To think positive promotion of BME imagery in local authorities is misplaced

(111 Posts)
wantanewname Mon 28-Jan-13 12:24:56

Local authorities seem to have a policy whereby photos promoting e.g. a school, museum etc have to if possible have at least one BME (black and ethnic minority) person in the photo.

Now, I can totally understand this if for example the local authority is e.g. trying to increase literacy levels in children and finds that literacy levels amongst some BME groups is lower than amongst e.g white groups and therefore uses a photo of a black child in a library. This I can understand. What I find hard to understand is the idea that this applies across the board. For example, does it do any good when a local authority is photographing a school in a very white area to use the few black pupils in every photo? I think in that instance it is patronising to the public - implying that their knowledge of the school/area is wrong and creates a warped view that there isn't a lack of diversity that needs to be addressed in certain areas when there actually is.

Or is there something I'm missing? I notice this in local authority literature all the time and think that they are actually creating more problems with their attempts at diversity? It annoys me because it doesn't seem well thought out...just wondered what other people think about this?

wantanewname Mon 28-Jan-13 12:30:10

or do other people think this is a good idea?

MolehillAlchemy Mon 28-Jan-13 14:45:31

Get yourself booked on the first flight to Mars. You can start a colony of identical people and not have to be troubled by images of differing ethnicity in mostly white areas!

Sheesh.

ComingtoKent Mon 28-Jan-13 19:26:51

The idea is that the images in local authority publications reflect the ethnic diversity of the population the authority serves.

If a council is photographing an actual identifiable school, rather than showing a generic school image, then I think you can assume that school actually has some BME kids if they appear in the pictures, I don't believe they're photoshopping extra kids in to make a point.

Is there no value in showing diversity even in 'very white areas'? Are all areas where the images might be seen equally 'white'?

Theresalwaysone Mon 28-Jan-13 19:28:54

Erm well I'd assume (quite obviously) they do it with a view of accommodating the ethnic minorities in the area, not the most visibly seen residents!

I live in South London and there are places I do not frequent because of cliquey mums and their nosy (bored) stares! Ffs, there are even state schools that have a certain identity and amongst many minorities it is accepted that we wont send our child into these schools to be the 'token black' or the play date recluse!

For us there are places we do and don't go for such reasons and it's a real shame for our children since a lot of the educational and cultural activities are marketed towards dare I say it 'white' middle class parents. I often leave feeling we have been part of the entertainment with the bemused 'are we in the right place' looks! Pathetic in 2013 but it happens and it's no big secret. I cant see how/why there are any places that should be accommodating to a particular race and not others in this day and age?

Would you find it odd if a school brochure in 'Southall' for instance had no Caucasian children in it?

I'm inclined to smh at "Now, I can totally understand this if for example the local authority is e.g. trying to increase literacy levels in children and finds that literacy levels amongst some BME groups is lower than amongst e.g white groups" but I'll leave that for another time...

wantanewname Mon 28-Jan-13 20:56:50

eh? This was meant to be a genuine question, not meant in a racist way! I actually find it quite extraordinary that my question should be interpreted like that. I find the reply 'Get yourself booked on the first flight to Mars. You can start a colony of identical people and not have to be troubled by images of differing ethnicity in mostly white areas!' really offensive.

I belong to an ethnic minority group myself and was expressing the view (I'll try to explain it again...) that I and I assumed most intelligent people (certainly other members of my family hold) would hold that e.g. schools in areas of 95% white people would be unlikely to have a very ethnically diverse mix and to represent it like that is assuming that their readership is fairly stupid. Not only that but it is brushing over the actual problem (the lack of diversity) and pretending it doesn't exist.

I'm not sure either what 'I'm inclined to smh at "Now, I can totally understand this if for example the local authority is e.g. trying to increase literacy levels in children and finds that literacy levels amongst some BME groups is lower than amongst e.g white groups" but I'll leave that for another time...' This is actually a positive thing a local authority might do. Like it or not, certain ethnic groups are achieving much higher than others (black, Caribbean boys are achieving the lowest at the moment, Chinese girls the highest) and this is something local authorities are trying to resolve.

Please don't assume a person is racist or any other thing from simply skimming their post - there is a genuine question here.

Softlysoftly Mon 28-Jan-13 21:01:58

I actually don't think yabu before we moved from our home village DH was the only Asian face. When the village hall for some funding for a mural they asked him to put his name down so they got extra funding but had to draw 1 little Asian boy in. Always cracked us up how pc ut was.

I think that it is a little patronising especially as it always feels that the colleague, school child whatever is just chosen to be the token ethnic face iyswim.

stargirl1701 Mon 28-Jan-13 21:02:53

YABU.

GrendelsMum Mon 28-Jan-13 21:03:32

I think opinons vary, and maybe it's very dependent on exactly what you're showing and why.

A friend who belongs to an ethnic minority group strongly disliked having what he thought of as 'token' BME people shown in pictures, and particularly disliked being included in photos because of this. I certainly took his point of view, and I suspect it probably is pretty grim if you feel you're being called in as 'token BME person', especially if you don't feel the rhetoric of diversity is being lived up to by the organisation.

