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Separate But Equal, Part 1

Instituting a new series to examine disturbing cases of deliberate self-segregation of “marginalised” communities carried out in the name of social justice

Forget “the only gay in the village” – Manchester City Council is putting forward plans for a majority-LGBT housing community for people aged over 50. In this socially engineered ghetto, eligibility to live would depend not on one’s ability to afford the rent but one’s ability to satisfy the diversity checklist of a local government busybody.

Once again, the best intentions of the social justice community result in the most extreme and counterproductive of solutions.

From the Guardian’s report:

Manchester city council has announced plans to create the UK’s first retirement community aimed at lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

According to the local authority, the city is home to the country’s largest number of LGBT people outside of London and is due to see a rapid growth in the number of LGBT residents over 65 in the next two decades. More than 7,000 over-50s living in Manchester identify as LGBT.

A recent report by the Manchester-based LGBT Foundation, commissioned by the council, revealed that older LGBT people experience higher levels of loneliness and isolation.

Many were fearful of discrimination in existing accommodation and there was a desire for affordable LGBT-specific housing where people could be open about their identity in later life.

The extra care scheme – a targeted development for older people – will house a minimum of 51% LGBT residents, but heterosexual people will also be welcome to apply to live in the accommodation.

The housing will have specially trained staff based on site and pets will be welcome. As well as the LGBT Foundation, the project is being supported by Stonewall Housing and the Homes and Communities Agency.

As one sceptical interviewee in the BBC report wisely asks:

The issue we are going to come up against along the way is that we’ve fought for equality. Do we need a separate space?

Quite.

Of course, the gimlet-eyed do-gooder at Manchester City Council responds, patronisingly:

It’s not necessarily about ghettoising particular communities. It’s offering people who want it that opportunity to spend their time with people who they know will understand them.

Ah well, that’s fine then. If people want to withdraw from wider society into strongholds (weakholds?) where fragility is pandered to rather than resilience developed, of course it is the sacred and noble duty of local government to assist them in their folly at every turn. Who are the guardians of the public purse to question the latest social justice orthodoxy?

Some may say that this is a local decision for local communities, and ask what standing a writer from London possibly has to weigh in on a decision made by Manchester City Council? And I would be amendable to that argument if it were actually the people of Manchester on the hook for this experiment in social divisiveness. But of course they are not.

In overcentralised Britain, the dominant single source of local authority funds – 40% in the case of Manchester – are disbursed by central government after having been raised through general national taxation. And besides the obvious social folly inherent in creating fragile, unresilient and homogenous minority communities in the name of social justice, the fact that all British taxpayers are funding this folly makes it directly my concern, and that of everyone else.

If a private developer wants to create an ethnically, gender or sexuality-based homogeneous environment for private tenants or homebuyers then that is a separate discussion fraught with its own parallel legal questions about discrimination and equality. But in the case of a public initiative and social housing, the government has absolutely no business discriminating along these lines, setting quotas or engaging in any other form of naked social engineering.

We should not be unsympathetic to some of the stories of older LGBT people featured in the BBC News report – being ostracised by friends and family of one’s own generation after coming out must be incredibly hard, particularly in older age. But it should be for institutions of civil society to step in to address these real social problems, and we must get out of the habit of immediately pivoting to local and national government for a solution to each and every problem – especially where the mitigation involves the use of general taxpayer funds.

Heavy-handed governmental interventions such as this only serve to crowd out independent solutions from civil society, and reinforce the expectation that government must play an active, watchful part in nearly every area of our lives. And no matter how well-intentioned individual schemes may be, British taxpayers should not be left on the hook for implementing a social justice revolution in Manchester or anywhere else.

 

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Segregation Comes To Glastonbury, In The Name Of Social Justice

Womyns Music Festival 2

As if going to Glastonbury were not already insufferable enough, now those who do will implicitly be condoning segregation – in the year 2016.

Vice reports:

When you’re a woman, going to a festival brings a new set of problems, whether it’s batting off the advances of some limp chirpser in the healing field, or, worse, feeling unsafe in a space that has a serious and unaddressed problem of sexual assault. While some festivals have been attempting to tackle the issue with safety awareness campaigns, sometimes all you want to do is drink and dance in a space where those problems are less likely to occur.

This year at Glastonbury, for the first time, there will be a venue for women only, which will be tucked away in the Shangri-La zone of the festival. The venue itself is ran by an organisation called The Sisterhood, who describe themselves as an “intersectional, queer, trans and disability-inclusive space open to all people who identify as women”. All staff working in the venue will also be those who identify as women, whether they are the acts who are performing, bar staff or security guards.

