'White privilege' is a 'divisive' and 'unhelpful' term

The term ‘White privilege’ is ‘divisive’ and ‘unhelpful’ says the new head of UK’s equality watchdog

  • Baroness Falkner of Margravine said people are better off learning about rights
  • She said the expression white privilege is an ‘unhelpful way of looking at society’
  • A a report last month claimed terminology such as ‘white privilege’ may have contributed towards a ‘systemic neglect’ of white working-class pupils 

The term ‘white privilege’ has been described as ‘divisive’ and ‘unhelpful’ by the head of the UK’s equality watchdog.

Equality and Human Rights Commission chairwoman Baroness Falkner of Margravine has said in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph that young people are better off learning about civic rights than worrying about the ‘innate advantages’ of other groups of their peers.

Kishwer Falkner, 66, told the paper she regards expressions such as white privilege an ‘unhelpful way of looking at society’.

She said: ‘If we taught rights in the curriculum, human rights, civic rights, that would be the more relevant thing to teach our young people, rather than fretting about one group versus another group, and whether one group has had innate advantages that other groups don’t have.

‘I prefer a unifying discourse to a divisive discourse. And I find those expressions to be divisive.’

Equality and Human Rights Commission chairwoman Baroness Falkner of Margravine (pictured) said she regards expressions such as white privilege an ‘unhelpful way of looking at society’

Her comments come after a report from the Commons Education Select Committee last month claimed terminology such as ‘white privilege’ may have contributed towards a ‘systemic neglect’ of white working-class pupils.

The Conservative-dominated committee said white working-class pupils have been ‘let down’ for decades by England’s education system – and ‘divisive’ language can make the situation worse.

The report concluded that disadvantaged white pupils have been badly let down by ‘muddled’ policy thinking and the Department for Education has failed to acknowledge the extent of the problem.

The Government has been criticised for its policies to support families on lower incomes throughout the coronavirus pandemic and Tory MPs have been accused of stoking a ‘culture war’ with the report.

Her comments come after a report from the Commons Education Select Committee last month claimed terminology such as ‘white privilege’ may have contributed towards a ‘systemic neglect’ of white working-class pupils

Critics say it is the Conservative Government, rather than terms such as ‘white privilege’, which have failed poorer children.

A Department for Education spokesman said: ‘This Government is focused on levelling up opportunity so that no young person is left behind.

‘That’s why we are providing the biggest uplift to school funding in a decade – £14 billion over three years – investing in early years education and targeting our ambitious recovery funding, worth £3 billion to date, to support disadvantaged pupils aged two to 19 with their attainment.’

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