However, I recently put out some publicity leaflets which showed young Muslim women scientists, just because I happened to have taken some photos of the women myself and they came out well. A couple of people went to the trouble to thank me for having chosen that as the image, so I suppose there are some situations where people actively want the diversity of the role to be portrayed.

Cornycremegg Mon 28-Jan-13 21:06:18

Working class white males are the group who have the lowest literacy attainment.

GoldenGreen Mon 28-Jan-13 21:07:32

I think I see what you are saying. Years ago my sister was part of a school choir that was probably 95% white children. They had a photo taken as part of a concert they were promoting and it so happened that one of the very few black children was pictured right at the front. A family friend saw it and was very scathing, saying it was obvious they had put that child at the front on purpose to look like they were more multicultural than they really are. So yes, I think there are some people who do notice very obvious attempts at inclusion and will be annoyed/suspicious or whatever.

However....in answer to your question about whether it creates more problems or brushes over the real problems of lack of diversity - I have no idea, but I know myself I would rather see a range of people welcomed and included everywhere I go and I think that including a range of people in promotional literature is just shorthand for saying "all are welcome". I am fully willing to accept I'm frightfully naive or whatever; that's just how I see it.

gordyslovesheep Mon 28-Jan-13 21:10:07

YABU BEM people use council services and pay council tax - ergo they are part of the community the council serve and thus included in the publicity - obviously

AmberLeaf Mon 28-Jan-13 21:10:23

I'm inclined to smh at "Now, I can totally understand this if for example the local authority is e.g. trying to increase literacy levels in children and finds that literacy levels amongst some BME groups is lower than amongst e.g white groups" but I'll leave that for another time

Yeah me too!

I belong to an ethnic minority group myself
This is the new 'some of my best friends are black' isnt it?

YABU

edam Mon 28-Jan-13 21:11:26

Do you have two threads running on this? Why?

Just in case you completely forgot about the other one, here's what I said:

I don't understand why this bothers you, exactly? But as a magazine editor, I can tell you it is important to represent diversity. Being invisible isn't good - think of all the complaints from middle-aged or older women. Unfortunately with stock imagery, models and so on, there is far less opportunity to use images of Black and Asian people. I have a problem with real-life in my mag as well, in that we are part of an organisation so if we go to an event with members, we often end up with all-white pictures. Things are gradually improving, though, years ago there was an underlying belief that a Black or Asian cover model would hit sales (becuase non-celeb covers are supposed to reflect the reader and the majority population is white). I think that's less of a worry these days.

Of course you don't want to be tokenistic but I am pleased when I have an opportunity to use a picture of an Asian or Black person, because it bothers me that it is not routinely available and we should be reflecting society, not one slice of it. Same goes for disability - not that all disability is visible anyway, but it'd be nice to see more representation.

SolomanDaisy Mon 28-Jan-13 21:17:50

I used to work for a local authority that started using cheap bank photos to save money. American bank photos. So lots of very white teeth, clearly American clothes, California beach backgrounds. Now that was unrepresentative.

wantanewname Mon 28-Jan-13 21:20:04

Working class white males are not the group who have the lowest literacy attainment. They are one of the lowest literacy attaining groups at the moment, black, Caribbean boys are still the lowest...but that is besides the point.

I am glad the point I am making is being listened to and shame that I had to mention that I belong to a minority group to stop being accused of being racist.

I do take the point of 'all being welcome' and think this is the intention. I think it is genuinely well meaning but missing the point slightly. Surely to make the point that diversity needs addressing and a way to bridge the achievement gap more effectively would be to acknowledge that in areas of wealth (Chelsea, etc) there are very few BME students in the schools rather than pretend that this is not the case.

Recently a mixed race man - someone I know - was stopped in Chelsea, innocently walking down the street and questioned simply because a crime had recently been committed in that area and it couldn't possibly have been a white person - I know this happens all the time. It's these sort of issues that need to be addressed. I just can't imagine how pretending Chelsea schools are full of mixed race/BME students is going to help this.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 21:22:28

I understand where you are coming from, but you were bound to be flamed because of the weird competition MN seems to have going on about who can be the most politically correct.

Tokenism does exist, there is no point in trying to pretend it doesn't, but I don't think it's a bad thing. I don't think it's trying to insult anyone's intelligence, it's just trying to be as inclusive as it can be and show that all are welcome.

wantanewname Mon 28-Jan-13 21:24:47

and yes I do have two threads on this because I posted it chat and then realised it would be better here. I get your point about being invisible not being good but that is about models etc in magazines, my point is about real life - not trying to sell clothes etc.

I think it is tokenistic and offensive to be honest. Of course BME groups use services, I do! But I would prefer realism be shown because lack of it certainly isn't working.

wantanewname Mon 28-Jan-13 21:26:51

and if it doesn't sound politically correct, then you're not reading my post correctly.

CloudsAndTrees Mon 28-Jan-13 21:30:17

If that was aimed at me, then I think you are taking my post wrongly. I don't think you did sound politically incorrect, but there are some subjects that you just can't bring up on MN without getting bizarre responses, as some of these replies have proved. MN is weird like that.

