Tens of thousands want GCSE to include texts on racism

The death of George Floyd in the US inspires a petition for books about racism in Britain to be on GCSE English syllabus

George Floyd protests: Could books about racism be included in the English GCSE?

Tens of thousands of people have signed a petition calling for two books about racism in modern Britain to be added on to the GCSE reading list.

Recent events in the US, where a white former police officer has been charged with the murder of black man George Floyd, inspired Molly Crossley, from Taunton, to start the petition, which has received more than 26,000 signatures since being set up yesterday.

She says current GCSE authors “do very little to reflect our current society” and proposes two books to be added to the GCSE list: The Good Immigrant, a collection of essays edited by Nikesh Shukla, and Why I’m No longer Talking to White People About Race by journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge.

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In a statement on the Change.org website, she says: “With recent events in America (the alleged murder of George Floyd by a police officer), we need to look closer to home on how we can learn from these acts of horror, and how we can lead by example to be the change we want to see, so we can prevent these events from happening again.

Could books about racism be added to the GCSE reading list?

“Education is where it starts. Although you can have debates and go on marches in the hope of battling closed minds, school is where minds are opened and where we should grasp the opportunity to teach students about diversity and our current society, including the injustices.”

Essays in The Good Immigrant are written by different BAME (black and minority ethnic) personalities including an actor, journalist and musician who voice their experiences of racism.

Reni Eddo-Lodge’s book spells out her frustration with the way discussions of race and racism in Britain are being led by people who aren't affected by it.

Ms Crossley states: “These two books wouldn’t only contribute diversity to the current GCSE reading lists, they would also highlight our current society’s diversity, inequalities and opportunities for change.

"Highlighting this to young adults will hopefully ignite a desire to be part of the change and also stamp out ignorance towards diversity.

“The current English GCSE reading list consists of authors ranging from 19th-century writers such as Charles Dickens, George Eliot and Charlotte Bronte. Shakespeare dominates a large portion of reading lists, and modern prose shows a little more diversity with Meera Syal and Maya Angelou amongst George Orwell and John Steinbeck.

"Although these lists of literature span a wide range of content, they do very little to reflect our current society.

Ms Crossley says she will forward the petition to the Department for Education, the UK Parliament and the Global Partnership for Education.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Black history is an important topic which all schools have the freedom to teach from primary school age onwards, as part of the history curriculum.

“Schools have flexibility over how they teach this subject and which resources to use from a range of organisations and sources, including the Black Curriculum if they choose.”

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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