Monday, 25 April 2016

Managing the need to polarise.

Either you're for regulation or you're against it. Either you're for the law or you're against it. Either you despise white working class culture or you're a racist.

Counsellors and psychotherapists live in a world of nuance, listening very carefully to what people believe they're saying and actually say and attempting to discern what might actually be going on for them. But when it comes to diversity we still remain, as a profession, pretty blunt in our approach. We tend to be reactive rather than proactive - watching our professional orgs beginning to scrabble with excuses and pompous, unrealistic announcements

We . . . will continue to engage with the Joint Work and Health Unit to critically examine their ongoing work, to ensure that the full range of potential co-location options trialled are in the best interests of clients, and that the evaluations will be thorough and robust enough to pick up on all of our areas of concern.

is a good example of our need for status and our inability to acknowledge that there are huge holes in our experience and knowledge. The organisations involved in this Statement seem to have forgotten that this government dismissed their demand for regulation: they don't take us terribly seriously.

So, read Paul Mason's piece on why working class white children, particularly boys, are failing so miserably.

It was not always the case that ethnic-minority children did better than white English ones, but the reason why some of them do now is pretty obvious: their problem – racism – is defined; their language skills tend to be well-developed; their culture is one of aspiration; they have social and religious institutions that promote cohesion.

By contrast, the problem of poor white kids cannot be properly defined: not in the language of freemarket capitalism, at least. It has nothing to do with being “overtaken” – still less with any reverse discrimination against them.
It is simply that a specific part of their culture has been destroyed. A culture based on work, rising wages, strict unspoken rules against disorder, obligatory collaboration and mutual aid. It all had to go, and the means of destroying it was the long-term unemployment millions of people had to suffer in the 1980s.

At a time when we have come to believe that the individual is solely responsible for their own fate a little nuance, a little thought, a little emersion in the experience of the Other and a little reading of history will go a long way.

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