44SoStartingOver Mon 28-Jan-13 21:36:05

Is it really tokenism? Or idealism? Or trying to put forward the image of what an organisation strives to be?

I'm not certain it is intended to be somehow misleading, perhaps more welcoming?

Hard for me to say as an all white group looks stranger to me tbh.

wantanewname Mon 28-Jan-13 21:36:25

CloudsAndTrees, I know. I find it particularly insulting that I deliberately didn't say I was from a minority group because that shouldn't change anything but had to mention that to prevent being accused of racism!

marriedinwhite Mon 28-Jan-13 21:36:33

This will go badly.

I see where you are coming from to an extent OP. When I had my first baby in London 18 years ago I was shocked that the book the midwives gave me depicted a working class couple, a mixed race couple, a lesbian couple, an unmarried couple but it didn't seem to include a married, middle class couple who had planned their baby and desperately wanted it.

Equally the book I got after the baby was born seemed to be written for women who were not very well educated an were more interested in painting their toenails. At the time I was quite shocked that nothing seemed to be aimed at me. With 18 years more of life experience and a local job, in my local community I can see where it was coming from. The problem I think is that the midwives and health visitors had been indoctrinated with political correctness and when the time came they could not empathise or engage with me. I hope they did better with the people the books were written for.

I think the system would have been better if there had been a bit more honesty, ie, that it wasn't really geared for the needs of white, middle class, educated people - in London at least - that it was limited and if we didn't have a family support network - that it advised us to source the emotional help we might need before the baby came. Dons flak jacket.

wantanewname Mon 28-Jan-13 21:39:11

44SoStartingOver - but an all white group in some areas is what it is, just as in some areas there would be very few white faces. I think it is better to let people draw their own conclusions from seeing those groups from both the realism perspective and more importantly from helping to address the problems that exist (lower achievement in poorer, more diverse areas).

44SoStartingOver Mon 28-Jan-13 21:39:12

It is also worth remembering that most photos like this are very staged.

School photography makes me laugh as we try to represent ,girls, boys, different ethnicities, some kids with braces, some with acne (but not too much) and at least a few who can show up at the right place, right time with a school shirt that is actually white!

44SoStartingOver Mon 28-Jan-13 21:39:57

Surely nowhere has an all white population?

ChoudeBruxelles Mon 28-Jan-13 21:43:05

I am the comms manager at an authority in a very diverse city. We simply try to be representative across a range of materials (not just BME but old and young people, male and female, able bodied and disabled ....). It looks ridiculous trying to depict every possibility on everything.

thehumanstain Mon 28-Jan-13 21:44:48

State schools in Kensington & Chelsea are very diverse - probably to an inflated degree, bearing in mind most of the wealthy (often white) residents of the borough choose independent schools.

mercibucket Mon 28-Jan-13 21:47:43

at least they don't actually photoshop the pictures

mercibucket Mon 28-Jan-13 21:50:27

http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2009/09/02/doctoring-diversity-race-and-photoshop/

unlike these people

wantanewname Mon 28-Jan-13 21:51:21

The example of Chelsea was just one. There are areas where it is predominately white and areas where it is much more diverse, the diverse areas tend to be poorer. There is a huge attainment gap and the gap exists for a multitude of reasons including 'invisible' racism.

Yes, local authorities try to represent all groups where possible and yes I can understand that this is a well meaning attempt to be inclusive and stop making people feel excluded and in many cases (my library one) there is an outcome that may actually help. However, in others - it would be better to draw attention to the lack of diversity if you want to narrow the attainment gap.

thehumanstain Mon 28-Jan-13 21:51:24

My post was aimed at wantanewname, by the way, not the thread in general.

MrsDeVere Mon 28-Jan-13 21:52:55

I have had five children. My first born in 1992 and my youngest in 2010.

My children are mixed race.

When my eldest were small it was unusual to see children like them represented in books or in films and cartoons in the mainstream. We had to turn to the Letterbox Library or similar to find niche books for my far from niche children.

Today it is taken for granted that we will see photos of black children and those from other backgrounds in books and on telly and dolls and real life role models.

I remember thinking 'one day, a child that looks like one of mine will be on the side of a pampers packet'. It seemed a far off dream. But here we are, my DCs are finally 'normal' and I don't have to order their books and toys from a specialist supplier.

Do I think that is a bad thing?

No.

Pendeen Mon 28-Jan-13 21:53:39

I agree with you OP, it seems like a deliberate policy to claim they "reflect the diversity" even if there is absolutely no diversity at all.

For example this picture just seems, well, odd.

I think the council have some really strange ideas about the population here in Cornwall.

wantanewname Mon 28-Jan-13 21:56:31

mercibucket - that is my point exactly and the line; 'This suggests, fourth, that there was a real lack of a substantive dialog about and investment in race and diversity on the campus.' is exactly the point I am trying to make. The lack of dialogue about the real problem and how this misrepresentation masks and confuses the real issue (however well intentioned).

