Silent Conversation (Poolside Boy) ©Fanyana Hlabanganye, 2017

This paper is crucial for understanding the rifts that divide the British society. The people and their creations are a result of their positions that the Eurocentric institutions, which cause psychological traumas that are nearly impossible to remove, forced upon them. The paper serves in our publication as part of an interdisciplinary discourse that allows us to expand our outlook to include that which the institutions we’re part of excludes, such as the BME groups’ selves as they are and could have been.

Institutional violence in formal education in the UK has been around for a long time. As the paper informs, 1970s and the 1980s was the period when it went beyond any affecting the first-generation Black and Afro-Caribbean migrants. The paper explores overt and covert forms of institutional racism to elaborate on their causes and effects. This is done primarily by using the experiences of Black students, collected through the method of Participant Observation, using official statistics about attainment and exclusion, and applying theoretical concepts by the likes of Fanon, Sewell, Fordham and many more.

The continued existence of institutional racism in education is attributed to its denial which Critical Race Theory tackles. Critical Race Theory (CRT) is the main anchor in this paper. It contradicts the traditional perspective that racism is unusual, or that is always a conscious act connected to White supremacy. According to CRT, not all racist acts are easily identifiable. Particularly in education, the White and BME teachers with the best of intentions also perpetuate deep-rooted systemic oppression against their BME students. The institutionally racist culture dictates the rules and praxes in which everyone is guided.

One of the greatest effects of Institutional racism explored in the paper is anti-Blackness / Self-hate becoming internalised by the young BME subjects. The notions of “acting White” and “acting Black” are understood using Fordham’s theory. The discourse of these notions identifies “acting White” as positive, performing well in school, and “acting Black” as negative, performing badly overall. The BME students tend to thus develop an oppositional social identity that defines certain symbols, activities, and characteristics as not applicable to themselves. Therefore, including a host of behaviours, doing well at school is defined as “acting White.” They thus become burdened by the psychic stress associated with the need for “acting White,” meaning losing connection with their identities and communities. Such circumstances become a source of frustration, causing them to develop an oppositional social identity, and in order not to lose their ‘Blackness’, they embody behaviours that are perceived as “acting Black.”