“The producers of The Sisterhood believe that women only spaces are necessary in a world that is still run by and designed to benefit mainly men,” the festival organisers explained. “Oppression against women continues in various manifestations around the world today, in different cultural contexts.”

“In the UK, the gender pay gap in the workplace, cuts to domestic violence services and sex worker rights are current talking points that highlight this issue. Sisterhood seeks to provide a secret space for women to connect, network, share their stories, have fun and learn the best way to support each other in our global struggle to end oppression against women and all marginalised people, whilst showcasing the best and boldest female talent in the UK and beyond.”

If you think this defence of sexual segregation at Britain’s most popular music festival sounds more like a spiteful two-fingers up at men in general rather a defensive act in response to a specific threat, you would be quite right – The Sisterhood spent more time ranting about the “oppression” of women around the world than fretting about any specific perils faced by women at Glastonbury.

Digital Music News also questions the rationale:

The group dubbed this ‘the 1st ever women only venue’ on Twitter, though the rationale for the space seems less celebratory and pro-women, and frankly, more anti-male.

Still, ISIS would be thrilled with this segregationist nod to their hardline Islamist ideology. Or they would, if only music festivals weren’t themselves haram.

 

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Tales From The Safe Space, Part 20 – Segregated Accommodation For Ohio University LGBT Students

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Students seeking to cocoon themselves in safe spaces and segregated accommodation are being selfish – society can only grow in understanding and acceptance when people of different backgrounds and ideas are thrown together and forced to interact with one another

More depressing news of the return of segregation on American university campuses.

Latest to capitulate to the cult of Identity Politics is Ohio University, which is now introducing an LGBT-only housing community (or “living community”) for self-identifying gay, lesbian and transgender students, as well as their relatives and “allies”.

From the Athens Messenger:

Next year, Ohio University freshmen and sophomores who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans will have the option to reside in a new LGBT living community on the Athens campus. This new living community will be in addition to gender-neutral housing already offered by the university.

According to Delfin Bautista, director of the OU LGBT Center, next year will mark the fourth year for gender-neutral housing options for students. Bautista said the gender neutral housing was made available for not only transsexual students who wanted a safe space, but also siblings, other forms of relatives or even co-ed best friends.

In addition to the gender-neutral housing, Bautista said the university is rolling out a new living community catered to those who identify as LGBT. The living community will be located in Smith House on the South Green, which also is the location for the gender-neutral dorm options.

Bautista said the resident assistant overseeing the new living community will be “developing intentional experiences” for the LGBT members. Those who live in the community will have the opportunity to participate in LGBT-centered programming and will be connected to LGBT resources.

In other words, as soon as they set foot on campus at Ohio University, freshmen students will have the option to immediately find other people who look and think the same way as them, and then live and socialise exclusively with those like-minded people to the exclusion of all others.

This is utterly antithetical to what should be any university’s mission – to turn out resilient, well-rounded and intellectually capable students who are able to flourish in the world, overcoming adversity and achieving success on their own merits. This gender-neutral housing may do many things, but one thing it will absolutely not do is help those who choose to live in it to become more resilient people.

Rather, students living in Ohio University’s segregated LGBT accommodation will be overseen by an RA (resident assistant) who develops “intentional experiences” for the community. In other words, their time at college will be curated for them in such a way that makes this one aspect of their personhood – their sexuality or gender – seem like the overriding and defining feature of their lives. How could it not? Because of this one facet of their identity, these students will be told that they are so different from the wider university community (or so at risk from a malevolent, unsafe outside world) that they need to study, socialise and dwell in seclusion from other students.

But there is another side to this.

How do those from minority groups who choose to hide themselves away in micro-communities of similar people ever hope to bring about a more tolerant and understanding society, when at every turn they seek to shun debate, shut down free speech and even voluntarily segregate themselves away from the wider community?

Nearly all of the positive steps forward our societies have taken to overcome racism, xenophobia and every manner of intolerance were made possible by engagement – by people from minority groups standing up and being an unapologetic, highly visible presence in their communities. That’s why antipathy to immigration is often highest in areas with the lowest number of immigrants, for example. As soon as the immigrants appear in larger numbers (provided they come in good faith and attempt to assimilate) the fears of the original community tend to subside.

Do those early, conspicuous arrivals sometimes face hostility, and even violence? Regrettably, yes. But how much longer would the process of desegregation in America (for example) taken if black students in the 1960s had insisted on living in segregated accommodation?

