Crucially, this paper explores the rifts that divide British society. The people and their creations are seen to result from positions that Eurocentric institutions – which cause psychological traumas that are nearly impossible to remove – have forced upon them. As part of an interdisciplinary discourse, this paper pursues an expansion of outlook to include that which institutions regularly exclude, the BAME selves as they are and could have been.
Institutional violence in formal education in the UK has been present for decades. As the paper informs, the 1970s and ’80s saw violence extend beyond affecting the first generation of 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 through use of the recorded experiences of Black students, collected through participant observation and using official statistics of attainment and exclusion. Theoretical concepts, sourced from such writers as Fanon, Sewell, and Fordham, are then applied to support the assertions within.
The continued existence of institutional racism in education is attributed to its denial, a view tackled by Critical Race Theory (CRT), the paper’s theoretical anchor. It contradicts the traditional perspective that racism is unusual, or that is always a conscious act connected to white supremacy or hegemony. According to CRT, not all racist acts are easily identifiable. Particularly in education, white and BAME teachers, often with the best of intentions, may be seen to perpetuate deep-rooted systemic oppression against BAME students. It is the institutionally racist culture which dictates the praxes which allows for such occurrences.
One of the greatest effects of institutional racism, as explored in the paper, is the notion of anti-blackness as self-hate growing internalised by young BAME subjects. The notions of “acting white” and “acting black” are examined through arguments made by Fordham. This discourse identifies “acting white” as positive and “acting black” as negative, correlating to good and poor academic performance. BAME students, thus, tend to develop an oppositional social identity, defining certain symbols, activities, and characteristics as inapplicable to themselves. Such a host of behaviours is coalesced with the idea of “acting white”, and BAME students are seen to become burdened with the psychic stress of needing to “act white”, and losing connection with their identities and communities. Such circumstances become a source of frustration and, in order not to lose their “blackness”, they are seen to embody behaviours that are perceived as “acting black” in retaliation.