East Coast College and Lowestoft Sixth Form stands against racism

Our college stands against racism in all its forms. We aim to ensure that all our students leave college with a strong sense of what it means to be a good citizen and can use their voice and education to make the world a better place for everyone. We do this in a number of ways including, through our tutorial programme, promotion of national campaigns and enrichment activities.

We are appalled at the recent events in the US which have shone a clear light on racialised inequality and injustice. We understand that the killing of George Floyd at the hands of the American police will have caused strong emotions within our community. As a college, we offer our full support to our BAME students and staff, and stand in solidarity with them.

In solidarity of our community, we have created this page to encourage dialogue, raise awareness and to help understand how we can all do more to stand against racism.

As a college, we promote values of Integrity, Respect and of Inclusivity and seek to create a sense of belonging for our students. Any form of discrimination is absolutely opposed to our values wherever it takes place in the world. Each of us must understand how racialised privilege operates in our society, and be bold in calling it out.  We need to have honest conversations.  They are not always comfortable, but they are at the heart of educating ourselves and bringing about constructive change.  There is a real commitment from the students and staff of our college to continuing debate and understanding, and to moving forward together in practical ways.

We will continue to listen to our community and to take action.

Do your research and find out more

Some examples of articles you can read are:

“Over the past few days I’ve wondered, why now? Why, after all we’ve known about police brutality against black people, are people only now saying, en masse, that enough is enough? I think there are two core reasons. First, given the lockdown, there’s not a lot else for young people to do. The anger is genuine, but the usual distractions that stop people from turning out have gone. It’s the first time in months that young people have been able to be part of a group activity.

But the other factor is more fundamental: and that is, white guilt. While black people have raged about the shootings and asphyxiations, for most white people there’s always been a get-out.

“It’s just that [those words again] … he was maybe being too aggressive … maybe the officers thought they were under threat … it was a spur-of-the-moment pull of the trigger.” It’s allowed white people to believe that, though the outcomes were all horrific, a white suspect in the same situation could have suffered the same fate. The George Floyd video crashed through that delusion. A subdued and incapacitated suspect; a knee pushed down on his neck as he pleaded for breath; passersby screaming for his life as it ebbed away; officer Derek Chauvin blithely ignoring it all, cocksure that he’d face no consequences for his actions; a fellow officer standing guard to prevent anyone coming to Floyd’s rescue. For almost nine minutes, many of them after he had passed out. Nine minutes.

No white person could believe this could happen to them. That an officer of the law could be so callous, so unconcerned about the life of a white man.

That’s why, this time, there have been unprecedented numbers of white people declaring their allegiance to the antiracism cause. On the streets, even in the US, most protesters have been white.”

What can we all do to ensure we stand against racism?

1. Be aware of our conscious and unconscious bias

Bias is a prejudice in favour of or against one thing, person, or group compared with another, usually in a way that’s considered unfair.

Conscious bias is where the person is very clear about their feelings and attitudes and their behaviour is intentional.

Unconscious bias is how preconceived ideas about race influences what we expect of someone and how we treat them. It is important to note that conscious or unconscious biases are not limited to ethnicity and race. Being aware of this is the first step to really being aware of the different ways in which racism shows itself.

Examples of unconscious bias:

Have you ever thought of or said these things to a black person?

  • Why do Black people do that?
  • Oh that’s not a very Black name.
  • You sounded so white over the phone.
  • Is that your real hair?
  • Look at my tan, I am as Black as you now.
  • I love your skin colour.
  • Mixed race babies are so cute, I want one.
  • Can I give you a nickname or shorten your name? Your name is a bit long.

 

2. Understanding white privilege

White privilege is not usually intentionally done by individuals and it doesn’t mean that all white people are racist. White privilege does not deny struggles that white people might face, e.g. poverty or discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. White privilege acknowledges the benefits afforded to individuals on the basis of their race. It means that systems in society have been historically set up to give white people an advantage or to suit the needs of white people because positions of power have been held by white men. White people can use their privilege to challenge this unfairness.

Examples of white privilege:

  • White people dominating the front covers of magazines.
  • White actors taking the majority of leading roles.
  • White people holding most of the positions of authority and power.
  • White young people disproportionately dominating the intake at Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
  • White people are less likely to be followed by the police or stop and searched.

 

3. Be aware of cultural appropriation

This is when someone adopts parts of a culture that is not their own because they think it is cool. While this is not wrong in isolation it becomes problematic when products of the culture are consumed without giving the necessary respect to that culture. Cultural appropriation often makes light of things that mean a lot to the people of one culture – this is often unintentional.

Examples of cultural appropriation:

  • Wearing traditional clothes and hairstyles from other cultures, without understanding the meaning.
  • Wearing religious and tribal symbols when you don’t follow that religion.
  • Using cultural or religious clothing as fancy dress.

What is an ally and why are allies necessary?

JT Flowers  is a 26-year-old American rapper, student and activist living in the UK. JT describes an ally as  “a person who’s willing to stick their neck out and stand up for what’s right when they see something going wrong”.

Allies help to support those suffering injustice. Allies are people who are willing to put their liberty on the line for a cause that doesn’t necessarily affect their wellbeing.