Ohio University LGBT Center

Civil rights trailblazers like Vivian Malone Jones, one of the first black students to enrol at the University of Alabama back in 1963, faced unprecedented hostility from the governor of the state on downwards – yet Jones did not demand a safe space, despite her physical safety at times being under very real threat.

By contrast, today’s student activists seek refuge in designated Safe Spaces despite never having to experience anything like the genuine lack of safety faced by Jones, and with the benefit of overwhelmingly supportive university administrations falling over themselves to adopt every diversity policy asked of them. With ninety percent of the battle for equality already won, suddenly the social justice warriors are growing thin skins.

Worse still, those students today who want to tell the whole world about their pain and have endless discussions about their own emotions are shamefully neglecting their duty to the next generation of LGBT, queer and ethnic minority students. They are prioritising their own tremulous fear of encountering bigotry or disagreement over the duty which they should feel toward those who will follow in their footsteps.

If minority students cloister themselves away in segregated accommodation and socialise in ethnic-based safe spaces and societies, they fail to help the wider community grow in acceptance. Sure, they may counter that racist and bigoted students should simply mend their ways and change their retrograde opinions without needing to be shown that black, Hispanic, gay, lesbian or trans students are just like them. But human nature is often such that acceptance only comes when something is familiar.

Whether this is fair or not, at some point these students will leave university and enter the real world. Surely, then, living as part of the general community and slogging through any difficult or painful situations which may arise as a result is good for the minority students as well as for the wider community.

But sadly, the social justice warriors of Generation Me Me Me tend not to see things that way. The millennial generation – my generation – is far more interested in talking about what the world owes us (jobs, houses, material possessions) rather than what we owe our communities and our country. Many would rather talk endlessly about their pain and the wrongs which have been inflicted on them than comport themselves with dignity (like previous generations of civil rights heroes) and, through their stoic presence on campus, forge a smoother path for those who come after them.

Many of these student activists would be hugely offended by this accusation – they do not realise that their sit-ins and hunger strikes are inherently selfish acts designed to rectify perceived wrongs against themselves (at best) or to simply signal their own virtue (at worst). Their activism is inwardly focused either on winning perks and concessions for themselves, or seeking to punish those who have caused them offence – in other words, it is a plain old fashioned power play by student activists against the university administrators (who, ironically, were themselves once activist students fighting their own university hierarchies).

The trouble with Safe Space theory – and with Ohio University’s new segregated campus accommodation for LGBT students – is that it focused entirely on the now, with no thought to the future. There is no recognition of the fact that coddling students today both fails to prepare them for life after graduation, and also hinders society’s progress in becoming more accepting of different people. As our hedonistic, therapeutic culture dictates, it is all about feeling better in the here and now, with no thought given to tomorrow.

This is what happens when toxic Identity Politics culture meets a uniquely self-entitled generation concerned with their own personal self-realisation above all else. You can fully expect to see lots more segregated university accommodation springing up in America, with Britain following along in a couple of years.

Not because it will do anything to bring about a more just or equal society – it won’t – but because it makes people feel good in the here and now.

 

Postscript: It is worth pointing out that Ohio University actively encourages transgender students to live in this segregated accommodation.

 

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Tales From The Safe Space, Part 2 – Segregation Returns At UC Berkeley

Vivian Malone - James Hood - University of Alabama - George Wallace - Racial Segregation - Integration - Racism

Minority students in America are less discriminated against and victimised today than at any time in history. And yet, in 2016, some are clamouring for the reintroduction of racial segregation, for their own “protection”

The fight for social justice claims another Pyrrhic victory in California this year, as racial segregation comes roaring back to university student accommodation.

The Berkeley Student Cooperative, a student housing organisation primarily serving students at the University of California Berkeley, is proudly rolling out racially segregated accommodation for “people of colour” who, unlike their predecessors fifty years ago, experience untold oppression, violence and discrimination in their daily lives, and thus desperately need a “safe space” to huddle together in respite.

The Daily Californian reports, in a fawningly approving article entitled “Reclaiming a safe space: Person of Color co-op to open this fall”:

In May 2014, the BSC Board of Directors established the Demographic Inclusion Task Force in order to propose ways that the BSC could better meet the needs of low-income students and students of color. The DITF conducted another membership census in the 2014-2015 school year that revealed socio-demographic issues like those found in the 2012 census. The DITF also led a series of focus groups last October, with the goal of identifying the root causes of the socio-demographic barriers.

