Members of Barnsley's anti-racist reading group reflect on their learning from the group. 

from Northern College. Um, I just It just caught record, actually. So it's, um, Paul Gibson from Northern College. I give my permission for this to be recorded and then used and disseminated and and put on websites or whatever you need to do with it, that that's not a problem

And it's, um, 18th of January 2021 just in case. That's great. Thanks, Paul

And so Yeah, I I just wanted to start by asking you, um what your learning has been from the anti-racism reading group. Yeah, um, I think it it sort of came in in sort of three waves. Uh, initially, there's that idea

As a student, you're always looking around the room and thinking everybody knows everything apart from me. And when you you was sort of first joined the the sessions, I looked around and I thought you knew the names of the people that are there. I thought everyone's gonna know loads about anti-racism

I've already read hundreds of books. I'm gonna come along and look like, you know, some dull from from West Yorkshire. Uh, and then you get to and you and you quickly realise that we're all there for the right reasons that everybody wants to to learn and develop themselves

And there is no sort of depth of knowledge that one person has that we all sort of brought different experiences and different reading. Uh, and you realise that No, we're all we're all a little bit uncertain around this. The language that we use, the terminology

You know, you don't want to offend people, but you kind of want to understand the sort of things that were happening. Um, and it obviously from around that, um, the black lives matter stuff, Uh, and all the work that were going on around there, so it sort of really kicked on from there. So I've done a little bit of reading sort of before the group, so it fit in really well, so sort of as a person

Um, it helped me sort of really understand the issues you think to yourself. Oh, I have a good understanding of of what this is. And I think I understood the terminology and the language and the things that had happened

But when you start reading in certain books, is those real personal insights? Uh, you realise that it really isn't a particularly great place for Britain to be a non white Um, some of the the experiences and it makes it. You know, when you see statistics, you can almost sort of compartmentalise them. But when you sort of like a careless, uh, book and his sort of journey through his teens and his twenties and how how visceral and hurtful and damaging some of the experiences that he's had, Uh and it makes you think, Well, I need to be more

I think the phrase is is a visible ally. I need to be sort of out there more. And it's not about jumping on the latest sort of trend and saying, Wow, I'm a white person, I really support you

It will all through the region. It's challenging white people that say No, no, this isn't happening to black people. This isn't real

Southeast Asians don't suffer with this. It's then being a white person, saying, Well, no, you're wrong. Look, here are some of the statistics

Here are some of the experiences, you know, we need to be sort of part of the solution here, So that sort of gave me the confidence to challenge people but then, as a as a professional as well, you know, you're in class teaching, Uh, and like a lot of people again, being open and honest is I sort of had responses. If the crops up, if somebody said something, I were prepared and really nervous about where it might go. But I knew I know what to say

If someone says this, I don't know what to say. If someone says this kind of hoping if I'm 100% honest, let's hope it never crops up and then realising through through the reading group that well, no, no, you You've got to be proactive. You can't

You know, if you've been a visible ally in social media and those sorts of spaces, then in in a classroom, you've got to make sure that not be prepared. If the crop up, make sure they do, we do activities, Uh, and certain reading that will raise those questions and get people talking and not be really nervous about where the conversations are going to go be prepared and open. Make sure it's a safe space for everyone and have those discussions

And as these these past few weeks, some of the things that have been brought up, uh, have been challenging the views that people hold, and it's making sure that again, When we discussed this in the group, uh, it's making sure that it's not about judgments on people or you're a terrible person for thinking that it's looking and saying, Well, what's the background? What's their education? Have they had chances to have that? Has anyone ever said to them You do know that's an offensive phrase, don't you? Does anybody in the room know why that might be offensive? And then it's back to the students to discuss amongst themselves and sort of sometimes taking that step back and letting them explore, uh, and sort of explain and understand the sort of things that are going on and one of the the key things I can't remember who said one of the the second or third group we were in someone had said, Oh, I'm I'm really nervous. So I've got a couple of black students that they that everyone's then gonna just sort of look to them when there's a certain question. So it's making sure that that you know it's not some sort of um, like a go with the black student in the room or the the Southeast Asian student or the non white in the room Isn't the go to every time how exhausting? And quite a few of the people that we read in the group, how exhausting it has been the go to for For white people, it's happening

Explain what's happening. So it's making sure they're protected as well that when those discussions don't sort of start and end with people in the room that are non white, that they feel that pressure, uh, and exhaustion of constantly not only their own studies, but then trying to get white people up to speed as well. I think that those are probably the sort of two or three big things that sort of personal and professional, but then at home as well

You know, we have two daughters that have grown up. They're 16 and 18, hopefully in a slightly better world than than sort of. I grew up in the seventies and eighties and some of the language that we used and then they are, you know, really good at reading, really understanding the experiences

I have more non white friends than I did growing up in a sort of very much a a white, working class area. And it's really interesting to see sort of their views and how they view sort of social media and how they instantly can spot if something isn't right. You know those those sort of, um, the non truth that you can't call them lies anymore

These ideas? No, it's a It's a non truth how good they are at spotting those and how as adults. And I I I work a lot with adults, uh, students. How poor we are at spotting those

When someone puts something on social, it's like it's there and how good they've been at, sort of helping me understand that. No, you know, you've got to look a little bit deeper out it framed and then taking that to students as well. So I think it's those sort of three ways, um, that it's really helped

And and again, as we talked in the group, just nudging those family members sometimes that say things that are a challenging and you know it's not about wagging the finger and say, No, that's wrong. It is Well, I We talked about this a few times in our room in the group. How do we start those conversations? How do we gently go? No, that's wrong

And you can't say that anymore and finger wagging because it'll just you know that's not how you win somebody around. It's having those gentle conversations and those education sessions that that's wrong, Because why do you say those things? And that's a couple of, um, a couple of family members. Why did you say that? That open question

Just leave it and you know, instantly. One. Well, the twice it happened, the one person then that was my right to say that one

They're really getting quite angry and trying to defend it, because they know it's It's not an appropriate thing to say, and it's it's not a bad thing to challenge that. Brilliant. I think that I feel like Do you know what I had in my head? I'm going to talk for about 30 seconds and then Ah, no, that's brilliant

Thanks, Paul. It sounds like it's kind of yeah, made an impact in lots of different ways and give you kind of different sorts of tools to to use in different aspects of your life. So, no, that's brilliant

Thank you. So.

This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.