How ‘black Turks’ are created
It was at that time when the Welfare Party (RP) was closed and the Virtue Party (FP) had just been formed. I was the Ankara representative of daily Radikal then. A three-person team from the paper interviewed the FP party chair, Recai Kutan.
In that talk, it was Recai Kutan who first said, “We are the blacks of Turkey.” This phrase immediately became popular and in following years we heard it from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan many times.
What does it mean to be a “black of Turkey?” It means to be looked down on in every respect. For a segment of the society to be looked down upon there has to be others who see themselves above them. Who are those “upstairs” people?
Turkey is a society not easily understood based on Marxist analyses because our classes are not merely based on economic grounds. We don’t have a British class divide; we have many social mobilization opportunities. Like the “American dream,” we come across a “Turkish dream” frequently.
However, a person born in a village and who starts life with zero capital can become a businessperson worth billions of dollars, but he or she may not be able to overcome his status as a “black Turk.” It is not related to money or fortune.
That is the reason Turkey’s political institute is seen as the main mechanism for social mobilization, moving those who are born “black” to the upper classes. As a matter of fact, a political party claiming to be representing “black Turks” has been governing Turkey for the past 14 years.
It is true that the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) has done a lot and is continuing to do so for the political and economic equality of these segments. However, in Turkish society there is a mechanism creating those black Turks and at the same time, the elite class. The AK Party did not take the adequate steps to break this.
That mechanism is education. The most valid way to climb to the upper classes, as everywhere else in the world, passes through education in Turkey.
A report issued last week revealed that this inequality actually started at the age of 3 or 4 in Turkey.
According to the report prepared by the Mother Child Education Foundation (AÇEV) and Education Reform Initiative, only a very small percentage of our children can receive preschool education.
We have struck a blow to our barely 30 percent schooling rate in preschool education by lowering the age of starting elementary school to 5.
Whereas, if we were able to educate our children one year or ideally two years before school, we could make a serious change in their future educational achievements. As a matter of fact, those children who are able to receive two years of preschool education will be the elites of tomorrow. They will always outdo the other children who did not receive pre-school education, both during their 12-year compulsory education and in their lives following it.
According to my rough calculations, we are able to educate 100,000 of our 1 million students who start elementary school every year to a level where they are able to compete with their peers in the world. About 300,000 of them receive an education “good enough for Turkey;” the remaining 600,000 join the “blacks.”
This is a country where who will become “black” and who will become “white” is decided at age 3.
Worse, while the children of “the blacks” will mostly stay “black,” the entire children of the “white” will grow up with the guarantee of remain.