[..] According to Skye Ontiveros, DITF chair, some of the focus groups revealed that certain students of color did not feel welcome in the undergraduate houses. In the focus group, some students of color reported that they felt like they could not cook traditional dishes in the kitchen because it did not stock the food that they needed or felt that their cultures’ music was not accepted in the common room. She explained that these situations create a hostile environment for students of color by stifling their right to cultural expression.

The DITF hopes that the Person of Color theme house will foster a safe space where students of color feel comfortable expressing themselves and their cultures, according to Ontiveros. White students and higher-income students can legally live in the Person of Color theme house, but Ontiveros hopes that they will choose to live in a different house and reserve this space for people of color.

“It’s meant for people of color,” Ontiveros said. “It’s not meant for folks who … want to be an ally or … want to learn about different cultures.”

And naturally, in order to live in this Racially Segregated For Everyone’s Mental Safety accommodation, residents must partake in mandatory “inclusivity” training, so as to receive top-up indoctrination in the same kind of reactionary social justice extremism which led to the segregation in the first place:

The Person of Color theme house will be founded on three pillars: cross-cultural exchange, academic and professional support, and anti-oppression and allyship. In order to achieve these goals, members will need to dedicate five hours to the community per semester by holding or attending workshops dedicated to these pillars. Possible workshops include traditional cooking or music lessons and inclusivity training.

It is astonishing to read the flimsy grounds on which racial segregation is now being reintroduced in Berkeley. The Daily Californian cites no evidence of racially motivated attacks or even verbal altercations – not that this would make racial re-segregation any more acceptable. No, the entire justification for the dramatic step of reintroducing segregation seems to be based on the “feeling” of a small number of students in a focus group that their food or music was somehow unwelcome in racially integrated student accommodation.

This is ludicrous. The entire point of the Berkeley Student Cooperative is to provide low-cost accommodation for students who would struggle to afford market-rate campus accommodation. If each building was to stock ingredients catering to every culture in the world, what do the safe space dwellers think would happen to their rent costs? And since when did not having your favourite ethnic food provided by default constitute such an intolerably “hostile” environment that self-segregation is the only answer?

If this perplexing story tells us anything, in fact it shows us how far the civil rights and tolerance movements have come, that today’s pampered student activists are reduced to throwing their toys out of the pram because their communal kitchens do not come replete with every conceivable cooking ingredient from around the world (as though going to the store and buying things independently was not an option).

Or to invert Chris Rock’s excellent joke at the recent Oscars ceremony, now that minority students (thankfully) no longer live in daily fear of finding their grandmother swinging from a tree, they are free to worry not only about who is nominated for Best Documentary Foreign Short, but also about whether they can ever possibly rebuild their lives after having once received a quizzical look for playing their favourite Balinese Gamelan music CD in the common room.

One would think that a country with such a visceral recent history of racial segregation and deeply engrained hostility – which often took the form of lynchings and systematic disenfranchisement rather than the mere failure of a student housing cooperative to stock certain ethnic foods – would do everything possible to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past and bringing back customs which were properly buried with Jim Crow. But then one would also think that a country whose civil rights movement succeeded only thanks to the exercise of free speech would be rather less cavalier about restricting speech today.

Sadly, these mistakes now seem doomed to be repeated as UC Berkeley leads the way in playing host to a racially segregated student population.

More tales from the Safe Space here.

 

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Racism, Alive And Well In Georgia

I was astounded to see this particular video report from the excellent left-leaning online news show, The Young Turks.

In this clip, they are talking about a high school in Wilcox County, GA, which maintains “separate but equal” proms for their students. In the year 2013. And in fact, as is always the case, there is nothing “separate and equal” about the two proms – there is a white prom and an “integrated” prom. So if you are blessed to be a white student in Wilcox County, you are able to attend two parties, but if you made the error of being born black or mixed-race, then you have only one option.

And yes, the local police enforce the policy and eject any non-white student who attempts to enter the whites-only prom.

Huffington Post reports the same. Watch and be amazed.

 

Local supporters of this Jim Crow-era policy seem to be defending it on the grounds that the proms (despite their names and obvious affiliations to the high school in question) are actually hosted away from school property and paid for by donations from parents and local organisations, and are therefore exempt from any applicable desegregation laws. I’m pretty sure that the same excuse was used when school districts, public swimming pools and other facilities attempted to find legal ways to wriggle around that awkward “all men are created equal” nonsense in the declaration of independence.

I can’t even begin to articulate how screwed up this is. Georgia joins the list today.