How to help end structural racism

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tom p
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How to help end structural racism

Post by tom p » Sat Jun 13, 2020 10:58 am

As was mentioned in the comedies being canned thread, there are real problems with inequality and structural racism in the world that need addressing rather than pointless, distracting, easy, tokenistic things like removing an episode of Fawlty Towers because it contains a character using racist language and some people wouldn't get the joke.
But what can one actually do? I'm not on the board of any companies or a millionaire investor, so can't address boardroom inequality. I'm not a copper, so can't do anything about racist cops. I'm not a journalist, so can't do anything about the media perpetrating racist stereotypes.
I can, and do, call out racism if I hear it. When I've been involved in hiring decisions, I like to think I've been colour-blind or possibly, if there's been two equally good candidates on paper, tended to give the benefit of the doubt to the person of colour, because to seem as good one is likely to have had to clear more hurdles. But what else can one do?

There's a couple of really interesting radio shows that I think anyone interested in this subject will want to listen to.
One probably won't agree with everything said (since they are conversations containing conflicting viewpoints about some things, that's pretty much inevitable), but they are undoubtedly interesting and informative and should be required listening for anyone interested in the subject (actually, they should really be required listening for people not interested in the subject.
The first one is here - it's two 1xtra DJs discussing racism in society with each other and with various guests and callers.
The second one is here. It's a follow-up discussion. I haven't listened to all of it yet, but I think that others will want to listen to it too.
Neither show provides definitive answers, but I think that they both provide lots of food for thought.

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Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by Vertigowooyay » Sat Jun 13, 2020 2:35 pm

I’ve tried to reply to this 3 times and each time I just tie myself up in knots trying to work out where to start. Change has to happen, but I can’t even guess at where to begin. Opportunities have to be better but that means education has to be better which means social issues have to be addressed which means, which means, which means... And you can trace the ingrained problem right back to our colonial history. We baked in the problem societally and economically.

There were people making Nazi salutes and shouting Eng-er-land near the Cenotaph today. That’s how bad we’ve got.
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Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by EllyCat » Sat Jun 13, 2020 6:14 pm

Vertigowooyay wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 2:35 pm
I’ve tried to reply to this 3 times and each time I just tie myself up in knots trying to work out where to start. Change has to happen, but I can’t even guess at where to begin. Opportunities have to be better but that means education has to be better which means social issues have to be addressed which means, which means, which means... And you can trace the ingrained problem right back to our colonial history. We baked in the problem societally and economically.

There were people making Nazi salutes and shouting Eng-er-land near the Cenotaph today. That’s how bad we’ve got.
I’m with you in the “going round in circles”. I think that a decent education would be a good starting point to addressing social inequality for people of colour (and hopefully do something about the ing-er-land-ers to boot)...but I’m just another white person.

Several of the people I’ve seen talking about allyship have said “this is a white problem; you’re white, go fix it!” and I feel like “well yes, I’d like to, but I’m not rich and I’m female and I can’t get my voice heard either so...what do you think I can do?”. I’m not denying that I have benefitted from white privilege, but that doesn’t give me power.

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Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by discovolante » Sat Jun 13, 2020 6:36 pm

Sorry tom I haven't got round to listening to the radio discussions yet so I'm conscious that I might be getting things wrong or repeating what is said in them.
EllyCat wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 6:14 pm
Vertigowooyay wrote:
Sat Jun 13, 2020 2:35 pm
I’ve tried to reply to this 3 times and each time I just tie myself up in knots trying to work out where to start. Change has to happen, but I can’t even guess at where to begin. Opportunities have to be better but that means education has to be better which means social issues have to be addressed which means, which means, which means... And you can trace the ingrained problem right back to our colonial history. We baked in the problem societally and economically.

There were people making Nazi salutes and shouting Eng-er-land near the Cenotaph today. That’s how bad we’ve got.
I’m with you in the “going round in circles”. I think that a decent education would be a good starting point to addressing social inequality for people of colour (and hopefully do something about the ing-er-land-ers to boot)...but I’m just another white person.

