BY EFFIE DEANS
White privilege comes in many forms. You have the privilege of your mother leaving your father for another man and then being convicted of killing this new lover. You have the privilege of your new step mother having four children with three different men, but she doesn’t care for any of them and least of all does she care for you. You have the privilege of being forced to stand for hours on end, while everyone else eats ice cream. Finally, you have the privilege of being forced to eat salt until it kills you.
Parliament is outraged. Something must be done. But we have been through all this so often. There is a long list of vaguely remembered names that we were all once outraged about. But nothing changed. Next year or the year after there will be another name, another death that might have been prevented, but wasn’t because of yet another woke course that causes social workers to close their eyes to the real problem.
It isn’t accidental that social workers miss abuse. We will go through a ritual of a public inquiry. It will recommend new training courses, new safeguards, better this and better that. But nothing will change until you eradicate an ideology that views everything through identity politics and thinks that there is a hierarchy of victims.
There was a time when the local district nurse would visit the homes of children and be judgmental about the parents and the home environment. Was the house clean and tidy? What sort of food was in the cupboard? Did the father have a steady job? Were there signs of immorality? If it was obvious that the child was from a good family, there was no need to check back very often. If the parents had bad habits and a history of petty crime, they had to be watched closely. But now we mustn’t be judgmental.
The Scottish Government tells us that we mustn’t call drug users addicts, because that would be judgmental. Instead, we are supposed to say that drug users are unwell. When social workers go into a drug user’s house, they are not going to be judgmental if it is filthy with drug paraphernalia lying about and a child in unclean nappies annoying its mother with its crying. Above all don’t call the mother an addict, what matters is the feelings of the drug user and the hurtful words we use.
The route through college or university is now a woke obstacle course. You are not going to pass your social work course if you question identity politics too closely. There are victims and villains. At the peak of villainy are rich white men who vote Tory. Various characteristics give you a degree of victimhood. White people can be victims if they are poor single mothers with multiple children from different fathers, even if they also obviously have an inherent white privilege which they can no more change than a leopard can change its spots.
It means that the authorities will treat the case of a poor white girl complaining of being raped differently according to who she is accusing. She might even be called racist if she accuses a gang of men from the wrong ethnicity. But just as identity politics caused the crimes of such men to be ignored, so too it causes other forms of child abuse to be ignored and for the same reason.
It isn’t merely that social workers waste their time going on woke courses rather than courses that would teach them to identify child abuse. No one really needs a course to tell that a child has bruises or is distressed or undernourished. The problem is that the basic common sense that we grow up with that would immediately identify abuse is distorted by the woke courses. Instead of judging impartially and objectively we see through a prism of identity that sees more harm if it comes from a nice middle-class family with good jobs, than if it comes from the home of the underprivileged.
If Arthur Labinjo-Hughes had a father working in the city and a step mother working as an engineer then a mere fraction of the signs of abuse that were present would have been enough for the case to have been investigated thoroughly. It was his misfortune to be living in a family somewhere near the bottom of the heap. It was for this reason that social workers felt they couldn’t be just too judgemental about his parents. If he had been a little black boy his “black privilege” would have made it still more likely that the social workers would cut his parents some slack. After all we mustn’t judge the parenting skills of the poor and downtrodden. And if the little boy died, we could still feel warm about the fact that his black life mattered.
Woke politics must be taken out of social work, or else nothing will change. It’s not merely that the obsession with identity politics is a waste of time. Worse it teaches students to lose their common sense. If you can believe that a father can give birth, you can also believe that a battered child is loved by his parents. Worse still you are conditioned to excuse the inexcusable because the parent is poor, or black or drug addict, while condemning the rest of us for the white privilege of owning the slaves which our ancestors fought to abolish.
The excellent Effie Deans writes at Lily of St. Leonard’s here.