Racism In Education
“No human race is superior; no religious faith is inferior. All collective judgments are wrong. Only racists make them” ― Elie Wisel
As some of you may know from my last blog post I have been in Brighton this weekend at a conference. The conference was held by Unison for its Black members and happens yearly. I won’t discuss the conference in any real detail here but I did attend a workshop at said Conference and it sparked/inspired a blog post in me about the subject matter of the workshop; Racism in Education.
The Work shop was led by an Organisation called ‘Show Racism the Red Card‘ you would be forgiven for thinking that it’s a euphemism for football but they are the UK’s Anti-Racism Educational Charity.
They spoke about the equalities act of 2010 that was passed, spoke of some interesting facts, such as we share 70% of our genetic make up with a potato; and then discussed in-depth the notion of racism in schools. the systems of exploitation, oppression the inappropriate use of language and Western ideas and values. It was at this point I took inspiration from the discussion and wanted to share it with you in a post.
The notion of racism in schools
Teachers by the nature of their job title teach. they are part of the pillars of society that keep any nation going and for the most part are probably overworked what with having to deliver the curriculum, mark homework and deal with children who’s behaviour is less than stellar, deal with governors and such the like. This however comes with the territory and should not mean that they are exempt from apathy and ignorance. The woman who delivered the workshop spoke of issues of apathy and ignorance that she has met when delivering training to teachers and its this apathy and ignorance that needs to be challenged.
Some teachers are ignorant to the prejudices that they bring to the classroom. That every single person brings with them anywhere. We all have a belief system that the way we do things is the right way to do things (otherwise why would we do it the wrong way?) and that anyone who does things differently are doing it wrong and as a result of this we have prejudices. It might be something so simple as I have a bath in the morning, which is the right way versus having a bath in the evening, the wrong way. We have our reasons for bathing in the morning that outweigh bathing at any other time of the day. So if you bath at a different time to me I am going to think my way is the right way and judge you for it.
Now that is a base crude example but we all have our preconceived ideas about what is right. If teachers or anyone in society for that matter does not understand the importance of this and how it affects how we view others, I am sorry to say is part of the problem. Living in the UK, Western culture is the predominant culture and if you do not fit into my perceived understanding and view of that culture I will other you. Whether this is intended to be racist or not. When minority cultures within the dominant culture correct or dispute they way the dominant culture does something, says something, believes something, the dominant culture can feel threatened and when anything is threatened ‘fight or flight’ comes into play.
This flight or flight we are seeing played out in the media with headlines such as….
Teachers/educators are not immune from these messages that are quite frankly laughable. ‘They have stolen ALL our jobs?’ Really… Every last one!!! These migrants that are taking positions from ALL of us have done so how? These emotive headlines fuel anger and lies and people lap it up like water in a desert. All they do is other and allow the dominant culture to believe they have been victimised. This builds resentment and apathy and I believe that apathy is not too far removed from ignorance, if in some instances they are not inextricably linked.
Speaking of Apathy….
Some teachers do not believe that they have an issue of racism in their schools because they only have Non Black students. Well they may not have any Non Blacks doesn’t mean that those in the school do not hold preconceived prejudices about Blacks and have no one at the school to dispel the beliefs that the school and its pupils may have. Its my opinion that those institutions should do even more to ensure that their community is not filled with apathetic and ignorant people.
Whilst we are at it Ignorance….
In trying to educate those who do not have the knowledge because well… knowledge is power, you could offend those that are ignorant, those that believe the headlines, those that believe immigration is the countries ill and those that are immigrants and all of their children born here or otherwise should leave the country would return to normal we wouldn’t have benefit cheats, we would have jobs for those “British” that so rightfully deserve them. We would have a steady economy and the country would not be in debt and would not have all these austerity measures.