Several of the people I’ve seen talking about allyship have said “this is a white problem; you’re white, go fix it!” and I feel like “well yes, I’d like to, but I’m not rich and I’m female and I can’t get my voice heard either so...what do you think I can do?”. I’m not denying that I have benefitted from white privilege, but that doesn’t give me power.
I don't think it can be seen as a 'fix' - one other thing white people get called up on is going 'oh no I've spent a whole WEEK doing this and now I'm tired' and it's like well yeah...

I am not in any kind of position where I can make decisions either but this week during a work meeting I tried to introduce into a discussion some thoughts about how we (white lawyers) could try to adapt our practice to be conscious of issues of race and where they might come up in the work we do where it might not be immediately obvious to us. In this case it was to do with how we rely on and evaluate expert evidence, and subsequently advise clients, and where we might need to be mindful of systemic issues relating to how certain areas of expertise still contain racial disparities (this was not the topic of discussion but e.g. black women's maternal health, and black women's pain and health problems being minimised/trivialised - expert evidence *may* not take into account these issues on e.g. a review of medical records and could accordingly fall short). As you can imagine I explained it even less coherently and clearly than I have here, in part because I realised I was kind of shoehorning it into a discussion that hadn't previously been about race at all, so there hadn't really been an opportunity for it to be discussed properly - but there won't be an opportunity to do that unless someone starts talking about it.

I'm a bit reluctant to post this in case it looks like I'm talking a load of incoherent drivel, and I'm also not sure how this helps 'end' structural racism when all you are really doing is acknowledging the structures that exist, but perhaps that is one of the starting points rather than immediately looking at a top down approach.
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Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by tom p » Sat Jun 13, 2020 9:26 pm

I'm a bit reluctant to post this in case it looks like I'm talking a load of incoherent drivel, ...

You're not.

... and I'm also not sure how this helps 'end' structural racism when all you are really doing is acknowledging the structures that exist, but perhaps that is one of the starting points rather than immediately looking at a top down approach

Well, I don't think any one person can, but these sort of little things must help. If all of us who mean well do what we can, then it can only help, as those who don't care are kinda pushed into doing good things and those who mean I'll get effectively sidelined.

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Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by Fishnut » Sun Jun 14, 2020 8:47 am

I've been thinking about this question ever since tomp asked it and while, unsurprisingly, I don't have any real answers the ways I'm trying to help are by educating myself and then calling out racism when I can do so coherently.

It's been really disappointing to see my family coming out with now-familiar excuses for why Colston's statue should have remained. "He was a great philanthropist", "he made most of his money in wine"( :?: ), "he was only doing what everyone did back then". What's even more disappointing is that they don't want to be challenged, and when I try they just shut down the conversation, literally saying "stop, I don't want to talk about this any more" after having spent 10 minutes bemoaning the protestors for their actions and that Gone With The Wind has been taken off the TV (in the US, not even here!). Oh, and GWTW is fine because it's old and just reflecting the times it was made, plus they gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar so they couldn't have been racist :shock: :roll:. So, in the same way that charity supposedly starts at home I'm trying to find ways of getting my family to understand that racism isn't something that other people do or that you can say racist things without being a racist.

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Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by discovolante » Sun Jun 14, 2020 9:08 am

Fishnut wrote:
Sun Jun 14, 2020 8:47 am
I've been thinking about this question ever since tomp asked it and while, unsurprisingly, I don't have any real answers the ways I'm trying to help are by educating myself and then calling out racism when I can do so coherently.

