A ‘woke‘ anti-racism Open University training course devised by professors as well as Labour frontbencher David Lammy is teaching academics that the English language upholds ‘white superiority’.
The programme titled Union Black, which was launched last year through a £500,000 investment from Santander, claims that the idea of ‘white hegemony’ has been ‘covertly weaved’ into people’s minds.
Course material studied by academics at almost 100 UK universities including Imperial College London says ‘white superiority’ is ingrained in the ‘cultural psychology of the English language’ – and that white Europeans have most ‘successfully’ imposed racist ideas.
Another module praises cancel culture, urging participants to ‘share collective expressions of moral outrage’ and encouraging them to become ‘active allies’ in advancing racial justice.
The course’s claims about race and the English language have been blasted as ‘characteristically woke’, ‘unhistorical’, ‘ignorant’ and ‘illiterate’ by Dr Zareer Masani, historian of the British Empire.
A general view of the Open University main reception in Milton Keynes
The course has been devised by Professor Marcia Wilson (left), Dean of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the Open University, and Labour frontbencher David Lammy (right)
‘This is a sad reflection of woke brainwashing of our future academics. It betrays abysmal ignorance of how any language evolves, assimilating diverse influences along the way,’ he told The Telegraph.
The programme was developed by leading academics including Professor Marcia Wilson, Dean of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the Open University. It also includes contributions from Mr Lammy, Sir Keir Starmer‘s Shadow Justice Secretary, historian and film-maker David Olusoga and Baroness Shami Chakrabarti among others.
In one module, called ‘What is whiteness?’, the course 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.’
Dr Zareer Masani, historian of the British Empire, called the programme ‘characteristically woke’ and ‘illiterate’
It calls on university staff taking the training programme to address unconscious biases which all people are either ‘unaware of’ or ‘in denial about’.
An Open University spokesperson 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.’
MailOnline has contacted the Open University for further comment.
Santander previously said that the Union Black course was created in response to a report highlighting racial inequality in higher education. MailOnline has approached Santander for further comment.
The Telegraph reports that the course argues that the problem of white dominance is also political, stating: ‘Historically, British politics has maintained white hegemony, making immigration an existential threat to white Britons.’
The ‘Union Black’ course says one of the benefits of ‘cancel culture’ is that it can ‘hold up people or entities accountable for immoral or unacceptable behaviour’
The universities that have plugged Union Black on their websites
- University of Westminster
- University of Liverpool
- University of Sussex
- University of East London
- University of Birmingham
- Royal Holloway
- Bournemouth University
It 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’.
Course material also claims that the majority group experiencing ‘reverse racism’ from the minority group is a ‘mythical’ idea and suggests ‘some people have been improperly educated about what racism truly means’.
However, the claims go against the views of the Commission on and Ethnic Disparities, led by Tony Sewell.
The report, published last year and which split opinions, said the ‘claim the country is still institutionally racist is not borne out by the evidence’.
It concluded that racism is a ‘real force’ but said that Britain is no longer a country where the ‘system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities’. It suggested social class was more of barrier to social justice.
Some of the material has come under fire from some groups, including the Free Speech Union, who have described its teaching of ‘cancel culture’ as ‘disappointing’.
Toby Young, General Secretary of the Free Speech Union, told MailOnline: ‘The practice of publicly shaming your intellectual opponents and calling for them to lose their livelihoods is absolutely abhorrent and has no place in universities.
‘Academics should be free to dissent from prevailing campus orthodoxies without fear of punishment.
‘For Santander and the Open University to be promoting cancel culture is deeply irresponsible. Academics should be encouraged to tolerate people whose views they disagree with, not to demand their defenestration.’
The FSU’s chief legal counsel, Bryn Harris, told the Telegraph: ‘I am disappointed, though sadly not surprised, to learn that UK academics are being trained in the virtues of cancel culture.
‘It seems instead that these materials were agitprop training materials, and that this is another sad example of UK universities’ inability to be serious about academic freedom and freedom of speech.’