I had a trully upsetting and shocking experience today. I just feel so angry about it. I have two students of afro-carribean descent. I'll call them Julie and Tommy. Julie is from a rather well to do family from London. She speaks in very pronounced English and is a lovely, kind intelligent woman. Tommy (my fav...shush) is a 21 year second generation Nigerian from Manchester. They are fab students and I am proud of them both. They are just coming to the end of an 11 week placement where they have been racially abused every day. Called the N word, monkeys, asked if their hair was real or if people could touch their skin. Julie was even asked why she speaks so posh as N...... don't talk like that! I almost cried when she told me. She said for the first time in her life she wished she wasn't black! I am just trying to process this. Obviously they have been pulled off that placement and official processes will now take place but I having been trying to understand what I felt. I just realised it's guilt. I am so sorry. Julie said she had never experienced this in multi-ethnic London, I hate that anyone would think this is normal for the north of England. I feel terrible that my student got told to leave a country that she was born in. That people are so ignorant and so cruel. You know what, she even tried to defend them. I am so sorry for what we did...when I say we...I mean us, the white anglo saxon Europeans. We did this. Both these guys are heading for very high class degrees. Tommy particularly is very bright. I am disgusted that he was told the only things black lads can do is play football or box. (His ethics assignment got 93%!) I am white, ginger, professional and I suppose reasonably priveldged. However for the first time in my life I trully feel angry by how damaging racism is. I would appreciate your thoughts because all I want to do is cry.
As someone of Asian descent, I've always found that my experiences tend to be different from those of my friends who are of European descent (I do have diverse friends, always have). When they discuss travel, especially to Europe, I hear things that don't match with my own experiences. I've had racist comments hurled at my face by total strangers, especially in the Netherlands. I have many relatives in the Netherlands. They have been there for 50-60 years, some were born there. They all speak fluent Dutch (my dad's generation spoke Dutch as a first language). My relatives are successful professionals (though many are retired now). Yet, they are treated as second class citizens at times, such as being served last though they have been waiting in queue earlier than others (I did actually see that myself). When I was a graduate student, I had a fellow grad student friend who's of Japanese descent but Canadian born. We were discussing our experiences in Amsterdam. She told me she had a group of young black men shout racist insults at her.
I grew up in a diverse multi-cultural community where someone's skin colour or ethnicity didn't matter. I had friends of all backgrounds and we didn't notice that we were any different. We were all just Canadian kids. Oftentimes, I don't even notice what someone's skin colour or ethnicity is (until someone ultimately reminds me I need to treat different people differently). Someone on this site called me "colour blind", and that is supposedly not a good thing. But I can't help that. I treat everyone as they treat me. I help anyone who needs help no matter who or what they are. I am not naive and unaware of the social/political/economic issues that relate to race and class. After all, I am educated in Anthropology, Sociology, Criminology, History, etc. I've worked pretty closely with indigenous communities as well.
The experiences of those students of yours are probably similar to mine (though may be much more severe and frequent for them). Growing up where we were and highly educated as we are, we just never expect to be singled out for racist comments. We grew up among people who didn't make our race an issue, then we go out to other environments, and we are shocked that some people would throw racist comments in our faces.
But racism isn't a one way street either. My relatives can be very racist towards persons of African/Carribean descent (it was interesting when I dated a couple of such individuals). My auntie came to my parents' anniversary party last year, and she said she didn't like London because "there are too many black people now". I was so disgusted at her. I wear my "colour blindness" with pride. I don't care.
Unfortunately, for those of us in the US the disgust and shame you now feel towards your less enlightened countrymen as well as the anger is an every day occurrence. There have always been ignorant racists here, but in the past three years they've become emboldened and take pride in being lowlife scumbags.
The ONLY thing any of us can do is call it out when we witness it.
Influence the people in our lives as much as possible.
Refuse to accept it, and make those we catch acting that way, feel as
terrible as possible about it.
Shame them for being assholes.
Use your anger. Channel it into not remaining silent.
and people will say "why don't blacks achieve as much?" This is why... minorities and those perceived as different are systematically beaten down from childhood in small and large ways.
I'm sorry they suffered that. I hope they rise above it and take their places wherever THEY choose to be. I hope they succeed and never look back and most of all I hope their children never suffer that abuse.
Unfortunately it is so because we do not know or take time to know each other. When we intermingle, when we take time to sit down and talk, we see that we are not that different, that we want the same things, to belong, to be loved, to be able to bring up our families, to work at a job that pays us at least a living wage, to feel like we are contributing, to feel like we matter. But when we have forces that try to divide us with lies, then it is extra difficult................
It's is horrible the way some people behave. I have come upon racism myself. As I am originally from Europe but live in Australia. I speak with a slight Scandinavian accent and sometimes at work when people call they want to speak to an Australian they say, they want to speak to my supervisor or someone higher up. Well I don't fall for that, I straight away pull them up about their racist remarks and ask them if they are Aborigines to have a right to question my nationality, most of them just hang up, some start swearing but they I end the call.
There’s been a big empowering of such folks in the past 3 years. They’re horrific but racism is the new normal. I hear stories of Eastern European’s being abused and beaten on the streets.
