Via a reader, this story:
A publisher has said it will stop selling a GCSE textbook after it was found to contain stereotypes about Caribbean families.
The paragraph in the sociology of families section of the book reads: “In Caribbean families, the fathers and husbands are largely absent and women assume the most responsibility in childrearing.
Is this true?
The lone parent charity Gingerbread says that in families of Black or minority ethnic backgrounds, 21% are single parent families compared with 16% nationally. The parent’s gender is not stated.
Not quite “largely absent”, then. Anyway:
People on social media have called the text “racist”.
Tamu Thomas is from Motherhood Reconstructed, which celebrates black British mothers.
I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like if you were a black child, sitting in class and reading a statement like that.
I suppose it depends on whether the child is in the 21% cohort who has no father at home.
“I do acknowledge that the number of families with absent fathers is higher in the black community, proportionally. But when something is put forward as fact like that without explaining the historical reasons why that might be the case, without any context, that’s really dangerous.”
What historical reasons would they be, then?
“If we had an educational system that actually studied and analysed the black experience, including the impact of the slave trade and racism in society, it would be different,” Tamu says.
So it’s okay to say, quite correctly, that children in Caribbean families are more likely to grow up without a father – but only if slavery and racism are to blame. Now slavery ended in the Caribbean in 1834; I confess I’d quite like to attend a class explaining why this is the cause of men abandoning children they fathered in the past ten years or so.