KCL accused of creating ‘segregation’ for hosting non-white tai chi classes for staff

24 per cent of staff at King’s are of BAME backgrounds, the UK university national average is 17 per cent

King’s College London has been accused of creating segregation by hosting non-white only tai chi classes.

All staff were invited via email by the employee Race Equality Network to participate in Chinese martial art classes led by tai chi practitioner Jalal Afhim, chairman of the King’s staff Race Equality Network, reports The Telegraph.

These classes were advertised as being “for staff who identify as black/people of colour/global majority” and were “aimed at combating chronic stress experienced in the body as a result of racism and systemic oppression”.

However, the sign-up form looked to verify that the participants were of a “global majority background” (e.g. black/Asian/POC/GRT). Those wanting to join the tai chi classes were faced with a requisite question which asked them “how do you identify in terms of your heritage/ethnicity?”

The sign-up form justified this question by stating that “the sessions are intended specifically for those who experience racism… in recognition of the physical and emotional harm that systemic oppression can inflict”.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines a “global majority” as a group of people “who do not consider themselves or are not considered to be white”. 24 per cent of staff at King’s are of BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) backgrounds making it higher than the UK university national average of 17 per cent.

A King’s lecturer has stated that it is not clear “how segregated tai chi classes will help to achieve KCL’s diversity goals” and reported that “it is surprising that out EDI (equality, diversity and inclusion) team and the college newsletter to endorse it”.

On the website, King’s College London states: “As an employer and educator, King’s recognises its legal duties as well as the moral imperative to promote diversity and inclusion within the campus community and to provide a safe and healthy environment for work and study where staff, students and other members of the King’s community are treated with dignity, courtesy and respect”.

Tory MP and a former education minister, Sir John Hayes has deemed this incident “worrying”, stating that “some of it is malevolence, some of it is just stupidity” and has called for “the Commission for Racial Equality to check whether the architects of this have broken the law”.

A King’s College London spokesperson said: “We are proud to be a university which is committed to creating an inclusive environment.

“This is strengthened by the work of our volunteer staff networks at King’s who represent different communities among our staff, and help provide support for the challenges they experience through a variety of events, discussions and activities.”

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