Are these people failing to realise that the country was invaded so many times by the french, by the vikings that people have moved and continue to move that being white and born in the UK doesn’t automatically make you a English, Scottish or Welsh pure blood? That this Country became a first world country off of the back of colonialism, off of slavery? That if it wasn’t down to the countries in the British Empire helping in wars, in providing sugar, tea and other commodities, building infrastructure and homes that we wouldn’t have what we have today? austerity or no? That generational rich who amassed substantial gold and riches off of the slave trade, banks and stately homes would exist as they do today? These are legacies left behind…
That by challenging your inappropriate use of language is not censorship, but informing you or what IS acceptable. Nigger, Paki, Half-Caste, Coloured, Jew and any other offensive word is just that offensive. It comes from a place where the user of the word used it to alienate and make the person being referred to feel less of a person, to degrade, to hurt. Being ignorant is not acceptable being apathetic to the pain and suffering of the people is not acceptable. Just because a few people in the Black Community decide to use the N word and is used in popular music by rappers and other ‘musicians’ does not give you licence to you the word. Firstly refer to my previous point of its use to cause pain and suffering. Besides not all Black people use that word and do not feel comfortable with the use of that word.
Terms such as Ethnic Minority are also unhelpful and in some instances incorrect as in some parts of the country the “ethnic minority” being referred to is actually the dominant ethnicity of an area and therefore being called the minority is literally nonsensical.
Non Blacks do not be alarmed when we say to you that we are not ‘Stealing your Christmas’ that you can freely sing Baa Baa Black sheep in its original form, it is not offensive it is not racist. That schools have not done away with blackboards out of consideration of us! They have done away with them because we have fancy all singing and all dancing whiteboards that are up for the job. It is okay to order a Black coffee we will not be offended and iot in the streets!
When hosting diversity days, use a bit of common sense and show like for like if we want to dispel myths about other cultures and customs. Stop showing starving children in the continent of Africa (yes Africa is made up of more than 1 country and is indeed a continent-for those that were not aware of this), There are starving children the world over; the UK included! Show like for like, if you are going to show a stately home or palace to a class full of school children show the same for somewhere in Africa. Don’t show a hut as if everyone lives in one! They don’t just as everyone does not live in a mansion over here. Masks are ornaments for display and expression people do not wear tribal masks to go to work or school, Can we apply some logic here!
Yes Muslims go to Mosque, pray and have a belief in God just as Christians go to Church, pray and have a belief in God being a Muslim does not make you an extremist, does not mean you are going to behead someone or cause vile acts of ‘terror’. What people need to stop doing is tarnishing everyone with the same brush. Being a catholic priest does not automatically mean you interfere with young boys so apply the same common sense! Black woman are not angry black and mad why is she aggressive but a non black assertive? Why is a Black child disobedient and wilfully defiant and untameable but a Non Black child precocious? Speaking of wild, defiant and untameable that is not our hair either! Straight is not necessarily better unfortunately for you our hair likes to defy gravity-deal with it!
BREATHE Ashleigh BREATHE!!!!
I get worked up about things like this I can’t deal with stupidity when logic should prevail in situations such as these. I feel though that I can write until Kingdom come and this is incredibly long! So…..
Well Show Racism The Red Card had loads of solutions to the problem of racism in schools and in the education system.
1) Teachers being more aware of the impact of identity on themselves and pupils in the school
2) Anti-Oppressive frame work to teacher training
3) Education with Critical Thinking at its core
4) A less Western Centric system- instead focus less on how you support and help we are not invalids! Please bare in mind that your belief that you freed us…have you forgotten that you enslaved us in the first place?! That’s really shown in popular culture! rolls eyes! You never start the story at the beginning sigh. I spoke about this in my post Thought Provoking- The Read which you can find here.
By demanding Equal rights for ourselves does not diminish from yours. Just to be clear we are not asking for equal rights, that means that they are yours to give to us and they are not-don’t get it twisted! We are going to take it and if you don’t like it well…. I really can’t help it
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