In Black History Month new TAP tutor Josh explains how a sense of injustice prompted him to volunteer and how historic inequalities still act as a barrier to social mobility…
My name is Josh and this will be my first year tutoring with TAP. This charity makes a real, tangible difference to the lives of thousands of young people in the UK each year and is needed now more than ever.
Since beginning my career last year, it has been impossible to ignore how privilege in its many forms is an invisible advantage to those who have it, and simultaneously an impenetrable barrier for those who do not. Privilege is not a collection of characteristics selected at random, but instead, the types of things we consider to be privileges today have a long, often convoluted, history. It is not a random coincidence that I am the only Black man in a London-based law firm of over 200 people. Instead, this is just one example of how centuries of discrimination and intolerance manifest themselves today.
Growing up, I was comfortable and somewhat insulated from overt forms of racism. I attended an all-boys grammar school in South London, and, while it was officially a state school, most of the boys I studied with came from privileged backgrounds, like myself. Our parents paid for us to have private tuition when we were younger, and this meant that boys far cleverer than any of us were not able to secure a place. This is unfair, and I am determined to help young people without the advantages I was fortunate enough to have.
I was always under the impression that my parents’ and grandparents’ generations had opened society’s doors for people who looked like me, and that there was little left for us to do. I could not have been more wrong. We cannot sit back and hope that British society will become fairer or more equal of its own accord. The struggle is ongoing, and we all have a part to play.
I decided to apply as a tutor at TAP as I think it is one of the most effective ways that I can help to reduce inequality and increase social mobility in the UK today. If I can use my degree to assist just one person in school, into university, or into a career which would not have been available to them otherwise, it will have been worth it. I also hope that by volunteering I can show my friends and colleagues that it is possible to fit tutoring around work. Many I have spoken to about my involvement with TAP believe that they do not have the time to tutor, and I am determined to show them that they can.
I am really looking forward to meeting the young person I will tutor this year, and I imagine that they will also have a lot to teach me. I hope what I can show them is that university is for someone just like them, and that it will open doors which they cannot even begin to imagine right now. Every single person is special, and every single person deserves the help and support they need in order to thrive. No person’s potential should be restricted by their economic or social circumstances. It really is that simple.