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Kemi Badenoch on critical race theory

Link: https://youtu.be/3vf7yX9ESRc
Excerpt: “Lesson No. 2: black history is not the history of institutional racism.

Listening to some Members across the House, it is quite clear that they do not know the difference. It is not true, as the hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Kim Johnson) said, that African history was interrupted by slavery. It also shows an ignorance of geography, because west African history is different from African history. As probably the only Member of this House who actually grew up and went to school in Africa, I can tell the House that that is not what we are taught. Much more is taught about the history of black slave traders who existed before and after the transatlantic slave trade.

In fact, the most notable statue in the city of Lagos, where I grew up, is that of Madam Tinubu. It is the biggest one in the equivalent of Trafalgar Square. She was a slave trader, but she was also a freedom fighter and a much loved icon.

Her slave trading is not celebrated, but her fight against colonisers is. In Nigeria, she is recognised as a complex character, as all historical figures are—and heaven help anyone who would try to pull her statue down. There is much that we can learn from Nigeria about how to handle the issue of statues”. (Kemi Badenoch, MP, 20 October 2020)

The British outlawed the slave trade in 1807 and abolished slavery in 1833. Even the US banned the import of new slaves in 1807 in the “Act Prohibiting Importation of Slaves of 1807” However, Madam Tinubu continued to trade in slaves: “Efunroye Tinubu (c. 1810 – 1887), born Efunporoye Osuntinubu, was a powerful Yoruba female aristocrat and slave trader in pre-colonial and colonial Nigeria… In December 1851 and under the pretext of abolishing slavery, the British bombarded Lagos, dislodged Kosoko from the throne, and installed a more amenable Akitoye as Oba of Lagos. Though Akitoye signed a treaty with Britain outlawing the slave trade, Tinubu subverted the 1852 treaty and secretly traded slaves for guns with Brazilians and Portuguese tradershttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Efunroye_Tinubu

Kemi Badenoch states that “On the history of black people in Britain, again, our history of race is not America’s. Most black British people who came to our shores were not brought here in chains, but came voluntarily because of their connections to the UK and in search of a better life.” Nonetheless, the United States has had black economic migrants from the Caribbean and Africa for a very long time. Increasing numbers have come since the US Civil Rights acts, and have taken advantage of affirmative action-diversity-minority contract set asides ostensibly intended for those whose ancestors were enslaved within the United States. Do the African academics, who have increasingly replaced African Americans, descend from slave traders? Did wealth from the slave trade pay for their educations?

Where is America’s Kemi Badenoch? In the United States, at the forefront of complaining, we find new economic immigrants like Joy Reid, and Ilhan Omar, who are working hard to create the dysfunctions of their homelands in the United States, and, of course, Kamala Harris. Reid’s mother is from British Guyana and father from DRC and Omar from Somalia. They are all occupying jobs that could be easily and better done by African Americans whose ancestors were enslaved within the United States. In particular, America has treated Joy Reid very well. And, we know that Kamala Harris descends from Hindu Brahmins and a major British Jamaican slave trader. The marriage-relationship with the British slave trader, Hamilton Brown, was after slavery ended in Jamaica. https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2020/11/01/kamala-harris-jamaican-ancestress-was-born-to-major-slave-owner-free-woman-who-may-have-been-irish-or-scots/

UK Parliament (Hansard):
Black History Month
Volume 682: debated on Tuesday 20 October 2020
6.48pm
The Minister for Equalities
(Kemi Badenoch)
I am pleased to be standing at the Dispatch Box to close this much needed debate on Black History Month. I congratulate the hon. Member for Erith and Thamesmead (Abena Oppong-Asare), who has managed to be both a Front Bencher and a Back Bencher today; that is quite a feat. I thank the Backbench Business Committee for granting this debate and giving me an opportunity to speak on an issue that is very close to my heart, and I thank all the hon. and right hon. Members who have made thoughtful contributions. I will speak as quickly as I can, and I am afraid I will not be able to reference every speech, but I think that this has been a fantastic debate.

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This year, more so than for decades, race has been at the heart of our national conversation. Black History Month remains an opportunity to shine a light on those whose contributions to our national history deserve to be better known.

This month, the Government have taken the opportunity to celebrate the contribution of black Britons who enrich our collective national life and form an inseparable part of our national history—women such as Yvonne Conolly, who in 1969 became the UK’s first black female headteacher. Throughout her 40-year career, she has inspired and mentored generations of educators. The work of Ms Conolly and her fellow heads is key to the topic that we are debating. Education is key to our mission as a Government to level up and spread opportunity to everyone, whatever their background.

Many hon. Members have said that they want more black history to be taught, but they do not seem to be aware of what is actually on the curriculum. Our curriculum is not that of 50, 40 or even 20 years ago. Children today can learn about the British empire and colonialism, the transatlantic slave trade and its abolition, and how our history has been shaped by people of all ethnicities. They also have the opportunity to study non-European cultures such as Mughal India and the Benin empire, which is where my ancestors decided to take over the world in their own way. Pupils can currently study migration, empires and the people in the AQA history GCSE, but the hon. Member for Ilford North (Wes Streeting) is quite wrong to say that that is the only place that it can be learned, as many other exam bodies offer that.

Our curriculum does not need to be decolonised, for the simple reason that it is not colonised. We should not apologise for the fact that British children primarily study the history of these islands. It goes without saying that the recent fad to decolonise maths, decolonise engineering and decolonise the sciences that we have seen across our universities—to make race the defining principle of what is studied—is not just misguided but actively opposed to the fundamental purpose of education. The curriculum, by its very nature, is limited; there are a finite number of hours to teach any subject. What we have not heard in this debate, from hon. Members on both sides of the House who want more added to it, is what must necessarily be taken out. Perhaps we will get to that another day.

