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It set out examples of how white people are more likely to live in their own home, earn higher wages and feel safer. But Tory Robert Halfon said the charity had made a “grave” error and the comments were “insulting” to white families facing struggles in their lives.
The education select committee chairman told Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan the organisation’s actions were “not acceptable”.
He said: “This is a huge mistake you have made to present it in the way that you have done.
“I think it is wrong. I think it is insulting to disadvantaged white people and I urge you that when talking about the scourge of racism in the future that you don’t do it like this.”
Barnardo’s faced a backlash after publishing White Privilege – A Guide for Parents online last October.
It told parents talking about the issue “means looking at how our own actions maintain and support racist systems and structures” and white privilege is “reinforced in all aspects of everyday life”.
The guide included a link to an article on the Aljazeera website titled “all the ways white people are privileged in the UK”, which said the Brexit vote was “boosted by far-right sentiment, which spread hate about immigrants”.
Around 80 percent of the children Barnardo’s supports are white.
Conservative MP Tom Hunt said it was “quite strange” that people from a disadvantaged background were being given a guide about their own privilege.
He added: “When you have got a charity like Barnardo’s who should be, as you do, focusing on the most needy, bringing people together, I just caution about trying to engage in controversial, divisive debates.”
Mr Khan said Barnardo’s trustees backed the organisation over the row and told the committee there had been an “outpouring of racist abuse” after the guide was published.
He said it seemed “very, very unfair” that the charity was in the line of fire.
“We simply were responding to an issue of the day, as we have done on many other issues,” he said.
“We don’t subscribe to any political ideology. We are a charity.”
Mr Khan said the charity wanted to help families understand the term white privilege and that if you “happen to be non-white there is one additional disadvantage that you face”.
He added: “We are learning from the experience. Our intention was not to be political, not to be woke, not to adopt any kind of political ideology, simply to help parents as best we could.”
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