I am still smarting because despite trying to explain myself as articulately as possible I was accused of racism by some posters.

blueemerald Mon 28-Jan-13 21:58:11

Just to clarify Irish Traveller and Romany Gypsy children have the lowest literacy attainment by a country mile and are left out of most articles about the issue. In 2007 15.6% got got 5 good GCSEs, 8.4% got 5 A*-C including maths and English. They are also more likely than any ethnic group to be excluded from school.

Source

gordyslovesheep Mon 28-Jan-13 21:58:22

why is a picture of 4 boys reading 'Odd' - I am totally lost - or do black kids not read? do boys not read? do black and white boys not play together?

I am with Mrs DV - I see nothing 'odd' with BEM people being on council leaflets etc

Theresalwaysone Mon 28-Jan-13 21:58:50

Its as simple as gordyslovesheep put it 'YABU BEM people use council services and pay council tax - ergo they are part of the community the council serve and thus included in the publicity - obviously'.

'Like it or not, certain ethnic groups are achieving much higher than others (black, Caribbean boys are achieving the lowest at the moment'....... OK now I actually understand where you are going with your question, BUT I am uncomfortable with you linking black male school success rates to an issue as simple as literacy! This is another topic altogether and one I'm pretty sure should be discussed elsewhere. Its not light and its not comfortable and I think you would get netter insight in a topic specific forum iyswim!

In response to your original question, I cant see how it can be a bad thing! People are going to be racist or they are not, a picture of a BME child is not going to do much to change that.

Even in an environment where there are 95% Caucasians, as a policy maker working in a position where my pay is contributed to by all races, it would be my obligation to communicate effectively to all the communities I serve! Serve being the operative word, essentially these are not positions where you pick the most cost effective target audience. To further this, you can safely assume that in a 95% Caucasian community some BME groups are likely to be disengaged from mainstream activities and where for instance a language barrier may play a part, images are a strong way to draw ones attention to something which can/should involve them!

wantanewname Mon 28-Jan-13 22:03:58

I can take your point MrsDeVere but I do think it is a point worth discussing.

Of course, children (and adults) want to see people like them represented but the other issue - the actual lack of diversity in many areas of achievement needs looking at too. For example there is a local authority where 25% of the children are BME but only 6% of it's headteachers are BME and that would be conveniently brushed under the carpet if in every shot possible of that local authorities' schools the 4 BME headteachers were photographed.

wantanewname Mon 28-Jan-13 22:08:47

Theresalwaysone, I really don't think you are understanding my point and there's only so many ways I can say it! (I am certainly not linking black male school success rates to an issue as simple as literacy! but I really can't go on explaining the same thing over and over again in different ways).

It is a fairly simple matter, local authorities are well meaning and trying to be as inclusive as possible but are airbrushing real issues in doing so.

Theresalwaysone Mon 28-Jan-13 22:11:27

I see where you are going but this is a year long conversation! With all the separate issues you've bought already and all the others that are likely yo come up your going to need about 100 different threads but its an important topic.... I will participate accordingly but this may get messy wine

Theresalwaysone Mon 28-Jan-13 22:13:07

Fully understood just very aware of the forum were discussing this on!

gordyslovesheep Mon 28-Jan-13 22:13:31

I Think I am getting you point ...Local Authorities going out of their way to LOOK inclusive without actually doing anything to either BE inclusive or address real issues of equality?

so Tokenism rather than action?

Theresalwaysone Mon 28-Jan-13 22:19:24

The biggest point of my thread was this..... 'you can safely assume that in a 95% Caucasian community some BME groups are likely to be disengaged from mainstream activities and where for instance a language barrier may play a part, images are a strong way to draw ones attention to something which can/should involve them!', so I can not agree with your original sentiment and I can not really see or care less about it presenting a particular image to the host community BUT I do agree that such token gestures skim over wider racial issues....

Also, I don't think BME image placing so to speak is necessarily negative, ill thought out yes, embarrassing yes, sometimes funny yes! I just honestly cant see the link between that and wider issues. 'Skimming' does happen, we know this but this just seems like poor marketing although I'm basing this on the assumption that the council does not operate as one huge single department iyswim?

Chunderella Mon 28-Jan-13 22:22:03

The OP is not phrased in the way that I'd have put it. However, OP would not be the first person from an ethnic minority to express a cynicism about institutions with very few black and Asian people using them in publicity literature to try and look more diverse than they are.

wantanewname Mon 28-Jan-13 22:22:08

yes, that is the point. Tokenism rather than action. Tokenism achieves nothing, fools a few and annoys others (the ones who see that it is tokenism). Although I do see MrsDeVeres point too that children and adults do need to see their groups represented in order not to feel left out. I know it is a difficult subject but blanket inclusiveness is really a way of doing nothing.

wantanewname Mon 28-Jan-13 22:24:59

Theresalwaysone - I don't think token gestures skim over wider racial issues, I think they actually prevent action being taken to address those wider issues.

gordyslovesheep Mon 28-Jan-13 22:28:53

ahhh then yes I do agree - I also agree with Mrs DV - I think there is a fine line between representation and tokenism

Of course all members of the community should be represented in literature etc but they should also be represented at every other level - including accessibility, funding, housing, education etc

Theresalwaysone Mon 28-Jan-13 22:30:07

Agreed!

marriedinwhite Mon 28-Jan-13 22:33:01

Thing is, if 49% of the people pay the tax, shouldn't 49% of the people deserve to be represented in the Local Authority/Health Authority Literature? Don't the majority have the same rights to inclusion and care as the various minorities. And in 1994 when I had my first baby I think it was more than 49%. Happy to support all minorities but have a sneaking feeling that the rights of the minorities are not going to be protected by the peopel in power continually ignoring the majority and forgetting that they count too.

