Monday, 6 September 2010

News from Leeds Salon

The Myth of Racist Kids
Monday 11 October 2010
Leeds Civic Hall (off Millennium Square)
Committee Rooms 6 & 7
6:45pm (for a 7pm start) to 8:30pm.

Leeds Salon invites film maker and anti-racism campaigner Adrian Hart to discuss his book The Myth of Racist Kids: Anti-racist policy and the regulation of school life (Manifesto Club 2009).

Many of the ‘racist incidents’ reported by schools involve very young children and include cases of name-calling in the playground and arguments between friends. A growing ‘race relations industry’ has moved into the daily life of schools and even nurseries, with the aim of combating prejudice in children as young as three.

In The Myth of Racist Kids Adrian Hart argues that well-meaning policies have led to a growing regulation of children’s peer relationships, and the undermining of teachers’ ability to deal with everyday classroom incidents. The growing myth of racist kids can actually create ethnic tensions, stifling the trend towards increasing openness and intermixing.

Others warn against complacency, arguing that society is still racist and that education is the best means of combating racist and sexist stereotypes. Rather than ignoring or minimising playground incidents, we should be vigilant and stamp racism out while individuals are still young and more likely to change their attitudes. Besides, adults have always taught children how to behave and what language is and isn’t acceptable. Isn’t that an important part of a child’s education?

So are our schools institutionally racist or confidently multicultural? Should playground name-calling be taken seriously and eliminated, or is it an inevitable and potentially formative part of childhood? Do anti-racist policies just benefit the so-called ‘anti-racism industry’ or do they protect ethnic minorities from prejudice? Should schools and teachers use their own judgement in discriminating between silly name-calling and actual racism, or should they follow official policy to the letter and report every incident, regardless of context?

Adrian Hart is an award winning community film-maker and founder of Coyote Films. He is a lecturer to special needs students, an author and an anti-racism campaigner. Adrian Hart's film work includes: 'Safe' (winner LWTs Whose London? 2002), Moving Here' (awarded beacon status 2006) and 'Only Human' (2006 broadcast on Teachers TV in 2009). Adrian is also a member of The Brighton Salon. Visit his website here.

Readings & Reviews
Runnymede Trust Consultation Response, 4 March 2010
Spiked Review of Books, Helene Guldberg, February 2010
Culture Wars, Sean Bell, Culture Wars, 17 November 2009
Daily Telegraph, Martin Beckford, 29 October 2009
Daily Telegraph, Josie Appleton, 29 October 2009

This is a satellite event leading up to the Institute of Ideas’ annual festival of debate, the Battle of Ideas 2010, being held in London on Saturday 30 & Sunday 31 October.

This is a free event, but a voluntary contribution towards costs will be asked for on the night. To let us know you’re coming please reply to this e-mail, or contact us or join our mailing list at:, and join our group on Facebook.

The West Yorkshire Branch of the British Science Association has put together an evening centred around William Astbury’s influence in medical science. Talks will feature Professor Sheena Radford and Bruce Turnbull, and there will be exciting demonstrations and a chance to chat to the presenters and other researchers from Leeds University over wine and cheese.
Thursday 16 September, Thackray Museum, Leeds. For more information and to purchase tickets click here.

Forthcoming events at Leeds Salon
Monday 15 November: Ferraris for All: Is Unfettered Growth Possible or Desirable? – Journalist and economics writer Daniel Ben-Ami and Green Party founder-member Clive Lord will discuss the limits and desirability of economic growth.

Monday 13 December: The ‘Two Cultures’ Debate – In a famous lecture delivered over half a century ago, CP Snow raised concerns about the increasing alienation of humanist intellectuals from science. Professor Ray Tallis will argue that this problem is more complex than Snow thought and addressing it may be even more challenging than he imagined.

Leeds Salon is a public debating forum which promotes lively and open debate around contemporary political, cultural and scientific issues. Visit our new website to find out about events, the organisers and writings from Leeds Salon attendees. Also see Is Leeds a City of Debate…? by Leeds Salon co-founder Paul Thomas on the Leeds-based online magazine Culture Vulture, and join in the online discussion.

Leeds Salon is also joined with the online journal Freedom in a Puritan Age to provide an outlet for writing and continued discussion. FIPA is a project in free enquiry that aims to identify countervailing currents in progressive thought within our culture and provide alternative viewpoints on the main issues of our day. It invites submissions of articles, essays, and reviews. Send your work (or proposal) to

Michele Ledda & Paul Thomas
Leeds Salon

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