This Major British Newspaper Tried to Get Away With Racial Scapegoating

In an atrocious move lacking journalistic integrity, The Telegraph ran a story Wednesday with the headline, “Student forces Cambridge to drop white authors.” In reality, this version of the story is completely untrue.

As the New Statesman writes, “The Telegraph’s spin on this story,” originally that “'Cambridge University’s English Literature professors will be forced to replace white authors with black writers’ due to pressure to ‘decolonise’ the course' – is way off.”

The headline was accompanied by a photo of Cambridge University Student Union women’s officer Lola Olufemi, implying that she was the sole demander against the English department.

In reality, Olufemi did not force the university to do anything. She merely submitted a petition, signed by over 150 people, recommending the department include more diverse authors in its course reading lists. Since the school's inception over 800 years ago, the vast majority of English texts have been authored by white men. Over 100 members of Parliament sent a letter to Oxford and Cambridge Universities this week, proclaiming the importance of campus diversity after news broke this month that 10 Oxford colleges failed to admit a single black advanced-level student in 2015. A former education minister has since accused the school of “social apartheid,” sparking some intense conversations about diversity and representation in England.

Many have expressed outrage at the Telegraph’s use of race-baiting and scapegoating, and sympathy with Olufemi. Cambridge University Student Union president said on Twitter “Press have behaved at their worst, willfully turning something positive into a scandal and victimising a truly inspiring person.”

Olufemi told the Tab that the Telegraph article “is riddled with factual inaccuracies” and attempts to “delegitimise me as a co-authour of the open letter by using out of context quotes in an attempt to turn me into a 'controversial figure'.”

The Tab further reported that elsewhere in the story, the Telegraph claimed that “Cambridge University caves in to student's campaign to replace white authors with black writers.”

No such caving in occurred. Cambridge refuted this claim in a statement, explaining that “changes will not lead to any one author being dropped in favor of others — this is not the way the system works at Cambridge.”

The petition, Olufemi told the Tab, “was written by a group of students who think that it is a serious injustice that many go through their entire degree without formally studying any authors who are not white.”

The latest version of the Telegraph article now reads, “Cambridge University’s English Literature professors could replace white authors with black writers.”

H/T New Statesman


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