Sunday, 29 June 2008

Thank You Comrades!

To Bal, Mo, Hark, Probjot, Jim and Clara,

Many thanks again for making this year's AMICUS/UNITE Leadership Skills course for BME members and activists such a stimulating and challenging course.

This course ran between 23-27 June at the AMICUS/UNITE Centre in Esher and is one of the leadership skills events for a range of equality strands including LGBT and women members.
A question I'd like to propose to visitors of this blog is one that arose from the outset of the BME course which was whether there is still a need to hold BME-only activist training. There was much debate during the week around this question and I'd welcome contributions on this point.
Best wishes


Chicken said...

seems like the countrys going mad. I didnt even know such courses went ahead much less askng for opinions on it!

Im not a union member thank god as I would hate to see my money being spent on racist nonsense like blacks only courses.

Why cant you train all of your people together?

Ian Manborde said...

Dear Friend,

Thanks for your reply.

I'm not too sure why you feel it is 'racist' to suggest that specific course, like the AMICUS/UNITE leadership skills programme, attempts to increase the degree of activism across its membership base.

It is a pity you are not in a union.

If you were you'd appreciate the value of having as member workplace representatives as possible, black or white, to ensure that you were properly supported should you have a problem at work.

Thank again for your input.


davies said...

Dear Ian,

As a white trade unionist I see no problem with areas of work like this.

We don't for example throw our hands in the air when we put on events for young members do we?

For me the issue, as you stated originally, is to get as many members active across the movement as possible.

Similarly, in relation to BME groups, we have a better chance of being able to organise in partnership with a broad range of religious and community groups.

Seems like a 'no-brainer' to me.


Bal said...

Dear chicken

I was one of the students on this course in June and this issue was also raised then - we certainly can't be accused of shying away from issues!

In response to your post and as I said on the course, there is a distinction that needs to be made between courses which raise awareness and equalities training which would be appropriate to have a generic group and this type of course.

This course is aimed at meeting the specific needs of Black and Ethnic Minority members therefore needs to be for those members only, in the same way a course that identified and supported the needs of women, would also need to be for women only so that we could discuss openly, and safely about issues particular to us, or any group as Davies states... I recognise the needs for a young persons group and also GLBT too, etc. The needs of older people is one of my areas of interest as well as those mentioned above.

Again I re-iterate the distinction needs to be made between raising awareness and equality issues and training for specific groups.

Treating everyone the same is not equality. Equality is recognising difference, in-equality and understanding that people have different 'starting' points and barriers.

I also agree with Ian, in that I think your comment about 'racist' is somewhat misplaced!

Once again I would like to thank Ian for his fantastic teaching and for aiding our learning by being so supportive and sharing his experiences and expertise.

If there was ever a suggstion that this course and other 'specific' course were ever to be stopped then I would most certainly raise this with the union and our equalities unit.

I think its a shame that you're not a member of the union because they offer a superb service and give lots of support to their members as well as raising awareness of issues, challenging discrimination, poverty and inequalities world-wide.

I think you'd find it a eye-opener, I certainly did!


Ian Manborde said...

Hi Bal,

Many thanks for your incisive, detailed commentary on the course and on the need for BME-specific training in particular.

I too find the notion that the approach is 'racist' untenable as we don't seek through this work to deny another body of people their rights.

As you suggest equality in societies like the UK is a complex issue requiring multi-faceted approaches in dealing with the range of demands.

I am really pleased that you enjoyed the course and hope you are able to build UNITE's organisation in Relate.

My very best wishes


Val said...

This fella Chicken seems to have the right sort of name

Why don't you let people know who you are so we can have a proper discussion with you?

Come from under your stone Mr. Chicken.

Val K

Alan said...


Not sure about this one.

Surely to god its time we came together.