Schoolchildren have been urged to “read woke” and study books claiming racism was invented by white people, the Telegraph can reveal.
A literacy project funded by a Scottish government grant has been piloted to help “enlighten” pupils on racial issues.
The publicly-funded project titled “Read Woke” has supplied books to primary schools which claim that racism was invented by white people.
One of the many racially-themed volumes provided to secondary pupils asserts that it is impossible to be racist against white people.
The project providing classroom teaching material and books for school libraries has been piloted by South Ayrshire Council – and the local authority plans to expand it in future.
One of the titles on a primary school reading list devised for Read Woke is the illustrated work My Skin Your Skin by Laura Henry-Allain.
The children’s book states on one page: “Racism started a long time ago when white people wanted to have more control over people who were not white.”
“An example of racism is when white people think they are better than people from other races,” it adds.
On the Read Woke reading list for secondary pupils is This Book is Anti-Racist, by US author Tiffany Jewell, which tells young readers: “Being racist against white people is not a thing.”
‘Reverse racism is not real’
It adds that “reverse racism is not real”, and claims that “contrary to the dictionary definition” racism must involve the “abuse of power by institution”, which the book claims does not affect white people.
The book offers advice on how to raise concerns in the classroom about “the dominant culture of white supremacy”, and warns against “the trap of labelling ourselves in ways that centre whiteness”.
The Read Woke website for South Ayrshire stated that the project which was first piloted in 2021 aims to “awaken our students to a range of important issues, enlighten them, and encourage them to think critically and with empathy when forming opinions”.
The project has provided “a range of class sets of novels to allow teachers to immerse their classes in the books and stories at the core of this project”, and has undertaken the work of “significantly upgrading our library stock”, with reading lists of books on race issues being created for this purpose.
The project was adopted from the Read Woke idea of Cicely Lewis, a US librarian, and has been supported by funding from Scotland’s School Library Improvement Fund.
‘Put the books in the bin’
In January 2023, Shirley-Anne Somerville, the Education Secretary, welcomed the “anti-racism focus of the projects” supported to date by the Fund, saying they would “allow school libraries to engage with pupils on the importance of belonging, inclusion and social justice”.
The Read Woke project has drawn criticism, however, from the Don’t Divide Us campaign.
Dr Alka Sehgal Cuthbert, the founder, told the Telegraph: “This initiative is normalising politically radical and partisan beliefs. It will do nothing to help teachers teach pupils how to read, and has little to do with education more generally.