Mrs Justice Pauffley and Rachel Dolezal- Opposite ends of the Spectrum

There is a clear link I believe between the recent case of the judge Mrs Justice Pauffley’s comments relating to the way she dismissed the case against an Indian man beating his 7-year-old son, in UK, in which she maintained that “ proper allowance must be made for what is, almost certainly a different cultural context” and the parallel case in the USA of the white woman Rachel Dolezal claiming to be black and leading the Spokane Washington branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured (Black) people, (NAACP) America’s oldest civil rights group. A black British female novelist being interviewed on the subject on Channel 4 News on Friday 13th June said, “It should only be a black person leading a civil rights organisation”.

In the first case both white and black people are up in arms about Pauffley’s comments and yet in Dolezal’s case it is mainly black people who are not happy about her claim to a black identity. (Excepting of course the NAACP, who is still not sure how to deal with being hoodwinked by someone who has done such great work for the civil rights movement in USA).

So what is the link?

In the end it is down to our own individual worldview. If we agree that any discrimination is an exercise of power in some form or another then Racism is also a demonstration of power against another based on colour, race or nationality.


Let us take the case of Pauffley. When one examines the case it is clear that on the “Balance of Probabilities” she found the man not guilty of using a belt to chastise his son. Therefore he used reasonable punishment, which is legal.

She also found that the man had abused his wife violently, but this was never reported in the popular media.

It is however her world view which brings into question her judgement as a High Court Judge.

She has used her power and not a legal basis on which to make mitigation in favour of the Indian accused. If she had not mentioned the man’s ethnicity and only a made a judgement based on the facts, the findings would have been seen to be just and fair, irrespective if people had disagreed with her findings. What came first, her worldview and then her findings or her findings and then her worldview?

By adding the comments she made she may have effectively ‘positively discriminated’ in favour of the accused, therefore using her power inappropriately.


Let us take the second case. Rachel Dolezal has undoubtedly been a great advocate of Civil Rights as the President of the Spokane branch of NAACP in Washington. (I am personally not in favour of the use of the word ‘Coloured” when referring to Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) people), however, her excellent work in this arena goes without saying. She may have broken the law in declaring her ethnicity as African American in any application for work. It is also true that she has been dishonest in stating she is black when clearly she is not. That is not the issue, the issue is her mind set at the time of entering the world of civil rights and wishing to do good work in that field and maybe feeling, look if I am not black will I be accepted? and clearly listening to the backlash from the black community on this subject she may well have been right. Is it racist to exclude somebody on the basis of the colour of his or her skin? Of course it is.

Any exercise of power to exclude people based on the factor of colour is wrong.


The link is that racism is much more nuanced, subtle and multi-faceted and layered than ever before and we all need to look at it differently, both from the law and our own individual worldview.

There is racism between white and black, and within the black community.

I have personally experienced the racism in the Caribbean of racism between Africans and Indians; I have observed the racism within tribes in Africa, and also in the Middle East between Arabic sects. I have also observed the racism between these groups in our own society. We need to stop looking at colour and start looking at behaviour and the reasons for that behaviour, so that people cannot hide behind the old adage of “I’m not racist but”!

Actions or lack of action determines racism and all other forms of discrimination together with, not just colour, race, nationality, gender, gender reassignment, age, sexual orientation, faith and religion.

This is a monumental shift in view, which society and the politicians need to understand. It is not just good enough to reflect society because we immediately get drawn into a numbers game of this amount of these people and this amount of those people. Big picture thinking means we create opportunity for everyone through education, training, a level playing field in terms of advancement in the workplace, pay, contracts of work and the access to the law, housing and safety and security for all. Only in that way will we create a society capable of true integration. A society where actually it’s OK for someone who is white to be accepted enough to lead a civil rights group and where an Indian boy who is beaten by his father receives the justice he deserves.

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