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Is racism now acceptable?

DISCRIMINATION: Chikayzea Flanders, right, pictured with his
mother, Tuesday, was banned from school for having dreadlocks.

LAST year we saw a never-ending stream of sex scandals in the media that quite rightly put sexual harassment firmly on the agenda. But will there ever be an extended period of reflection on the sorry state of race relations?

I think that 2017 was an absolute shocker on this issue. One of the key highlights for me was the decision in September by Fulham Boys School to ban a newly enrolled black student for wearing his hair in dreadlocks, because his family are Rastafarians.

The school placed the boy, Chikayzea Flanders, 12, in isolation and told him to either cut his locks or find another school. He soon left. With a seemingly intolerant and unwilling-to-communite headteacher at the helm, I contacted the press office of Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury for a statement. No reply. Nothing.

Bishop Welby recently came out supporting a young boy’s right to wear a dress to a Church of England school, but was silent on the right of Chikayzea Flanders, the young boy in question, to wear his Rastafarian dreads. Even John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, who always has two pence worth for media, was tongue-tied!

Is this case of religious and/ or racial discrimination being tacitly condoned by Church leadership in one of its own schools? It is heading to court, so let the judge decide. September also saw the publishing of David Lammy’s excellent review into the overrepresentation of black and minority ethnic (BAME) people in the criminal justice system.

There is a crisis when young black men are 10 times more likely to be in youth custody than their white peers, and it points to a huge racial issues. However, Mr Lammy, for fear of playing identity politics, spoke of a ‘racial bias’ in the criminal justice system and stepped back from calling it what it is – racism.

Often, in a racist society, being black means you are never good enough, no matter how good you are. However, the irony is that my degree is actually from LSBU, the same university I was interviewed by. They gave me a student debt and a degree that can’t get me a job – not even in the place I got it from!

Black History Month for me closed with a Hip Hop History and networking evening at he Black Cultural Archives in Brixton, south London. As a preamble to the lecture, I displayed a copy of an Adidas advert showing a sinister black and white head shot of a black man with the word ‘Predator’ underneath him.

It was outrageously offensive, especially when viewed in the context of how black men are policed. So I had the audience do a quick semiotic analysis of it.

“But what do we do now?” someone asked. “Challenge it,” I replied. Call it out for what it is, blatant racism. The Advertising Standards Authority exists fora purpose – use it. Our individual powerlessness lies with an unwillingness to take meaningful action. Racism persists because we allow it to. Take action.

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