Using Race To Smear Education Events

February 10, 2018

There was an education event in June last year in Berkshire. About 7% of people in Berkshire are Asian, and about 2% are black.

This was posted on Twitter about one of the panels.

Here are some of the comments made about this panel on Twitter.

I can’t help but notice the lack of racial diversity. Is it fair to say many voices will be present, or just the majority group’s?

[when asked about the numbers] I think when we play numbers games it only serves to further marginalized non-majority groups.

[in response to an Asian woman saying she was happy with the panel] this is an anecdotal argument that ignores the larger issue of non-majority populations being consistently underrepresented.

If the panel has no minority representation, it does concern me (despite the rest of the program)

Also worth considering the considerable evidence that diverse constituency of a group produces more effective outcomes (any location)

A risk of tokenism if organisers introduce diversity ‘for show’, sure. That’s why organisations do well to self review at all levels  a telling argument is tendency to perform better without echo chamber repetition typical of dominant monoculture group interactions

Not about representation it’s about power. We should all be willing to consider our work & how power distributed.

There was an education event in Warwickshire in July last year. Less than 5% of people in Warwickshire are Asian. Less than 1% are black. A flyer showing some of the speakers was posted to Twitter.

Here are some of the comments made about the event on Twitter (either responding to that list or to a panel at the event):

Diversity klaxon going wild there. Need some help? #BAMEed

Where you at @BAMEedNetwork ? Represent !!!

and an all-white panel at that…#BAMEed can help next time

How about more diversity in your speaker list?

Visible diversity and diversity are both items which need consideration. The locality of an event is irrelevant.

Isn’t the baseline [for] diversity in the profession? So 1 in 18 speakers wouldn’t be visible/invisible diversity.

There was an education event in Leeds in October. The Leeds Urban Sub Division is more than 10% Asian and more than 5% black.

A flyer showing some of the speakers was posted to Twitter.

I cannot find one single tweet commenting on a lack of diversity in this list.

Statistically this seems odd. Why are white people on one panel in Berkshire or Warwickshire, or white people (and one Asian) in Warwickshire seen as unrepresentative but white speakers in a multicultural city like Leeds not even commented on?

The most plausible answer is that the first two events had plenty of speakers who were ordinary classrooms teachers, and a range of progressive and traditionalist views on education. The Leeds event appears to be very progressive, with no traditionalist speakers and all the names I recognise belong to consultants and educationalists. It’s almost as if “diversity policing” on social media, where people harass organisers of education events for not having enough diversity in their speakers, is actually about trying to silence traditionalists and/or teachers and nothing about diversity at all.

Update 22/4/2018: 

Yesterday an event about Early Years education took place in London, where every speaker was white. One of the speakers was one of the people I quoted above as joining in with complaints about a single panel at an event in Berkshire not being diverse enough, the one who said:

Also worth considering the considerable evidence that diverse constituency of a group produces more effective outcomes (any location)

A risk of tokenism if organisers introduce diversity ‘for show’, sure. That’s why organisations do well to self review at all levels  a telling argument is tendency to perform better without echo chamber repetition typical of dominant monoculture group interactions

Odd that they didn’t feel the need to be part of a similarly public denunciation for an event where they were invited to speak.



  1. All you critic sit alone. You’re no better than me for what you’ve shown.
    Neil Young

    People in glass houses and all that too.

  2. Interesting, I might bring this up as any other business at the next Equality and Diversity meeting.

  3. The people complaining seem not to understand that the truth of an argument is independent of the people making it.

  4. ‘Diversity’ is one of the most hypocritical cant words going–by singling out ethnic minorities as having their own ‘needs’, you are conveying the not-so-subtle message that they’re not one of us. People like Tarjinder are a slap in the face of the diversity folk–like Thomas Sowell or Katherine Birbalsingh, she rejects the notion that the hue of your skin somehow sets you apart from society. Constructivist pedagogy is equally disastrous no matter where your ancestors were born.

  5. Maybe because the third event is effectively a book launch (it says they all have chapters in an upcoming book available at the event) so any target of anger at the lack of diversity would be at the publisher, not the event itself, which is, by its nature, going to focus on the thoughts of those people already in the book. The other events are curated and therefore had clearer opportunities for diversity. As they are all also essentially national events (with many, including myself, travelling to the ResearchED event in Rugby, for example), the local distribution of ethnicities is not really a relevant factor. More important would be BAME representation in teaching in general; and with that in mind the fact does stand that all these events are deeply lacking in representation.

    • That has to be one of the worst excuses I have ever heard.

      And I’m a teacher.

      • And that has to be one of the weakest rejoinders I’ve heard from you Andrew! Anarchophy’s point may not adequately explain-away the difference between the reactions, but it does point-out that you’re not comparing like-with-like, and also that your comments about location are trivial.

        • The book thing is an entirely irrelevant distinction. Why should that make any difference at all? If they shamed the publisher instead of the event, I’d understand it, but they didn’t. They left it alone.

          As for the local/national thing, I have direct experience of the fact that where you hold an event massively affects the diversity of those who attend. You can say some events are “national” but even for national events, people are far more willing to travel into London than out of it.

          • I guess we’ll have to disagree regarding the irrelevance of one conference being a book-launch conference. I do agree with you about the location of an event clearly affecting the punters who attend. Are you saying that this also includes those who are paid to speak? (I’m assuming that they get expenses covered, if nothing else)….That the speakers only come from the locale?

            • Speakers often don’t get expenses at events built around volunteers. And while this does not mean speakers can only come from the locale, it does make it unlikely they will come from all parts of the UK equally.

            • Thank you Andrew – that is useful.

  6. I am unfamiliar with the details of these specific educational events so can’t comment. But, the general idea of helping/challenging conference organisers to have a more diverse range of views on their events seems to me as beyond dispute, not only regarding race and ethnic diversity, but also gender, religion, ability and more. Ideally, this should be done before an event was held so there is a chance to increase diversity, but often details of these events are shared too late to make such changes.

    • As I said in my post, events with a “more diverse range of views” were targeted and those with only one perspective spared.

  7. Whether there are 5% Asian or 50% Asian etc children in a region genuine respect for diversity would insist that panels reflect the NATIONAL population – gone are the days when we had all MALE panels because they were the “best” available at the time. Lame excuses for inherent racism here by you mate!

    • If you organise an event feel free to do that. However, expecting others to enforce your quotas, based as they are on the idea that geography has no effect on willingness to speak, is not fair.

    • Nice side-step of the point of the post David!

      Why does the book which is the subject of the 3rd conference not have to fill your criteria? Why is it excused any “diversity”, when I imagine the book will be sold nationally?

      An ad hominen of Andrew, stupidly claiming he is racist on the basis that he notes other peoples’ anti-racism seems to be subjective, is pretty much standard I suppose. Can’t argue the point, so get personal.

      The “diversity” thing based on skin colour is all a con anyway. You can load a conference of black and asian SJWs and have no diversity at all of opinion. You could have a discussion between Jordan Peterson, Piers Morgan, Jeremy Corbyn and George Monbiot and actually have a real diversity of views and opinions, despite them all being white and male. (This is not to say that blacks and asians don’t bring different views, merely that their skin colour doesn’t automatically bring them.)

  8. […] Teaching in British schools « Using Race To Smear Education Events […]

  9. Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

  10. […] and neo-traditionalist representation at conferences. Influential UK blogger Andrew Smith writes about how calls for more inclusive representation at conferences is really a ‘smear’ […]

  11. […] Using Race To Smear Education Events […]

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