You will have seen me perhaps getting pretty direct with the member here who was defending Tommy Robinson. I cannot stand where we are going on this... I’ll be really firm in holding that line.
That is very sad but in my experience of working in England there is a hard core of "little Englanders " who have been supressed for some time but with Brexit and the rise of "populism" they are becoming more confident and outspoken. We have some in Scotland too and they include the English in their list of people to hate.
I'm right there with you. I'm a ginger of Anglo-European descent with a doctorate; however, I am the proud daughter of two parents who were raised on farms and had difficult lives. I am furious when my students tell me the awful things that have been said and done to them strictly based on the color of their skin. Unfortunately, racism is taught to children from a young age. Here in the USA it's even "institutionalized"--meaning there are still laws in place that disenfranchise African Americans. We, of course, also have Trump's horribly racist treatment of South Americans fleeing to the USA. I wish I had words of comfort, but we educators have to keep moving the younger generations towards the acceptance and celebration of diversity. You're a warrior for your students.
Shocking...and yet I’m not really surprised. In the areas away from the large metropolitan areas, where there are very many less black and ethnic minority people than you would find in any of the bigger cities, the amount of racism is high. I think it’s always been there, but it wasn’t always so obvious before the Brexit Referendum. The leave campaign seemed to unleash a flood of repressed racists....it was as though they were just waiting for permission to vent their ideas of hatred and bigotry. This government are not in control of anything, and the Police Commissioner has just stated that funding cuts are affecting the ability of the police to prevent and prosecute crime. I’m sure raciallly motivated crime is hugely on the increase, but the chance of the authorities getting to grips with it, especially preventing and countering it, is remote at present. Sad for people such as your students.
To me, that is sickening stereo-typing to say the least.
I was 'adopted' by Australian Aboriginal rite and lore with the agreement of my father when I was 13 years old by a very well respected and old Aboriginal friend and his wife.
Jack and Mary, my adoptive Aboriginal parents, had 2 sons and a daughter and ONE major rule in their household, NO Alcohol what-so-ever which both boys broke and were consequently asked to leave the family, young Virginia, " GinGin" as she called herself as a child, is a very brilliant, clever and highly intelligent person who, despite the hassles, etc, etc, has gained numerous degrees in Science and now holds a very prestigious position in a Scientific Research Organisation here in Australia.
My sister still calls herself Gin-Gin and still calls me the albino Brolga, the brolga being a native bird and known as the 'native companion' btw. Both Jack and Mary decided to give me the name Brolga because, like the bird, I had long, skinny legs and was always shuffling them around similar to how the birds 'dance.'
No matter the skin coloration or ethnicity, there should be NO precise little 'boxes' for anyone to made fit into, we can and SHOULD be allowed to strive for and reach our OWN fullest potential.
I'm sorry they experienced that and you felt unable to protect them. Unfortunately it will stay with them always. Hopefully they won't let it define them. Your guilt is normal. People who are like you in some way made others who are not like you in that way feel bad, shame and it angered you and shamed you. It is not your fault but I understand you somehow feel complicit. That's totally normal for an open and enlightened person. The next thing is... what will you do about it.
You have options to help them, help your community and help yourself. Reporting the issues is one thing. Think about these options:
Reach out to authorities about racial tolerance education for the environment where these students were. It might not be possible to see that it happens but check into it and offer to do whatever it might take to help that education happen.
Seek out advice from the black community on how to help these students, how to educate the community and how to help yourself deal with your feelings. Turn you anger and pain into proactive solutions. When you feel an injustice has been dealt then you can try to right it.
Again, the assholes may be from your area but you are not responsible for how they were raised.
This is so painful and sad. As a military brat, I was raised in what I call a mini UN, type of environment, and feel this is what helped me form my views of other people. There were, black, brown, Asian, Indian, every type of people you could imagine. My parents were also very open minded and taught me that racism is an awful way to go through life. I look at behavior before anything else. I keep hoping one day the world will stop all this hatred simply because of the color of a person's skin. Please give a hug to your students from me.
I feel your pain. It is just too easy now-a-days, to say things without wondering if this/that person will be offered. When I grew up, I was considered ‘poor white trash,’ but it was subdued and by adulthood, I had a decent sense of myself. But, people in my early adult years (back then) seem to show more respect for other people. However, only 50-60 yrs later, there seems to be blatant disregard, for people, in general! And it gets worse, if you are different in some obvious way. Maybe a large segment of any population, lacks empathy! At least, it appears so, here in the US.
This story just breaks my heart. Do what you can, when you can. That is all we can do. There are good people out there too. We need to speak our minds and drown those bigots out until their voices are so small that nobody can hear them. I wish I could hug and console your students.
I live in Texas, USA, and I know that we have this same sort of problem, apparently to the extent of about one third of our population. It isn't something to feel glad about, and I'm ashamed that I felt that way, but it is nice to know that other countries have the same problem.
All you can do is not be that way too, and whenever you get a chance to do something about it , do it.
The unfortunate part of this is that much of this kind of racism has been enabled and exploited by politicians to use a tool of division, in hopes that their greed initiatives through "austerity" will remain undiscovered. Ignorant folks are all too willing to accept a scapegoat.