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To say I don't like community groups to delibrately segregate people?

(42 Posts)
helpmegetthisrightplease Fri 12-Jun-09 12:25:24

I've name changed as I'm so upset with myself and ashamed. I feel as if I've messed up completely.

I sit on a committee that allocates grants. I've met with hundreds of organisations in the last 5 years and there have been no problems.

Yesterday we met with a group who offer clubs to a particular ethnic group. The lady said that the group were trying to integrate children into British society. She said these children only went to schools aimed at their community, their parents wouldn't allow them to go to normal activities for cultural reasons and they weren't allowed to mix with other children not of their community. Her group offers weekend and after school activities but ONLY to children from this particular community.

I questioned how this would help children integrate and she became defensive. I then said "I'll be honest with you, I don't really like groups that cater to only one sector of society whether they be for example special needs, afro carribean, white or Asian". She became even more defensive and perhaps sensibly my colleague took over the questioning.

Afterwards I got ripped into by my colleagues. The woman has now written to my senior manager accusing me of acting like a member of the BNP, being racist, delibrately degrading and humiliating her and a host of other things.

I wrote and apologised last night as did feel I'd expressed myself badly and there had been misunderstandings on both sides. I offered to visit the scheme to learn more about it in my own time but she's emiled back saying I'd only upset the children and again accusing me of being a closet member of the bnp.

Feeling so angry with myself but also with hr. I've made it clear I'll stand aside from any further disucssion relating to her bid and ask colleagues to disregard my qeustions and comments yesterday in their considerations.

I've never done this before. I don't know what came over me, I'm crying buckets even now. It was just not me.

Probably worst place to post this, come and have a poke at me as well

slushy06 Fri 12-Jun-09 12:34:43

I don't think you are racist I think you asked a question regarding how segregating children from ethnic minorities would help them integrate happily into the community. I think it is possible that integration is not the point of this club but more support for ethnic minorities to have somewhere to go to discuss any problems. I think you and her just got wires crossed and the fact that your upset about this would make me doubt you are racist.

junglist1 Fri 12-Jun-09 12:36:42

So her point was in order to integrate these children she was going to cater just for them? And that makes you racist how? I don't understand the reasoning from what you've said here, TBH. You were advocating different communities mixing, right?

Lulumama Fri 12-Jun-09 12:39:28

positive discrimination can backfire, can't it?

from what you have said it does not sound racist

would this group would be a time for them to learn english, discuss things without being possibly mocked by their peers? to have a safe haven that will help them learn and progress ready to integrate?

i do think segements of the community can need groups that cater just for their needs

for example, a group aimed towards children whose mobility is v v limited.. after all there are laods of groups for children who are not lmiited, parents might welcome a group where the set up is totally geared to their children

i can see both sides, i don;t tihnk you were being racist.

it is a shame you could not debate the pros and cons of a closed group without being called racist

Stigaloid Fri 12-Jun-09 12:44:45

I think she was in the wrong and so were your colleagues for backing her. If you said you wanted to start up a white only community run program for children you would be lambasted. Same goes for any ethnicity. We live in a multi-cultural society which should be opened for all. Good for you for raising your voice and don't stand down because you are being brow beaten by people who lack common sense.

I'd also threaten her with libel if she makes the BNP comments again. Especiallyas she has done it in public and in writing.

If she is looking for funding for a support centre for kids of her own enthnicity then that is a different matter and depends on whether your grants allow to provide for segregated groups.

Either way - you were unsupported and she is very wrong to start labelling you libellous names

FAQinglovely Fri 12-Jun-09 12:50:23

actually Lulu is correct. There is a strong case for groups for people with many different needs and identities. Where there are already problems with integration within the community the children often find it even harder so having support and help from their peers, with whom they share a common identity is often vital.

There have been numerous studies and programmes run (which have been studied) that show that this can work and why. I would quote from some - but unfortunately don't have the relevant books to hand.

flashharriet Fri 12-Jun-09 12:52:54

I don't think you have messed up, I think the key is in this sentence:

"The lady said that the group were trying to integrate children into British society."

You, quite rightly, asked her how operatingly completely seperately was going to promote integration. If she had stated that her group was for support and to provide a safe haven, then integration doesn't come into it, but she didn't.

She needs to decide why she needs this grant and what her group is actually for and your colleagues should support you in that.

The only area where you said something unfortunate was giving your own personal opinion as to which groups had valid claims - she can call you on that, I guess, but it doesn't make you a member of the BNP ffs.

screamingabdab Fri 12-Jun-09 12:56:51

Agree with lulumama, and you don't sound racist to me.

onagar Fri 12-Jun-09 13:02:43

What she was asking for wasn't integration so you were right.

If she actually said "they weren't allowed to mix with other children not of their community" I think I'd have shown her the door. That's different from 'They have diffilties mixing with the local community' which might make it ok.

knockedgymnast Fri 12-Jun-09 13:03:18

Why did you apologise when you said you felt you hadn't wrong?

onagar Fri 12-Jun-09 13:04:28

difficulties not diffilties.

