out, look up the horror show that is Evergreen State College.

  2. There’s nothing imaginary about the very real racism that pervades British society today, and yes, Alex, that includes universities too.

    The fact that you cite Thomas Sowell, a FOX News favourite and a man who has openly stated that he sees no evidence that Donald Trump is a racist, tells us that you are either:

    (a) A racist yourself always looking to downplay the very real racism carried out on a regular basis by white British people today.

    (b) Ignorant.

    (c) Both.

    Judging by what I’ve read from you, I’m definitely going with (c)….


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