I appreciate that's a controversial thing to say too but I can't be the only person beginning to feel uneasy that things have gone too far and that dangerous forces will begin to make ground. The indigenous majority population is getting pissed off and the people in power need to be aware of this and need to take a measured course of action to ensure that the minorities retain their freedom and their safety and that the UK remains an inclusive and tolerant society. It doesn't seem to be doing the right things to deliver this at the moment. Most of my family came to the UK as refugees and I am beginning to feel unnerved about what might happen at present if there isn't a bit more appreciation of the rights of the British people and I say British inclusively and unreservedly. There will be a kick back and it may be ugly if it isn't staunched by sense rather than by racism.

Theresalwaysone Mon 28-Jan-13 22:33:48

BUT in an area like mine, which is where I got my example from, I can see the obstacles in trying to engage 'hard to reach' audiences.... Its one of those double edged swords, but in a wider context looking at society as a whole, your argument is definitely more relevant than mine...

Theresalwaysone Mon 28-Jan-13 22:35:52

Uh oh marriedinwhite just confirmed my fears!

AmberLeaf Mon 28-Jan-13 22:38:46

When I had my first baby in London 18 years ago I was shocked that the book the midwives gave me depicted a working class couple, a mixed race couple, a lesbian couple an unmarried couple but it didn't seem to include a married, middle class couple who had planned their baby and desperately wanted it

How could you tell? were they labelled?

I am mixed race, second generation from a few different continents if you go back to my GGP.

There was no BME when i was growing up, this does have an impact on how you feel about "belonging" as a child.

We looked different (me no so much), but i had bigger lips, arse and thighs, thank god for Sophia Loren, she was my idol.

"Love thy Neighbour" was a popular programme, i can remember the series of "Mandingo" being read by my friends parents.

It is important to be "seen" in the society which you live.

Our society is now all visual, it is important that everyone is represented in any pictures used, by statutory services, "society" pays for them, that includes people/children, who are disabled.

At one time, men and EM were underusing/interacting services, that is starting to change, helped by the "universal" advertising of these services.

I hope that the cheaper card shops eventually catch up.

MrsDeVere Mon 28-Jan-13 22:39:53

ah ok.
If you are objecting to pointless, library stock photographs being plastered about the place instead of actual inclusion, I agree.

When I had to sign on about 3 years ago I was a bit hmm that ALL the massive pictures in the jobcentre were of black and asian faces. I mean, WTF were they trying to be?
Massively inclusive or massively racist?

It was a bizarre. Like a horrible PC own goal.

Theresalwaysone Mon 28-Jan-13 22:40:08

marriedinwhite, can you give an example of the people in power 'continually ignoring the majority'? I re-read your post and I do see your point regarding ' The indigenous majority population is getting pissed off and the people in power need to be aware of this and need to take a measured course of action to ensure that the minorities retain their freedom and their safety and that the UK remains an inclusive and tolerant society. It doesn't seem to be doing the right things to deliver this at the moment' but I'm not sure that you can effectively target ignorance and people choosing to ignore 99% of communications to the general public made?

Do you think it would be a good idea NOT to include BME children in all material at the risk of offending people?

gordyslovesheep Mon 28-Jan-13 22:42:13

Oh Marriedinwhite can you provide a link that shows the 49% are exclusively white then!

gordyslovesheep Mon 28-Jan-13 22:43:19

Like a horrible PC own goal lol councils and Gov bodies are good at those grin

Theresalwaysone Mon 28-Jan-13 22:43:30

Birdsgottafly exactly!

MrsDeVere Mon 28-Jan-13 22:43:43

This indigenous person is not getting pissed off at all. I really wish others would stop including me in their agendas.

Blimey, as a white working class women on a low income with low educational attainment I have never felt so needed.

Needed by people trying to make a point about immigrants unfortunately hmm

wantanewname Mon 28-Jan-13 22:45:52

I think this is a very interesting discussion and I am glad that it has moved beyond me being accused of racism. The points I have taken from it are:
That people need to see their groups being represented across literature,
That sometimes people need to see how they could aspire to being in a certain group and feel less excluded when they see their groups included,
But also that local authorities are trying to look inclusive but are ignoring the real issues and possibly contributing to them in doing so.

