This, being the 6th debate in the Zoom series, attracted record attendance and delivered a compelling session. The proposer, Bola Anike, presented a measured case for retaining the support of the middle class liberal consensus. She argued that fear of false accusations of racism, leads to decent people disengaging, which helps no-one. As in the Rochdale case of Asian grooming gangs, or the reticence by security staff to challenge the Manchester bomber, it was the stigma of racism that inhibited the logical response.
Too often mistakes are made out of insensitivity or lack of understanding, including unconscious bias. As for those boorish types who indulge in offensive behaviour; they look for ways to upset anyone, and are best avoided.
Accepting there is a level of racism in all societies, Bola noted the great strides made in the UK towards racial harmony over her 40 years as a Nigerian born citizen of this country.
The Opposer Sonal responded in a spirited and passionate way, citing personal experience of outright discrimination in various scenarios, such as exams, assessments and in her career within the medical profession. Persistently she testified that race was the factor which saw her under-valued time and again. From her specific experience she generalised about behavioural intolerance towards minorities in the UK.
The audience then intervened, and given the diverse composure on this night, were remarkably consistent in supporting the motion. We heard that union representation and dispute reconciliation were much to the fore these days, yet tended to show how complex these issues could be. It was largely agreed that to feel victimised is to lose sight of the bigger picture within society.
Bola’s conclusion was that by remaining positive and utterly determined to succeed the rewards will come. She asked us to accept that we are all different. So why not celebrate our uniqueness, and “wear it like a crown?”
The motion was carried by a 2/3rds majority.