It's been really disappointing to see my family coming out with now-familiar excuses for why Colston's statue should have remained. "He was a great philanthropist", "he made most of his money in wine"( :?: ), "he was only doing what everyone did back then". What's even more disappointing is that they don't want to be challenged, and when I try they just shut down the conversation, literally saying "stop, I don't want to talk about this any more" after having spent 10 minutes bemoaning the protestors for their actions and that Gone With The Wind has been taken off the TV (in the US, not even here!). Oh, and GWTW is fine because it's old and just reflecting the times it was made, plus they gave Hattie McDaniel an Oscar so they couldn't have been racist :shock: :roll:. So, in the same way that charity supposedly starts at home I'm trying to find ways of getting my family to understand that racism isn't something that other people do or that you can say racist things without being a racist.
In the 'changing minds' thread I asked some stuff about who should be the target of our energy and used racism as an example. Maybe I'm projecting but I think a lot if not most of us who are white have a lot to learn ourselves about racism and how it manifests in different situations, and how we may fail to spot it, fail to stop it, be inadvertently complicit etc. So I think one thing to start with is taking the time ourselves to learn more, which I am being doing and have been trying to do for a while, but I have to admit recent events have refocused my attention. It's quite difficult sometimes tbh and I might well look back on some of my posts about this in the future and cringe in shame as I have about other stuff...

And then alongside that, there are probably a lot of people who are 'well meaning' or perhaps just haven't though about it that much, who may need nudging in the right direction. I think one of the hardest things to overcome initially seems to be 'white guilt' (connected with 'white fragility') where people who don't see themselves as racist get so upset at the thought that they might have had a part to play in structural racism that they shut down, get defensive, seek assurance from their black friends etc, rather than trying to come to terms with it and trying to work out how they can address it more productively from now on (I think we have discussed this a bit on FB Fishnut!). I think a lot of Black people and people of colour have lost patience with that so the response is 'just get over it, we don't want to hear about it'. Which is fair enough from their point of view but I wonder if it's something white people can help other white people work through...that's not an ideal solution and may throw up its own problems but it's just a thought, and something I haven't really properly figured out yet.

So yeah where am I going with this...perhaps there is a lot of 'low hanging fruit' in people who want to improve but don't know how - see all the people online asking for 'reading lists' and getting a bit of eye rolling back at them. So maybe we all owe it to each other to focus on that first (among ourselves and other people) before we start trying to change the minds of people who think they 'aren't racist' but don't really believe there is much of a problem beyond the odd violently racist thug. Happy to be persuaded out of this if I'm wrong...
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Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by JQH » Sun Jun 14, 2020 12:55 pm

Sounds pretty well thought out to me.
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Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by jimbob » Tue Jun 16, 2020 6:29 am

The Telegraph of all papers has this good Twitter thread about systemic racism in the UK
https://twitter.com/Telegraph/status/12 ... 08416?s=20
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Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by jimbob » Tue Jun 16, 2020 7:10 am

The Telegraph of all papers has this good Twitter thread about systemic racism in the UK
https://twitter.com/Telegraph/status/12 ... 08416?s=20
Have you considered stupidity as an explanation

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Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by Bird on a Fire » Thu Jun 18, 2020 1:51 am

I've been thinking about this a lot as well. Good thread, Tom.

As you suggest, I think we have to recognise that we're not going to "fix" this, but we all need to be working on it, probably forever.

I think it's very important, as we all become conscious of changes we need to make to power structures, that the conversation and movement are based on the voices of people of colour. I like the idea that disco floats of white people supporting each other - it shifts that burden of support from the people of colour who have already got plenty to do to overcome those structures.

At least in my "professional community", there have been plenty of articles written by people of colour about they struggles they face and what they'd like to see white people doing to help fix things. For example, I'll share the recommendations from one, because I think they're mostly quite widely applicable for knowledge workers:
Solo North et al wrote:1. Help us reject and uproot racism from our workplace, and even minor changes you make will help bring substantial change. There is no joy for us should you fail, for we realize the uphill task that lies ahead, but even slow, gradual change is a (R)evolution (as we all know).

2. Lend your voice to your BIPOC students and colleagues. Many fear reprisal for speaking out. Many speak out knowing they will be targeted privately and publicly.

