SOAS academic accused of racism after saying Stormzy’s dad ‘did a runner’

SOAS are looking into his tweets


Dr Paul Stott, an academic at The School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), has been accused of racism after tweeting about Stormzy's upbringing.

Dr Stott was among those who took offence to an interview where Stormzy called the UK racist, and tweeted his opinion on the interview.

He said: "If there's one thing the British are rubbish at, it's racism. After Stormzy's dad did a runner, our welfare state helped bring him up. It may not have been perfect, but it was better than what was on offer in Ghana."

This was followed by three tweets defending his initial tweet, including asking the rapper to say "thank you" to the country that "helped bring him up".

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As stated by Sofia Akel, Race Equality in Higher Education Specialist, Stott pushed a "you should be grateful black boy" narrative.

The academic's tweets were met with contempt from students, academics and other twitter users, particularly due to him incorrectly implying that Stormzy was born in Ghana, rather than the UK.

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Rather than acknowledging the struggle of people of colour in the UK, Stott tweeted that "Although he does not realise it, half the world would swap places with Stormzy in a shot, if they could."

SOAS students were particularly vocal in expressing their frustration and concern at the academic's tweets.

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Twitter user @yifantares told The Tab: "Dr Scott’s comments are representative of an issue faced within SOAS currently – that the university on the whole pushes for an anti-colonial stance on academia, but that the lecturing staff do not always tow this line, and it’s tweets like that from Dr Scott that create that atmosphere."

In an official statement on their website, SOAS said: "Comments made on twitter by the tutor Dr Paul Stott are personal comments and do not in any way represent the views of SOAS.

"These comments certainly do not accord with the values of SOAS as an institution. We agree with the criticism that has been expressed that these comments are ill-informed and extremely offensive. We fully understand why SOAS staff and students, and the wider community, are deeply concerned about statements such as this being made.

"Freedom of speech is a principle we strongly uphold, even if it means we must tolerate speech we find unpleasant, offensive and repugnant.

"Nevertheless, freedom of speech must take place within the law – and that freedom does not protect speech which is otherwise illegal. We will be looking carefully at how these public comments sit within that framework.

"SOAS is currently closed for the Xmas period, but we will take this matter up in detail when the school re-opens on 2 January."

The Tab reached out to Dr Paul Stott for a comment, but received no response.