CaptainNancy Mon 28-Jan-13 22:48:52

1 in 8 people living in the UK today was born abroad- I think it's great that people of many heritages are represented in official literature, going into every home in an authority, even more so if that includes people with visible disabilities because I find that many people wander around in their own little bubbles, even in m y own authority, there are young people who have never been to certain areas of the authority, and I don't mean areas they think are 'ghettoes' I mean the town centre!

By portraying people of all types as usual, they become usual, and how can that really be a bad thing? (cf. mrsDV's pampers example)

wantanewname Mon 28-Jan-13 22:49:08

it's not just library stock photos though, it's photos that are being taken now.

gordyslovesheep Mon 28-Jan-13 22:49:43

what Mrs DeVere said

orlakielylover Mon 28-Jan-13 22:50:08

marriedinwhite I was shocked that the book the midwives gave me depicted a working class couple, a mixed race couple, a lesbian couple, an unmarried couple but it didn't seem to include a married, middle class couple who had planned their baby and desperately wanted it.

So lesbians, working class, unmarried or mixed race couples didn't plan their babies?? or desperately want them??? really???? you could tell all this from a brochure? hmm

wantanewname Mon 28-Jan-13 22:51:15

orlakielylover you are twisting what marriedinwhite said.

marriedinwhite Mon 28-Jan-13 22:51:31

I think the last census did that Gordy for London at least where less than half the population identified as white British.

All I'm saying is that I think it would be helpful if Local Authority/Health Service publications depicted the situation as it is; rather than as exclusively representing minority groups.

And no Amber the pictures didn't have actual labels but they didn't need to have them. The subliminal messages were there. I don't have the book anymore but I recollect the feeling of looking at it and the realisation that it certainly hadn't been written for me.

edam Mon 28-Jan-13 22:53:02

grin MrsDV, it'd be nice if they wanted you for a good reason, though...

I understand people being annoyed by tokenism. But the people selecting the images for local authority publications are not the ones making the decisions about which services should be cut, or which schemes should receive funding. The people choosing the images are just trying to be inclusive - so we don't end up with small children never seeing anyone like them represented, as Birds describes.

gordyslovesheep Mon 28-Jan-13 22:55:25

which means they could be black British or Asian British - and still pay TAX

Theresalwaysone Mon 28-Jan-13 22:57:07

marriedinwhite, so in a society where you STATISTICALLY represent the highest majority, you are concerned about the subliminal messages shown to you versus the children of BME MINORITIES?

badguider Mon 28-Jan-13 22:57:13

In the past I have worked for organisations providing cultural activities that are dominated by white middle class people... but we don't want to just have white middle class people, we want to welcome everybody... so we tried to work with communities of people from BME backgrounds and from areas of lower socio-economic level in order to 1. let them see what the place was like and hopefully enjoy it. 2. hopefully go back to their communities and tell their friends and family that it was a welcoming experience and 3. so we can show them enjoying the activity in our literature and publicity and therefore hope to attract others.

white middle class mothers did not need this extra investment in time and energy because they already felt welcome and were not at risk of feeling excluded from the activity involved.

MrsDeVere Mon 28-Jan-13 22:57:37

My DS1 is 19. So the book you got marriedinwhite must be the same one I got.

I don't remember any subliminal messages about the Gays and the Single Mums.

MrsDeVere Mon 28-Jan-13 22:59:25

sorry to go on.
I am properly intrigued. How on earth would you tell if the couple was working class? Where they holding a ferret?

grin

marriedinwhite Mon 28-Jan-13 23:02:39

No, I'm not worried about the pictures shown to me - I am worried about the interpretation by the parts of the majority who are far less educated than me and who are far more bigoted than me and I worry that the present situation is stoking something rather nasty. I have colleagues who went to Barking and Dagenham in the last General Election. They abandoned their labour members in other parts of London to go and fight the BNP I do not share their mainstream politics but next time I will go and stand shoulder to shoulder with them - I was proud of them and pleased they did it.

orlakielylover Mon 28-Jan-13 23:03:08

no. they were holding a big sign saying WORKING CLASS. obviously.

kim147 Mon 28-Jan-13 23:04:53

There was an interesting article about homophobic bullying in schools. A common comment was that "homosexuals are just not depicted in schools" - the default in stories is a married couple, probably white - although now that's changing to include a few more different families. But the norm is what's talked about and assumed.

It's called the hidden curriculum. Messages you pick up about what's "normal" - scientists, people in history tend to be white male or, if female, seen as victims in history and nothing positive is mentioned about them.

It's not a case of actively promoting such stuff - but not hiding it away so no one is aware of it. Schools etc do play a part in this hidden curriculum and it is good for children to see that their "group" is at least represented somewhere. And is not being seen in a negative way.

edam Mon 28-Jan-13 23:05:11

I wondered that, MrsDV. grin And why marriedinwhite seems to assume that only married, middle class people actually plan their babies. Does she think working class people can't count? Better not mention that theory next time she has to call a plumber out...

marriedinwhite Mon 28-Jan-13 23:06:18

It wasn't so much a subliminal message about the gays and single mums as one that excluded married, middle class white people. I just remember feeling it excluded us and shocked at the pc message. I don't mind that it included lots of different types of families but I didn't feel it was inclusive of mine and we aren't in that much of a minority.

kim147 Mon 28-Jan-13 23:11:06

Your statement about "planning babies" was offensive and made lots of assumptions.

