‘Teaching positives of colonialism brushes dead bodies under the carpet’

Your digest of analysis from the British and international press

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1. Teaching my pupils the ‘positives’ of the British Empire would entrench white supremacy

Nadeine Asbali at the i news site

on teaching colonialism

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi has said schools should teach “all aspects” of the British Empire – “including the purported positives”, writes teacher Nadeine Asbali at the i news site. “What does it say of our country if the politicians in charge of education, justice and equality feel that the genocide, pillaging and invasion of half the world is an issue up for debate?” asks Asbali. “Some things are simply not two-sided.” Teachers “don’t attempt to expound any positives of Nazism because there are none”. Anyone who claims colonialism should be taught “in a balanced way” suggests that the “supposed ‘positive’ outcomes” must be “offered up on a shiny platter to whitewash the colonial machine as somehow altruistic”. This means “the dead bodies get brushed under the carpet”. And “what message does it to send to schoolchildren of colour if we present the subjugation, torture and murder of their ancestors as justified because some train tracks were built?”

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2. Government should restore £20 Universal Credit uplift and help struggling families

Gordon Brown at The Mirror

on the welfare state

“For most of our lives the British welfare state has been there for us when we require it,” writes Gordon Brown at The Mirror. It’s there “to lift us up when we are down, to provide a safety net for the most vulnerable and to take the shame out of need. But on Friday, as a result of Rishi Sunak’s betrayal of the poor, it passes a point of no return,” says the former prime minister. Families are facing rising bills, but instead of “doing more to help people in need, our welfare state is doing much less”. A family with three children on Universal Credit, “hit by Sunak’s quadruple whammy of tax rises, benefit cuts” and soaring food and heating bills – and who’ve “already seen the value of their benefits go down seven times in the last ten years” – will now receive “just £289 a week, net of council tax”. Food banks and charities are “being forced to stand in for the welfare state” and “are being asked to do the impossible”. Brown is “in awe” of the voluntary help people offer, but it “cannot replace the money lost”.

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3. Forget Will Smith and the slap, why do we politicise black women’s hair?

Ateh Jewel at The New Statesman

on hair loss

“The whole world has been analysing the scuffle” between Will Smith and Chris Rock at the Oscars, writes Ateh Jewel at The New Statesman. “Among all the noise, there is a neglect” of Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, “her feelings, and the politics of black hair and hair loss”. The slap “makes it clear that hair is culture, identity and status, and that in our society women are still judged and objectified by their hair or lack of it.” Black people “are still being discriminated against because of the natural way hair grows out of their head”, to the point that the US Congress has passed legislation called the Crown Act “to protect against hair discrimination”. Pinkett Smith’s treatment “makes it clear that you can’t win either when you have or don’t have hair”.

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4. The Ockenden Review must urgently deliver real change in the NHS

Jeremy Hunt at The Telegraph

on healthcare failings

“No parent should ever have to bury their own child,” writes Jeremy Hunt at The Telegraph. “To do so because a hospital refused again and again to learn from the same mistakes is the worst kind of agony”. It’s a “horrible realisation” that “thousands of families across Shropshire will wake up to today” when the Ockenden Review into Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital’s maternity unit is released. The former health secretary says the report “has taken several years longer than expected” because it emerged that the “23 cases of poor maternity care” that he initially called to be investigated “were just the tip of an iceberg”. This “shocking saga” poses “deeply uncomfortable questions for the NHS and regulatory system”. The MP says “there was a chilling and unforgivable failure to learn from mistakes that we now know is far from unique” to this maternity unit. Health ministers “owe it” to the campaigners and families affected by the scandal to “deliver a wake-up call on maternity safety that heralds real change”.

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5. We are all Teletubbies now

Mary Harrington at Unherd

on becoming cyborgs

Teletubbies celebrates its 25th anniversary this week, “and it was wildly successful from the moment it landed”, writes Mary Harrington. “It’s one of the most lucrative shows in BBC history, merchandising sales raking in billions.” But the show has “also spurred a subculture of perverse readings, including that the Sun Baby is a demon”. Harrington thinks “this secondary success is also richly deserved”. Teletubbies is “a brutally frank sketch of a hypermodern era that began gathering speed around the time the show launched, and has now consumed us all”. These “humanoid-but-infantile Teletubby cyborgs, media devices painlessly grafted into their flesh, are fitting avatars for a uniquely modern conflation of technology and nurturing”. This show wasn’t necessarily created for “ravers”, but it offers comfort of sorts to those in that “delicate post-rave condition of self-inflicted chemical imbalance”. Look – says Harrington – “bunnies and Tubby Toast. Eh-oh!”

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