Fact Sheet 3| What can we all do about Racism?
Racism is not just about black versus white - it is much deeper than that;
- It could be a group of white kids picking on the only black one.
- It might be because someone is Asian, Chinese, Polish or Russian.
- It might be because someone speaks a different language or has a different skin colour.
- Sometimes it takes the form of bullying and attacks.
- Sometimes it might involve ignoring someone or refusing to speak to them.
It's a sad fact of life that racism still exists in this country and the chances are that we have all either seen or experienced it at some point in time. Unfortunately racism is not going to go away quickly. However, that doesn't mean there's nothing you can do about it.
What we believe about people from different racial backgrounds is usually learnt from our parents. From a very early age, we hear their opinions and accept them without asking questions. However, as people get older they are exposed to other influences - like their friends. This is known as "peer pressure" and it can be good or bad.
Bad peer pressure is when you do something that you don't want to because your friends say you should. Peer pressure can sometimes lead people into making racist remarks, or even attacking someone, just to fit in with their friends. Often, if just one person in the group was prepared to speak out, things could be very different. If your friends try to get you to make racist remarks or bully people because of their colour, the most basic thing you can do is say: "No! I don't want to do that. I don't agree with you."
It takes a lot of will power to say "no" to people that you know well, trust and respect, particularly when they keep on asking you. You need to be able to tell yourself that you have made your decision and know that it's the right thing for you to do. Stick at it, and you'll probably be surprised by the number of people that support you.
Peer group pressure can also be when you are a different colour, nationality or religion from your friends, and they tease you about it or make comments about people similar to you when you are with them, but you keep quiet because they are supposed to be your friends. You don't have to listen to them say things like that. Tell them you don't think it's right, and if they really are your friends they should stop.
If you think someone is being unfair to you or is bullying you because of your race or colour, you should tell somebody as soon as possible. Try talking to a parent or teacher if you can. That doesn't mean you're telling tales on someone - it means you are standing up for your rights. By telling someone, you are taking the first step towards sorting out the problem. You don't have to accept it, because it's not your fault and you haven't done anything to make people torment you in this way.
No-one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn hate, they can be taught love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.
Think about how you would like it to stop - what are you going to do, and who is going to help you? You could try keeping a note of what is happening - that way you can show other people what is happening to you and it might help you to prove it, if that's necessary.
Even though you might want to, you shouldn't rise to the problem. Answering back or getting into fights will only make things worse. Instead, try to get help and talk to someone about it. Be aware. You can't spend your life worrying about racists, but it is important to be careful. Try not to walk about on your own where you know other people who taunt you will be. It will be hard, but try not to let it bother you. Stay confident, keep talking about it and telling people who can help you.
Just as you have the right to expect not to be bullied because of your race or colour, so it is your responsibility never to treat anyone else badly because of their race or colour.
You can do this by making sure you don't use offensive racist language, by not using racial stereotypes and by challenging people you hear making racist comments or jokes. Try to help anyone who is being treated unfairly or bullied. Let them know that they can talk to you and can count on you for support.
If there is a group of young people being targeted in school, perhaps you could help raise the issue, at the School Council or in a school magazine if you have one.
To increase our knowledge, we ask that if you experience racism that you fill out our report form on the website. We will use this information to compile records and inform those we work with on appropriate responses.