Coalition for Racial Equality & Rights

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Racist incidents in Schools – Scotland needs a new approach

Scotland’s schools have recorded over 3,000 racist incidents in the past five years, according to figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats through Freedom of Information requests. While this may seem shocking to some, we’re confident that it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

In 2012, CRER undertook detailed research into racist incident recording practices and policies in Scotland’s schools. What we found was a patchy, problematic range of approaches. Based on research carried out by Respectme and LGBT Youth Scotland for the Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2015, little appears to have changed since then.

In our experience, two key problems make racist incident recording in Scotland’s schools ineffective. Firstly, a lack of understanding of the nature of racism and its impact in schools beyond direct cases of bullying; and secondly, disjointed recording processes and practices within schools.

Scotland’s education departments have had plenty of time to develop effective policy and practice in this area. Recording of all racist incidents in schools was a key recommendation of the Macpherson Report, the publication which cemented the definition of a racist incident as ‘Any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person’ in 1999.

That understanding seems to have rolled back, replaced by a defensive arrogance which both misinterprets what racism means and puts more emphasis on pandering to white sensitivities about ‘being called racist’ than it does on protecting children from racism. This attitude persists despite the clear fact that it’s the incident (not the child or the school) which is being recorded as ‘racist’.

However, our 2012 research did find some examples of good policy making in local authority education departments on racist incident recording. This should be capitalised on at a national level so that children in all areas can benefit, putting an end to the current ‘post code lottery’ approach which makes it so difficult for parents in some areas to challenge schools’ failure to deal with racism.

In our experience, racism in schools is still a serious problem and we are not convinced that current approaches to tackling it are working. Even although we aren’t funded to provide advice services, CRER regularly hears from parents whose children have faced serious harassment, physical violence and psychological torment at the hands of their classmates. In many cases, these parents report being dismissed, belittled and (somewhat ironically) even bullied when they try to seek help for their children. And it’s not just school children who are affected. The majority of perpetrators of racist hate crimes in Scotland are young men who have recently been through the school system. If the system was working properly, they would know better.

In an interview with the Times Educational Supplement, Louis Kushnick (race equality activist and Professor Emeritus at Manchester University) put forward a strong argument for mandatory incident reporting as a tool for social change: “Do we want a society characterised by stupidity, bigotry and ignorance? Or do we want our children to be at ease with the world? ...If we don’t raise our children to be decent human beings, they’ll bring into school what they’re consuming elsewhere and no one will challenge it... If you don’t have monitoring you have no way of identifying the scale of the problem. And if you leave it up to schools, there’s no reward for flagging it up.” Our research supports that view.

The EHRC’s research from 2015 also demonstrated that while practice on race is mixed, most other forms of prejudice based incident aren’t recorded at all. But with no central guidance or collation of statistics to give momentum to this work, it’s perhaps little wonder that practice is often so poor. It’s time for Scotland to develop a national strategy on recording and responding to all forms of prejudice based incidents in schools. Our children’s wellbeing depends on it.

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585

‘Post-ref’ racism and five ways to tackle it

With the upsurge in media coverage of racism linked to ‘Brexit’, people have increasingly been asking CRER about getting involved in tackling racism and hate crime. This was a pleasant surprise for us. We deal with these issues on a day to day basis and have done for almost twenty years, so it’s refreshing to see so many people willing to stand up against racism (although it’s worth mentioning that concerns raised by Black activists about the tone of the current debate do resonate with us).

Whether you’re new to anti-racism or just looking for a different approach, there are dozens of ways to take action now and in the future. However you do it, the important thing is to build anti-racism into your day to day life; not just now, but for the long-run.

Here are our five top suggestions:

  1. Build a strong understanding of race and racism, and share this understanding with family, friends and colleagues. This will help increase the number of people who can make strong arguments against racism in all its forms:
  • Our ‘Changing the Race Equality Paradigm’ guide for organisations highlights some of the key concepts.
  • Websites like Media Diversified and Runnymede’s Race Matters have a range of articles that look at current affairs issues from a race perspective.
  • Finding out about Scotland’s Black History can help to challenge assumptions about minority ethnic communities in Scotland. There’s no one comprehensive source of information on this, but some resources are available on this page from Education Scotland. We co-ordinate Glasgow’s annual Black History Month programme of events; sign up to our email list if you’d like to receive more details later this year about the 2016 programme.