Do working class families, unmarried couples and lesbian couples not plan their families?

Local Authorities get there direction from the Government, the statistics are there, as to who under achievies and why.

Some of the answers are better funding all around, that certainly won't happen now.

We have this government wanting to drop parts of the Human Rights Act and would then probably start to have a go at the Equality Act.

I don't think the inclusion of all possible EM's is part of a bigger plan, tbh.

They are totally seperate.

There was a lot of research around a lack of different faces across the media ate time when Adopter's tended to be white (70's).

All of research hows that it makes a huge difference to how everyone feels about inclusion and if they are a valued member of society when a cross represetation of all possible EM/disabilities are shown.

AmberLeaf Mon 28-Jan-13 23:12:32

And no Amber the pictures didn't have actual labels but they didn't need to have them. The subliminal messages were there. I don't have the book anymore but I recollect the feeling of looking at it and the realisation that it certainly hadn't been written for me

Oh bollocks! you're putting your own spin on it

Hilarious suggestion that a lesbian couple didnt plan their baby! I think that would require way more planning than you and your husbands middle class baby.

AmberLeaf Mon 28-Jan-13 23:14:36

Why would a married middle class couple need to feel included though?

LizzieVereker Mon 28-Jan-13 23:14:47

How kind of you not to mind that the book included different types of families including "the gays"... Hopefully you were made to feel more included by the fact that every other form of media in 1996 did not include "the gays" in their depictions of families.

I expect the working class couple were only identifiable by the fact they were smoking. Or looking at a positive pregnancy test saying "cor blimey missus 'ow did that 'append?"

marriedinwhite Mon 28-Jan-13 23:15:54

Somewhere in that book I remember something saying "and lots of women don't plan their babies and have to come to terms with lots of changes they weren't expecting". Don't recall it being aimed at the blonde woman with one earring in each ear and the man in a suit and collar and tie who both had wedding rings in the picture. That couple, ie, us, was absent - yet all the couples at ante-natal classes at the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital were all like us.

AmberLeaf Mon 28-Jan-13 23:16:45

I remember that book too I think, I was pregnant in London 17 years ago, must have been the same one.

Lilithmoon Mon 28-Jan-13 23:17:10

marriedinwhite how could you tell the models represented an unmarried couple and a working class couple? How do they look different from a middle class couple?
IMO your intention is to derail and inflame this discussion.

whateveritakes Mon 28-Jan-13 23:18:39

marriedinwhite didn't assume that only married, middle class people actually plan their babies.
The leaflet was implying it by not representing a white middle class couple. I can only imagine they leave out the white middle class couple because of the assumptions about them. Therefore any "other" type of family having babies planned or unplanned, black or white, gay or straight will be "different" because the are represented.

"i don't mind that it included lots of different types of families but I didn't feel it was inclusive of mine and we aren't in that much of a minority."

I had to study this subject as part of my BA.

It isn't so much as your group is considered a minority, but that other groups are marginalised.

The effect of marginalisation on life chances became recognised properly in the 90's. One way of counteracting marginalisation is to make it visable amd mainstream.

Married, if you think back to the changes that were just about to happen 18 years ago, new Labour, CTC, Surestart, you can see how it is all linked.

marriedinwhite Mon 28-Jan-13 23:22:20

Well it made me feel marginalised and I don't believe that can be right. I also don't think that is helping society to be truly inclusive at present and I fear it will back fire. I genuinely fear that because it really isn't what I want, what I would support and it terrifies me and yet the "system" seems intent on feeding the hand that might attack.

I am not trying to inflame I would like to ensure that things do not inflame and that we can be an inclusive society. I am genuinely fearful of where things might end up at present.

kim147 Mon 28-Jan-13 23:24:10

Don't worry, married, I can never see my family unit being featured positively on anykind of literature. At the moment, it's more likely to be late night Channel 4. And not always positively.

AmberLeaf Mon 28-Jan-13 23:25:27

Im sure it affected your life in an awful way? hmm

Sounds like you are making excuses for particular opinions.

nailak Mon 28-Jan-13 23:27:01

white british are the ethnic group which use our childrens centre the least, so on the cover of this terms calendar we have a white british father and child...

Lilithmoon Mon 28-Jan-13 23:27:16

Quite Amber.

LizzieVereker Mon 28-Jan-13 23:36:18

I appreciate that you genuinely felt marginalised married, but would it not be fair to say that most other representations of families then did depict your "normal"? And therefore your sense of marginalisation is not as profound as that of someone who never sees a child in an advert, a toy or a picture in a book that represents their ethnicity or family set up? And I'm really not sure that class distinctions were that evident in the 90s.

