Open University anti-racist training course claims 'white superiority' is 'embedded in English language'

The programme has seen an investment of £500,000 from Santander and looks to explore “Britain's black cultures and steps to anti-racism"

Published

An Open University training course has told academics that the English language is “embedded with white superiority”.

The programme, Union Black, which has seen an investment of £500,000 from Santander, has been described as “Britain's black cultures and steps to anti-racism, a new six-hour online learning course".

It claims to “challenge racial myths and biases in Britain through the lens of Black cultures, then develop your commitment to lasting change".

Programme contributors include Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy, and Shami Chakrabarti.

Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy has contributed to the programme.
Shadow Justice Secretary David Lammy has contributed to the programme.

Recipients of the training include a number of top universities, including Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Imperial College London and Liverpool.

One module titled “What is whiteness?” states: “Along with religion, politics, laws and customs, white superiority is embedded in the linguistic and cultural psychology of the English language.

“Consequently, given the global reach of the English language, the assumption of white hegemony has been covertly weaved into the consciousness of white people, black people and people of colour.”

Elsewhere the course claims that white dominance is both linguistic and political, explaining: “Historically, British politics has maintained white hegemony, making immigration an existential threat to white Britons…

“In 1955, the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, won a general election with a ‘Keep England White’ theme.”

It stresses the importance of addressing unconscious biases, which it claims people are “in denial about” but fails to offer any solutions or advice in regards to addressing apparent white hegemony.

It also defines “whiteness” as “the systemic and structural domination and oppression of ‘non-white’ peoples”, informing students that “white’ people only exist in opposition to ‘black’ people, both of which are socially constructed ideologies”.

The course aims to take "steps to anti-racism".
The course aims to take "steps to anti-racism".

Responding to criticism, Union Black said: “We are proud to have worked together with Santander on developing this course which is aimed at increasing awareness of racism and building allyship to support inclusion.

“Feedback from participants on the course has been extremely positive, and we are recommending it to staff and students across all UK universities.

“We developed the content for the course in collaboration with leading academics in diversity and inclusion, from both inside and outside of The Open University.

“This course, through its content, is designed to increase staff and students' understanding of racism.

“Participants are encouraged to think about how they can work towards being allies and the practical steps that they can take.”