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White Working Class Girls Lives Matter
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by Inaya Folarin Iman | @InayaFolarin
June 8, 2020 at 10:07 am

Last week, thousands of people densely crowded into Central London to protest against, what they argued was, ‘systemic racism’ in America, and by a bizarre extension Britain, in response to the unjust killing of George Floyd by an American police officer in the US.

As much as I disagree with most of what has immediately transpired since, such as the riots and violence, I do not diminish the righteous anger that has been expressed by many, to what they perceive of as ‘racial injustice’.

But I must admit, in the UK at least, it has been fascinating to witness scenes of people screaming ‘hands up, don’t shoot!’ to a disarmed, and relatively benign police force. 

Not only that, but I have been astonished by the level of hypocrisy and contradiction that has saturated the recent discussions surrounding race-related issues in Britain.

As people rail against systemic injustice, I cannot help but wonder about the deafening silence about the biggest, most unjust race-related issue plaguing the UK today: grooming gangs – how thousands of predominantly white working class girls have been groomed, raped and abused by largely men of Pakistani heritage.

Lord Macdonald has called on all communities to recognise it is a “profoundly racist crime”.

Several placards and posts have been made professing the statement ‘silence is violence’ or ‘silence is complicity’, as if we all, including many of the protesters, are not silent or turn a blind eye to a vast array of wrongs and injustices, on a daily basis. 

I agree, we all can and should do better and it’s much more complicated.

But there is something deeply dishonest and sinister about this flagrant attempt to attain moral superiority over others by signalling one’s virtue simply by how much one protests and posts on social media about racism. When, in truth, that’s pretty easy.

Given that the overwhelming majority of corporations, the media, political and cultural establishment endorse these protests, it is hardly an act of defiance or challenging for dominant sensibilities to back the protests.

Unfortunately, this is fundamentally in contrast to the way many people have been treated for speaking out about grooming gangs. 

In August 2017, Labour MP Sarah Champion resigned from her position as Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, following criticism of an opinion piece she wrote for The Sun which drew attention to the problem of young white girls being raped and exploited by British Pakistani men.

Meanwhile the government continues to stall on releasing the report on grooming gangs. It is beyond words that this problem continues, despite countless scandals, campaigns, investigations, and reports.

It is terrifying to think that many of these children were disbelieved, blamed or even charged, for speaking out. Not only that, but several care workers and police officers have been implicated or complicit in the abuse. Precisely the opposite of aggressive and over-policing.

We’ve got to be able to have a frank and honest conversation about how and why almost all of the perpetrators come from a particular ethnic and religious background and why so many institutions catastrophically failed these children. This conversation must be had out in the open, in the public sphere.

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If the UK BLM protests increase awareness and understanding about race-related injustice in Britain, and spark positive change, fine, that’s good. But let’s not pretend that the only race-related issue in the UK is one of white people discriminating against ethnic minorities.

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