3. The past cannot be undone, but we may yet undo the future that feels almost certain for the disenfranchised. Introduce BIPOC students to your network, invite them to work with you, and give them opportunities to build their CV. Nominate them for recognition when theres a chance, and not just for diversity categories.

4. Words matter, and actions speak louder than words, but your simple words can stop the myriad expressions of racism. This will be a powerful action. Help design systems and practices that challenge institutional cultures where they are discriminatory.

5. Don’t treat your BIPOC students, postdocs, or faculty as curiosities. They got there with their wits and hard work, same as anyone else. Acknowledge them, respect them, hear them, criticize them, just as you would any human.

6. Say our name. If you have to say our name, please do not say “I will butcher this, so I will not say it”. Nothing makes us feel like we don’t belong than to be reminded that your name sounds different, or worse, unpronounceable. Learn our names and say it loud and proud.

7. The lengthy history of racism is full of white people ‘doing what’s right for the colored’. Think twice about making plans for them, and preferably never without their embedded participation.
From An Open Letter to the EEB Community.

There are probably several equivalent articles for most fields, though finding them might involve rootling around on Twitter. Professional publications should also be addressing this - check with friendly editors you know, or @ their public account, to ask what they've got coming up.

In terms of reading lists, the US bestsellers list is currently awash with books by people of colour, written expressly for white people who want to do their bit. I've downloaded (but not yet read) How to be an Anti Racist by Ibram X. Kendi. Some others mentioned here and here is another list in the Guardian for a UK audience. So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo looks like an excellent primer.

I really think the most helpful thing most of us can do is be self-reflective, be active in the conversations happening around us, and encourage our communities to actively promote opportunities for people of colour. Listen to people, feel uncomfortable, process it. We're gonna have to be total anti-racism nerds.
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Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by discovolante » Thu Jun 18, 2020 8:31 am

This thread may offer food for thought on a personal level...(for me too):

https://twitter.com/KGuilaine/status/12 ... 17952?s=20

Re the white people supporting each other thing - I was a bit hesitant to suggest it because I think there is a risk of it becoming a back-patting exercise e.g. 'there then you are good really, now you can move on and go about your day as normal' - but then it's not like i was proposing some kind of formal 'white person's forum', just something to be mindful of and a possible approach.
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Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by Stephanie » Thu Jun 18, 2020 8:43 am

discovolante wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 8:31 am
This thread may offer food for thought on a personal level...(for me too):

https://twitter.com/KGuilaine/status/12 ... 17952?s=20

Re the white people supporting each other thing - I was a bit hesitant to suggest it because I think there is a risk of it becoming a back-patting exercise e.g. 'there then you are good really, now you can move on and go about your day as normal' - but then it's not like i was proposing some kind of formal 'white person's forum', just something to be mindful of and a possible approach.
I have just read that thread, RT'd by someone else, and was coming here to share.

I definitely think it relates to what boaf said about being self-reflective, think about why you're doing something, check to make sure you're not reinventing the wheel. Something I've come across in feminist stuff is "father of daughters" suddenly gets an epiphany about feminism, thinks he's the first person to have noticed, doesn't bother checking to see what people have already been doing, starts an initiative - then sits back expecting us all to praise him. Obviously it's great when people notice a problem and want to help, but I think sometimes it's better to amplify existing work being done in those communities.

ETA: changed a word
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Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by tom p » Thu Jun 18, 2020 12:11 pm

Stephanie wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 8:43 am
discovolante wrote:
Thu Jun 18, 2020 8:31 am
This thread may offer food for thought on a personal level...(for me too):

https://twitter.com/KGuilaine/status/12 ... 17952?s=20

Re the white people supporting each other thing - I was a bit hesitant to suggest it because I think there is a risk of it becoming a back-patting exercise e.g. 'there then you are good really, now you can move on and go about your day as normal' - but then it's not like i was proposing some kind of formal 'white person's forum', just something to be mindful of and a possible approach.
I have just read that thread, RT'd by someone else, and was coming here to share.