The right hon. Member for Islington North (Jeremy Corbyn) and many others have raised the Black Lives Matter movement. The hon. Member for Streatham (Bell Ribeiro-Addy) raised the education guidance and believes that we are trying to stop children becoming activists. Another hon. Member—apologies; I have forgotten who it was—also mentioned that. What we are against is the teaching of contested political ideas as if they are accepted facts. We do not do that with communism, socialism or capitalism.

I want to speak about a dangerous trend in race relations that has come far too close to home in my life, which is the promotion of critical race theory, an ideology that sees my blackness as victimhood and their whiteness as oppression. I want to be absolutely clear that the Government stand unequivocally against critical race theory. Some schools have decided to openly support the anti-capitalist Black Lives Matter group, often fully aware that they have a statutory duty to be politically impartial.

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Of course black lives matter, but we know that the Black Lives Matter movement is political. I know that because, at the height of the protests, I have been told of white Black Lives Matter protesters calling a black armed police officer guarding Downing Street—I apologise for saying this word—“a pet nigger”. That is why we do not endorse that movement on this side of the House. It is a political movement. It would be nice if Opposition Members condemned many of the actions of that political movement, instead of pretending that it is a completely wholesome anti-racist organisation.

Lots of pernicious stuff is being pushed, and we stand against that. We do not want teachers to teach their white pupils about white privilege and inherited racial guilt. Let me be clear that any school that teaches those elements of critical race theory as fact, or that promotes partisan political views such as defunding the police without offering a balanced treatment of opposing views, is breaking the law.

Hon. Members have mentioned the police. Our history is our own; it is not America’s. Too often, those who campaign against racial inequality import wholesale a narrative and assumptions that have nothing to do with this country’s history and have no place on these islands. Our police force is not their police force.

Since its establishment by Robert Peel, our police force has operated on the principle of policing by consent. It gives me tremendous pride to live, in 2020, in a nation where the vast majority of our police officers are still unarmed.

On the history of black people in Britain, again, our history of race is not America’s. Most black British people who came to our shores were not brought here in chains, but came voluntarily because of their connections to the UK and in search of a better life. I should know: I am one of them. We have our own joys and sorrows to tell. From the Windrush generation to the Somali diaspora, it is a story that is uniquely ours. If we forget that story and replace it with an imported Americanised narrative of slavery, segregation and Jim Crow, we erase the history of not only black Britain, but of every other community that has contributed to society and that has also been a victim of racism or discrimination, from the Pakistani community to the Jewish community.

I have listened to Opposition Members talk about a race equality strategy. They know that the Government have set up a Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, but they have not engaged with it. They do not want a race equality strategy; they want the Government to adopt their race equality strategy, and that is not what we are doing.

We won an election a year ago. If Opposition Members want to implement their race equality strategy, they should go ahead and win an election. If they win the support of the British people, they can have their way, but at the moment this is a Conservative Government and we are going to do this in the way in which we believe the people of this country want.

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is located here
Kemi Badenoch

The hon. Member for Brent Central (Dawn Butler) said that she hoped I would learn something from her. Now it is time for me to give her a couple of lessons too, although I do not believe that she is in her place. She said that we need to look at history and improve it.

Lesson No. 1: we cannot improve history; we can only learn from it. What we can improve is the future, and that is what this Government have been doing over the past 10 years. I am not going to reel off statistics, in the interests of time, because other Government Members have already done so.

Lesson No. 2: black history is not the history of institutional racism. Listening to some Members across the House, it is quite clear that they do not know the difference. It is not true, as the hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside (Kim Johnson) said, that African history was interrupted by slavery. It also shows an ignorance of geography, because west African history is different from African history. As probably the only Member of this House who actually grew up and went to school in Africa, I can tell the House that that is not what we are taught. Much more is taught about the history of black slave traders who existed before and after the transatlantic slave trade.

In fact, the most notable statue in the city of Lagos, where I grew up, is that of Madam Tinubu. It is the biggest one in the equivalent of Trafalgar Square. She was a slave trader, but she was also a freedom fighter and a much loved icon. Her slave trading is not celebrated, but her fight against colonisers is. In Nigeria, she is recognised as a complex character, as all historical figures are—and heaven help anyone who would try to pull her statue down. There is much that we can learn from Nigeria about how to handle the issue of statues.

Why does this issue mean so much to me? It is not just because I am a first-generation immigrant. It is because my daughter came home from school this month and said to me, “We’re learning Black History Month because every other month is about white history.” That is wrong and it is not what our children should be picking up. Those are not the values that I have taught her. They are yet another sign of the pernicious identity politics that look at individuals primarily as groups of biological characteristics. People often do not realise when that has taken hold, and I know that many of them are well meaning.

I wanted to finish with the story of Tom Molineaux, a black boxer who freed himself from slavery in the US and moved to England in 1809. I would have said so much more about him, but I am almost out of time.

History tells us that this is a country that welcomes people, and that black people from all over the world have found this to be a great and welcoming country.

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As a black woman, these are the values that I am teaching my black daughter. We must never take that for granted. In this Black History Month, let us celebrate the black talent that we are blessed with, the progress we have made in accepting one another and the contribution that black people have made in making us who we are as a nation.
“ © UK Parliament 2021, OPL: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2020-10-20/debates/5B0E393E-8778-4973-B318-C17797DFBB22/BlackHistoryMonth

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kingdom_of_Benin
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edo_people