 

  1. Directly challenge racism and hate speech whenever it occurs, in a way that’s effective and safe:
  1. Report any racist incidents you see, whether in public spaces or online:
  • We developed a guide to responding to and reporting online hate speech; it also explores the difference between hate crime and hate speech.
  • If you witness a racist incident or hate crime in Scotland, you can report it to Police Scotland even if you weren’t the person being targeted.
  • If you see racist materials (for example posters, stickers or graffiti) in a public place, you can report it to your local Council’s environmental department (in Glasgow, there’s a dedicated Environmental Task Force). Materials intended to stir up racial hatred can also be reported to Police Scotland.
  • Report any racist incidents at work, College or University under the relevant policies, and support colleagues or fellow students who are complaining about racism.

 

  1. Encourage your local politicians to take action against racism:
  • Write to MPs, MSPs and local Councillors to ask what they are doing to tackle racism and racial inequalities, and encourage them to speak up on race equality.
  • Ask your local politicians to support local or national anti-racist campaigns.
  • If you’re a political party member, encourage your local branch to actively recruit more minority ethnic members and to encourage and support them to stand as election candidates.
  •  
  1. Work with others to tackle racism:
  • Some employers have equality committees or equality champion schemes you could get involved in. If not, there are often likeminded colleagues you could join up with to think about how to promote race equality at work.
  • You could help to arrange or promote anti-racist training opportunities at work. Ideally, encourage your employer to provide this widely to staff rather than just those who already have an interest.
  • Some Colleges and Universities have Students’ Union officers responsible for equality. They should be able to advise you about any opportunities to get involved in anti-racist activities on campus.
  • Universities can apply to join the ECU’s Race Equality Charter scheme.
  • You can support campaigning groups and get involved with community organisations. All organisations work in different ways, so opportunities range from volunteering to holding a fundraiser, donating money or attending a protest rally. Not all organisations advertise for volunteers or have formal volunteering processes (particularly smaller community groups) but if you can offer practical help, some will welcome informal involvement – so if you are aware of a local group you’d like to support, there’s no harm in getting in touch to offer your assistance. Most formal volunteering opportunities will be advertised through local Volunteer Centres.

 

As you’ll gather from our ‘Changing the Race Equality Paradigm’ guide, CRER’s focus is on tackling structural and institutional racism, so we’re particularly keen to see more individuals pushing for change in the institutions they’re involved in.

Tackling these entrenched forms of racism is especially important for the future generations of young minority ethnic Scots who will continue to face racism based on their skin colour. Xenophobia against white migrants (horrifying as it may be) thankfully often tails off once families have settled here. Their children grow up being perceived by others as Scottish; they look ‘Scottish’ and sound ‘Scottish’.

Black minority ethnic Scots whose grandparents were born here, on the other hand, continue to face the eternal question: “Where are you from?”

The attitude that underlies that question in ‘friendly’ small talk is the same one which leads to racist violence. Assumptions about whether someone belongs or not. About who is ‘welcome here’ – and, for that matter, who has the power and privilege to ‘welcome’ another person to their own home in the first place.

Truthfully, there’s nothing particularly new or different about the racism we’re seeing following the EU referendum. What’s really remarkable is the strength of the current public outcry against it, and the opportunity this brings to build support for anti-racism in Scotland.

We know from previous experience that the media will soon shift its focus away from hate crime, abuse and inequality. It never had much focus to begin with on the less dramatic but equally damaging racial inequalities people face in employment, income and political representation.

It’s up to all of us to keep anti-racism at the top of the agenda.

 

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3314

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'I don’t want to make a fuss, I just want to ignore it.’
 

Everyday Racism
by Zandra Yeaman

Recent news has once again highlighted the issues of racism in Scotland and has led to some Facebook friends having to use their click power to unfriend people they have decided are racist.