I definitely think it relates to what boaf said about being self-reflective, think about why you're doing something, check to make sure you're not reinventing the wheel. Something I've come across in feminist stuff is "father of daughters" suddenly gets an epiphany about feminism, thinks he's the first person to have noticed, doesn't bother checking to see what people have already been doing, starts an initiative - then sits back expecting us all to praise him.
Like how Jay-Z announced he would no longer be singing "I got 99 problems, but a bitch ain't one" when him and Beyonce had a daughter.

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Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by discovolante » Thu Jun 25, 2020 11:01 am

This might not be the right thread for it, but I just wanted to post about something that's been happening over the last couple of days.

A couple of days ago Dr Priyamvada Gopal, a lecturer (Professor? See below) in colonial and postcolonial literature and theory at Cambridge Uni who is very active on Twitter - and who also wrote Insurgent Empire which was published last year, and which I read earlier this year and posted about briefly on the book thread (it is very interesting), tweeted 'White lives do not matter. As white lives.' (I can't find the tweet now, it may have been removed - see below).

Provocative maybe, but she has explained that what she meant was that whiteness is not something in itself that needs protecting. She used this analogy (I'm picking this explanation because caste and anti-blackness in India is also something she tweets about a lot):
20200625_113614.jpg
20200625_113614.jpg (304.82 KiB) Viewed 421 times
https://mobile.twitter.com/PriyamvadaGo ... 0485108737

(Can I suggest, at this point, that this thread isn't the place to debate the rightness or wrongness about what she's saying, or whether she is inciting hatred or whatever.)

Anyway shortly following this she is bombarded with an absolute torrent of racist abuse and death threats, to her Twitter account (check her timeline, it's an absolute shitshow), her (presumably work) email account etc. She has tweeted a lot of the emails she received and retweeted some of the abusive tweets so I'm not going to repeat them here, you can see for yourself, but it's vile. Apparently people she knows have been threatened too. She thinks it originated from 4chan, that lovely place.

This morning Dr Charlotte Riley, tweeted to say that Dr (Prof?) Gopal has been suspended from Twitter 'for making public the racist abuse she has been receiving' and linked to a medium article from her explaining what had happened but as of last night it was announced that she has been promoted to Professorial Chair. The reason I keep ??ing whether she should be called Prof is because I don't know how the academic system works, I assume it is another name for a professorship but there seem to be all sorts of weird other titles so please let me know...

Link here: https://mobile.twitter.com/lottelydia/s ... 6757613568

What I don't get is that her account is still visible and I don't know what reasons she was actually given by Twitter, but it seems bonkers to suspend her account if that's what has happened.

Something to note is that several people involved in the attack against her have compared Cambridge Uni's stance of defending her (which they have done) to the same uni rescinding its offer of a visiting fellowship to Jordan Peterson, accusing it of hypocrisy/double standards and anti-white racism.

Anyway as I said, I wasn't sure where best to put this and if it does get discussed and it seems it should be moved to a different thread or split to a new one I will do that. I just chose to post it here as an example of a really horrible co-ordinated attack on someone that is totally disproportionate to what they have said, whether you agree with them or not (and again I'm just saying that because I don't think this is the thread to discuss that). In this case it's the inadequacy of the internet (heh, 'the internet') in terms of managing this kind of thing and how quickly pretty large scale attacks can be co coordinated - it is no wonder people are worried about speaking out and contributes to the difficulties in being able to challenge inequalities.
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Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by Bewildered » Thu Jun 25, 2020 11:24 am

Thanks for sharing it. I’d vote for it be given it’s own thread though.

Utterly disgusting that she is on the receiving end of that stuff, though sadly I am not surprised by it.

A chair is normally like a distinguished named professorial position, as i understand it. For example there is the Kelvin chair at the University of Glasgow and the chair at Cambridge that was occupied by newton and Hawking. Or maybe cambridge calls all its full professorships “chairs” not sure.

