Let’s talk about race

Battle of Ideas festival 2023, Sunday 29 October, Church House, London

Recorded at the Battle of Ideas festival 2023 on Sunday 29 October at Church House, London.


Too often, talking about race feels fraught with difficulty, leaving us walking on eggshells to avoid offence. However, this can mean that important questions and queries go unanswered, and grievances can fester. Luckily, more and more authors are taking up the challenge – and this session features three of them in conversation.

Rakib Ehsan’s Beyond Grievance: What the Left Gets Wrong About Ethnic Minorities argues that the left too often buys into toxic, imported ideologies around identity politics. Left-wingers are also complacent, he argues, assuming they can depend upon a traditional support base among ethnic minorities. As a result, they fail to engage with the small-c conservative values around family, faith and flag that many of these communities support. Yet these values could create a fairer multi-ethnic society based upon equal opportunity, social cohesion and a national sense of belonging.

Remi Adekoya’s book It’s Not About Whiteness, It’s About Wealth notes that Western conversations on race and racism often revolve around the holy trinity of the race debate: colonialism, the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the ideology of white supremacism. However, Adekoya argues that it is socioeconomic realities which play the leading role in sustaining racial hierarchies in everyday life. He looks at the global big picture, regularly overlooked in the current debate.

Finally, in Against Decolonisation: Campus Culture Wars and the Decline of the West, Doug Stokes challenges the theories and arguments deployed by ‘decolonisers’ in a university system now characterised by garbled leadership and illiberal groupthink. More broadly, Stokes examines the threat posed by Critical Theory to wider society and critiques the desire to question the West’s sense of itself, deconstruct its narratives and overthrow its institutional order.

Dr Remi Adekoya
lecturer of politics, University of York; author It’s Not About Whiteness, It’s About Wealth and Biracial Britain

Dr Rakib Ehsan
author, Beyond Grievance: what the Left gets wrong about ethnic minorities

Professor Doug Stokes
professor in international security and director of the Strategy and Security Institute, University of Exeter; senior adviser, Legatum Institute; author, The Geopolitics of the Culture Wars

Dr Jim Butcher
lecturer; researcher; co-author, Volunteer Tourism: the lifestyle politics of international development