Tortington Fri 12-Jun-09 13:05:30

i have worked in a similar field for many many mnay years. i have been a grants officer and i appraised grant applications and i have heard community and voluntary groups present their ideas to our grants board

i can't actually see what you did wrong from your post.

but if your collegues ripped you a new one - it makes me wonder whether you said something a bit dodgy

anyway - lets say you didn't.

you shouldn't have apologised and admitted fault - if there was no fault to admit.

you should make sure that your organisation adheres to a strict HR policy regarding investigation of this incident and disciplinary action if required

you should contact acas.

you should get hold of the HR policies and procedures.

Lulumama Fri 12-Jun-09 13:07:49

the BNP comments were uncalled for

this sort of thing is dangerous

you are allowed to question her bid. her ehtnicity or the ethnicity of the children in the group should not preclude debate re the correctness of allocating the money

every bid has been questioned over the years , but you were called up on challenging this one and branded a racist.. that is veyr very dangerous and inappopriate

i think that would upset me more than anything

you should not be blackmailed into keeping quiet for fear of being branded a racist.

which is essentially what is going on here

Tortington Fri 12-Jun-09 13:08:22

i would also add that your employers have a 'duty of care' towards you - now i am not sure what this covers - or how far this stretches - i mean i would hope that any investigation would be impartial and fair and that you be given every support considering you have twice been called a member of the British National Party.

so worth asking what kind of support you should be expecting from your employer - froma acas

screamingabdab Fri 12-Jun-09 13:15:55

Great advice.

helpmegetthisright Please stop blaming yourself.

Longtalljosie Fri 12-Jun-09 14:08:40

This person is bullying you by accusing you of behaving like a BNP member. What, are you not allowed to ask questions?

Is this a council committee? I thought the law had changed recently so it was harder to give public money to areas which only cater for certain ethnic groups? Have googled and tried to find evidence of this but can't so may be wrong - am sure another MNetter will correct me if so

LovelyTinOfSpam Fri 12-Jun-09 14:30:38

Oh dear. The woman sounds rather defensive to put it mildly. I can't see anything wrong with your question given what she said the group was for - groups of all types which cater for one specific set of people need to be able to clearly and logically explain why there is a need for the segregation. There is a need for separate groups of all types - many people have specific requirements and difficulties which are not experienced by the rest of society. But the groups need to be able to say why without getting shitty about it.

TBH it doesn't sound that desirable to have someone who so quickly leaps to offensive accustions (BNP etc) and accusations of racism being tasked with teaching children who are already cut off from mainstream society how to integrate.

SoupDragon Fri 12-Jun-09 14:39:20

It sounds like the woman is one of those people who thinks any criticism is racist. This does no one any favours whatsoever.

I too do not understand how a closed group promotes integration into society. I also wonder what would happen if someone not of that group tried to attend.

All I can see that you may have done wrong is perhaps a lack of professionalism when you mentioned that you don't like segregated groups. If you'd restricted your questioning to how a segregated group promotes integration, I think you would have been fine.

screamingabdab Fri 12-Jun-09 14:41:26

I can believe there was a mis-communication during the meeting, but her rejection of your email and offer to come and visit the project on the grounds of "upsetting the children" does sound over the top.

Unless your tone in the meeting was SO hostile that she found it unforgiveable, which frankly, given what you have told us, sounds unlikely.

helpmegetthisrightplease Fri 12-Jun-09 14:43:06

I admitted fault because when I thought about it afterwards, I realised that there is a place for groups which as Lulu has suggested give people a safe space to discuss their issues.

The sad thing is that the group could have so much potential in terms of helping people understand their culture which is one I'd personally love to learn more about.

screamingabdab Fri 12-Jun-09 14:44:46

Stand your ground !

Good luck

FAQinglovely Fri 12-Jun-09 14:47:04

"I too do not understand how a closed group promotes integration into society"

ok - so take the colour out of the equation. Say this was a group for HIV positive haemophiliacs - that was only for those people. Would you still feel the ysame way? They often have difficulties in integrating into society because of a lack of understanding about their problems. But groups for this exist.

In fact there are 1000's, probably 100,000's of groups were are exclusive to a particular group - groups based on a shared identity, whether that's ethnicity, religion, illness, anything - you name it there are "closed" groups just for those people.

LovelyTinOfSpam Fri 12-Jun-09 14:51:18

There's a difference between giving support to people who all share something - be it illness, sexuality, ethnicity, anything really, and promoting integration.

Groups which exist to promote integration normally are integrated - so that the people with the shared thing can get to know the wider comunity and vice versa.

Segregation is by definition not integration.

FAQinglovely Fri 12-Jun-09 14:53:30

sorry lovely - didn't make myself clear - I agree with you on that one - because as you rightly say a support group for a particular issue can't be an intergenerational one - I was talking about the general need for closed groups.

FAQinglovely Fri 12-Jun-09 14:54:40

arghhhh - and I should double check which word I click on when I used the right click for correcting spelling mistakes

insteaad of intergenerational - read integrational (which I have just discovered isn't actually a word grin)

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