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Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by discovolante » Thu Jun 25, 2020 11:27 am

Bewildered wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 11:24 am
Thanks for sharing it. I’d vote for it be given it’s own thread though.

Utterly disgusting that she is on the receiving end of that stuff, though sadly I am not surprised by it.

A chair is normally like a distinguished named professorial position, as i understand it. For example there is the Kelvin chair at the University of Glasgow and the chair at Cambridge that was occupied by newton and Hawking. Or maybe cambridge calls all its full professorships “chairs” not sure.
OK thank you. Prof Gopal it is then!
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Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by discovolante » Thu Jun 25, 2020 12:02 pm

Update, she is back on Twitter, apparently 4chan has shared info about an address claiming it to be hers, which it isn't, and now Cambridge Police are patrolling the area. FFS.
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Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by Gentleman Jim » Thu Jun 25, 2020 12:05 pm

We can only hope that the numbskulls that use such vile threats are the same ones that are flocking to the beaches now and getting really close to each other :twisted:
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Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by Stephanie » Thu Jun 25, 2020 9:00 pm

This is a good thread on the situation with Prof Gopal

https://twitter.com/NicholasGuyatt/stat ... 73249?s=19
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Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by discovolante » Thu Jun 25, 2020 10:09 pm

Stephanie wrote:
Thu Jun 25, 2020 9:00 pm
This is a good thread on the situation with Prof Gopal

https://twitter.com/NicholasGuyatt/stat ... 73249?s=19
It's a good thread, and also in a way highlights the crap level of debate in the mainstream media (and I don't mean the DM and all that lot)...I think that is one thing that has sunk in for me in the past few weeks, I have to admit, just how utterly inadequate it is at all of this (and everything else). I should have realised before but it wasn't making the front pages, more fool me.
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Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by Herainestold » Sat Jun 27, 2020 12:57 am

Heartening to see Dr. Gopal rewarded inspite of her detractors.

If you are a supervisor or manager of BAME or POC people, you could consider resigning on the condition that your successor is a BAME or POC person.
BAME and POC people have been unjustly not been promoted because of white supremacy. BAME and POC people are very likely to be more highly motivated and qualified than their white counter parts because of white racism. Their promotion would help the organization as they will be better at their job. Something that should be considered.

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Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by Stephanie » Sat Jun 27, 2020 7:38 am

Herainestold wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 12:57 am
Heartening to see Dr. Gopal rewarded inspite of her detractors.

If you are a supervisor or manager of BAME or POC people, you could consider resigning on the condition that your successor is a BAME or POC person.
BAME and POC people have been unjustly not been promoted because of white supremacy. BAME and POC people are very likely to be more highly motivated and qualified than their white counter parts because of white racism. Their promotion would help the organization as they will be better at their job. Something that should be considered.
Cute, but stop trolling. It's getting boring now, and I'm not interested in you doing this here.
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Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by discovolante » Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:42 am

The situation has turned into an absolute shitshow on twitter and in real life, leading to Sarah Vine and Allison Pearson raising the profile of a fake tweet that was RTed by David Vance(!), that was then repeated in the DM - Prof Gopal is now suing, and apparently there have been posters (don't know how many) put up round Cambridge attacking her. Sarah Vine and Allison Pearson have backtracked a bit but it seems the damage is done...

I guess if you're on Twitter, Prof Gopal has asked that any dodgy tweets are brought to her attention, she probably won't see them all but could be worth keeping an eye out.
don't get any big ideas, they're not gonna happen

Millennie Al
Clardic Fug
Posts: 181
Joined: Mon Mar 16, 2020 4:02 am

Re: How to help end structural racism

Post by Millennie Al » Mon Jun 29, 2020 1:23 am

I think Prof. Gopal is clearly a champion of trolling. The reaction to her tweeting was entirely predictable, yet it is still highly amusing to see her winding up the racists.
Covid-19 - Don't catch it: don't spread it.

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