It just reminds me of the conversations I have every year when my very white (remarkably so in a diverse area of E London) marks Black History Month. There are always a few students and sometimes parents who ask "Why are you making a fuss about black achievement?" and, even more delightfully "When are we having White History Month then?". I want to mutter "because EVERY month is white flipping history month!" The positive promotion of minorities and the disenfranchised will not marginalise the majority any time soon.

marriedinwhite Mon 28-Jan-13 23:39:09

Would you like to be more precise AmberLeaf I don't talk in riddles. FWIW, I felt so marginalised as a new mummy I developed severe pnd; that's because the system marginalised people like me because those working for it seemed to resent providing support.

I thought Married was going to start talking about 'rivers of blood' next - but seriously Married are you saying that it's not really the white, wealthy middle and upper classes who are worried about the over-representation/privileged treatment of black and ethnic minority groups but infact the white, uneducated working class.

Really - the working-class who are far more likely to live along-side these groups, go to school with, work with, marry and have children with - these people are the ones we need to watch because they've had enough? I don't think so - pretending to fret on the behalf of another group to cover your own prejudices I think - politicians do it all the time.

kim147 Mon 28-Jan-13 23:41:42

"And therefore your sense of marginalisation is not as profound as that of someone who never sees a child in an advert, a toy or a picture in a book that represents their ethnicity or family set up?"

Exactly - I work with a lot of children from a wide range of backgrounds (inner city Leeds). They only see negative images of themselves in the media - which is not good for them. It's great to see them actually see themselves in postive role models in the media and in adverts.

It is great for anyone to see themselves on TV - look at the positive reaction to women scientists on TV and being depicted in a positive light / being there for their knowledge, not their looks (slightly off topic but the same principle).

It's good for girls (and boys) to see women being feature in a positive light for things other than being celebrities.

marriedinwhite Mon 28-Jan-13 23:45:30

Well the BNP isn't taking in hold in Putney, Wimbledon, Fulham, etc., *Emphaticmaybe*. it is in Barking, Dagenham, etc.. You work it out.

marriedinwhite Mon 28-Jan-13 23:47:31

My DH is working class stock from Inner City Leeds *Kim*. It's people like his mother's neighbours I worry most about.

kim147 Mon 28-Jan-13 23:59:07

So you're saying you don't want "over representation" of diversity in an area where there is not much diversity - and you feel that the majority groups feel marginalised at the expense of diverse groups?

Look at normal TV output and newspaper coverage for a week and see what groups are represented and how they are represented.

I'll think you'll find white, middle class,married couples to be well represented in mainstream media.

It's important to get those diverse groups involved and to be seen "by all" as hidden groups not worthy of being included. It's a fine balance to be struck.

But you ask yourself what images are thrown up everyday, how many different groups are shown and what the common messages are. I think it would be interesting.

You might be interested in this - it's a BBC report showing how women are reported and shown in the media.

www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20554942

Yes but you have to look to see where the fuel is coming from Married - Tory backed papers spouting half-truths and mis-information about immigration. These papers may be bought by the working classes, but they aren't written or owned by them.

AmberLeaf Tue 29-Jan-13 00:44:27

Marriedinwhite

Hang on? your husband is working class from leeds? yet in your previous posts he was one half of a middle class married couple?

So you as a couple were represented in that booklet full of working class folk then?

Valdeeves Tue 29-Jan-13 07:19:55

I haven't read all this sorry as little time but just wanted to add:
I'm white British but my children are not.
We live in a predominantly white British area.
They are the invisible ethics mentioned before!
I find all the publicity related to children completely white British. No problem with that but it doesn't include us in the way it could, I suppose it would seem like tokenism - but for me it would be inclusion.

theplodder Tue 29-Jan-13 07:41:36

The local authorities are just trying to show you the future they have in store for you.

SolomanDaisy Tue 29-Jan-13 07:55:27

Been reading BNP leaflets there plodder?

gordyslovesheep Tue 29-Jan-13 09:28:44

Oh good a future with less people like plodder? Bring it on!

specialsubject Tue 29-Jan-13 09:34:39

I remember being annoyed as a kid that the families on the boxes for games where all blonde. (and of course all white). I am white, but not blonde. Just did a spot of research and this does appear to have changed - far fewer photographic boxes but where they are, couldn't find one blonde and there were some black faces too. So there is progress.

Just watch any news article about engineering and they will always interview a female engineer. She will be one of very few, if not the only one in the place. Thirty years of effort hasn't changed that which is a shame, and I think it IS patronising always to call on the 'token' if there is one. But if there isn't - just show the people who are in the place concerned. The mix is what it is!

one day we will hopefully not even notice.

Pendeen Tue 29-Jan-13 14:27:09

gordy... if you read what I actually wrote you will see that, from my perspective yes the picture would quite obviously seem odd.

gordyslovesheep Tue 29-Jan-13 14:44:27

Oh I got your point ...there are no black people in Cornwall hmm

Pendeen Tue 29-Jan-13 23:15:18

Oddly enough, although that was not my point and - in absolute terms you are wrong - there is a grain of truth in what you say if you look at the demographics of my county in a little more detail. You may begin to understand that the UK outside the large cities is a very different place from what you )may) have been led to believe.

It would be quite interesting to meet you and compare your and my experiences over the past 30 years.

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