The fear of being called racist has put many on the defensive. But as a colleague of mine pointed out, ‘being called “racist” is not an insult. It’s an adjective to describe something which prioritises the importance and value of one ethnic group’s identity, appearance, culture or way of life over others. It’s the assumption that your cultural viewpoint is the right way, the best way – everything else is an anomaly, to be tolerated at best and eradicated at worst.’ (http://www.crer.org.uk/crerblog?start=20)

Most people seem to think of racism in its extreme forms of a white person physically attacking a black person, or in overt forms such as a banana being thrown at a black footballer. However every day racism not only includes these forms of oppression but also racist practice that goes unnoticed but is nonetheless still felt strongly by Black Minority Ethnic (BME) people on a daily basis.

Despite BME people living with the anticipation that racial discrimination can (even will) happen, and this in itself is stressful, what is usually forgotten is that most BME people are not overly sensitive to racial discrimination; in fact many are reluctant to label behaviour as racist before giving the situation serious consideration.  No one wants to feel humiliated because of who they are or because of the colour of their skin.

Let’s pause for a moment and consider some examples of what everyday racism looks like:

Politicians make discriminatory statements such as ‘British jobs for British workers’;

Daily Mail cartoon depicting black people in the jungle along with a headline “‘Am I Black?’ asks Tom Jones”.

Teachers sharing Britain First posts with racist sentiments with their classes;

White people rolling their eyes at yet another challenge to their racist joke (and then complaining ‘you can’t say anything these days without the fear of being accused as racist’);

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17305

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Monday 27th January 2014 marked Holocaust Memorial Day when we remember the victims of the Holocaust and of genocides in Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia and Darfur.

“The Holocaust was the murder by Nazi Germany of six million Jews. While the Nazi persecution of the Jews began in 1933, the mass murder was committed during World War II. It took the Germans and their accomplices four and a half years to murder six million Jews. They were at their most efficient from April to November 1942 – 250 days in which they murdered some two and a half million Jews. They never showed any restraint, they slowed down only when they began to run out of Jews to kill, and they only stopped when the Allies defeated them."

"There was no escape. The murderers were not content with destroying the communities; they also traced each hidden Jew and hunted down each fugitive. The crime of being a Jew was so great, that every single one had to be put to death – the men, the women, the children; the committed, the disinterested, the apostates; the healthy and creative, the sickly and the lazy – all were meant to suffer and die, with no reprieve, no hope, no possible amnesty, nor chance for alleviation."

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14551

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The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) Annual Report has set out a stark picture of the challenges faced by Black and minority ethnic communities in Europe.

Its review of racism and ethnic discrimination finds that crimes motivated by racism, xenophobia and related intolerances, the mainstreaming of elements of extremist ideology in political and public discourse and ethnic discrimination in healthcare, education, employment and housing persist throughout the European Union (EU). Roma populations in particular continue to face discrimination, as evidence collected by FRA and other bodies demonstrates. EU Member States made efforts to develop comprehensive approaches to Roma integration. Nevertheless, more still needs to be done when it comes to securing sufficient funding for Roma inclusion and ensuring that it benefits targeted groups, putting robust and effective monitoring mechanisms in place, and fighting discrimination and segregation, the European Commission concluded in its assessment of National Roma Integration Strategies.

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In the past few months the world has witnessed several high profile incidents which have resulted in increased discrimination against persons from Asian backgrounds. Such incidents have included the bombing of the Boston Marathon, the trial and conviction of an Oxford sex-grooming ring, and most recently the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby. With each of these events has come a media flurry that has overwhelmingly focused on the Muslim community, and through this one-sided coverage there has been a growing tension; leaving some people from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds, particularly those from the Muslim community, feeling vulnerable and under attack once more.

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The Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights welcome the news that the Council of Europe has launched a campaign against the growing problem of hate speech online.

The No Hate Speech Movement will aim to tackle all forms of racism and discrimination on the internet by helping young people and youth organisations to recognise and act against this latest form of human rights violation. The rise in the use of hate speech – in social media, forums, chat rooms and elsewhere online – has prompted some commentators to label the digital phenomenon as a new form of human rights abuse. 

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