An ally is someone who

  1. Seeks to empathise with the struggles of marginalised and oppressed groups, even if they cannot fully understand what it is like to be oppressed or discriminate.
  2. Stands up for issues even though they might not directly affect them.
  3. Recognises their privilege and aims to use this in their efforts to stand up for those without it.
  4. Might be emotionally affected by the struggle of the oppressed but recognises that they must prioritise the emotional trauma of those directly affected.

The work of an ally

Many of those who want to be allies are scared of making mistakes that get them labelled as “ist” or “ic” (racist, sexist, transphobic, homophobic, etc.). As an ally, you need to be willing to own your mistakes and be proactive in your education. Just as society will not change overnight, neither will you. Here are some do’s and don’ts that are incredibly important as you learn, grow and step into the role of an ally.

What can you do to be an ally?

  • Be open to listening.
  • Be aware of your biases.
  • Research to learn more about the history of the struggle in which you are participating.
  • Take it upon yourself to use the tools around you to learn and answer your questions.
  • Reflect on how you might inadvertently/unintentionally reaffirm oppressive behaviours.
  • Amplify (online and when physically present) the voices of those you are supporting.
  • Listen and accept criticism with grace, even if it’s uncomfortable.

What you should not do?

  • Do not expect those who are oppressed to educate you on their struggles.
  • Do not participate for the gold medal in the “Oppression Olympics” (you don’t need to compare how your struggle is just as bad).
  • Do not behave as though you know what is best for people who are experiencing oppression and discrimination.
  • Do not take credit for the labour of those who are marginalised and did the work before you stepped into the picture.
  • Do not assume that every member of a minority group feels oppressed.
  • Do not tell or laugh at racist jokes.

Top Tips

  • Understand that black people face struggles that others do not.
  • Be intolerant of intolerance.
  • Confront your stereotypes and misconceptions and be open to being corrected.
  • Be proactive about inclusion in your daily life.
  • Make sure your own experience (I’ve been there too…) discount what you are learning about a black person’s story/experience.
  • Start and encourage dialogues about equality and justice.

The information on this page was created in collaboration with
Newham 6th Form, Highlands School Enfield and Mulberry School for Girls .

Answering your questions

Our students have asked us the following questions:

BLM is an organisation and movement that campaigns against racism and violence aimed at Black people. It was set up after the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2013 went unpunished in the USA. It is an international human rights movement. It holds protests speaking out against police killings of Black people and broader issues such as racial profiling, police brutality, white supremacy and racial inequality in the US. On the Black Lives Matter website they say this is done by ‘combating and countering acts of violence, creating space for Black imagination and innovation, and centreing Black joy’. It is a movement working to achieve Civil Rights.

 

Yes. The movement also campaigns against the issues raised in the American movement as the same issues face the black community in the UK. They fight for racial and social justice in the UK. They have run specific campaigns about police brutality and they celebrate black innovation, imagination and joy.

Unfortunately, racism continues to exist around the world. We have talked about it before and we will talk about it again. At the moment it is in the media almost every day. Protests about it have reached a new peak and the messages of the protests are being shared publicly and loudly in a way that they weren’t several weeks ago.

We want to talk about what conversations we have had before about racism. We will continue to talk about racism because we condemn it. We want you to feel confident in how and why we always stand up to racism, and we want to keep learning and talking about this.

Also, you will have seen in the news that there have been higher death rates in the BAME community from Covid-19. The British Bangladeshi community have been highlighted specifically in this report. Racism is in the news in lots of different ways and we want to talk about it.

All lives do matter. When we use the slogan ‘Black Lives Matter’ it is because we are talking specifically about the massive issue of racism towards black people. We are recognising that it is a huge problem and we are saying it is not ok.

Racism towards black people, by definition, is only experienced by black people. Imagine a street with lots of houses where one is burning down. Of course we don’t want any houses to burn down ever, but we would shout about the one that is on fire. If we say all lives matter then we are not talking about, recognising, or standing up to racism experienced by black people.

Lots of reasons. It was completely preventable and senseless. He told the officers that he couldn’t breathe and they ignored it. He also did not commit any crime and was suspected of a very minor crime.

The black community have been protesting about police brutality for decades and it has been ignored, and so this death is symbolic of that struggle. It was a very shocking murder. It was videoed by someone. The internet and social media means it spreads quickly. People watch it and share it and it is shocking and frightening to watch. There is no denying the facts of the video, as has often been done in the past.

 

No, there has been a history of incidences of violence towards the black community by the police. This is really well documented. Trayvon Martin’s murder caused the Black Lives Matter movement, but there have been countless others for example very recently Breonna Taylor, Mike Brown and Philando Castille have all died.

There are many ways to protest; signing petitions, writing to people in positions of power and authority and being proactive in educating ourselves. Under normal circumstances the Human Rights Act means that everybody has a freedom of expression and a freedom of thought and assembly. This means that everybody has a right to a peaceful protest. During this time, where Covid-19 means that there are laws in place to stop large gatherings, we do not encourage attending protests in person, but we recognise that this is a matter for you and your family.

Celebrities, corporations, music labels and sports stars vowed not to post on their accounts on what is being called Blackout Tuesday following the death of George Floyd. Those that took part were encouraged not to buy or sell any products to mark this day. It spread across social media as people shared black squares to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

The movement became controversial as people used the hashtag #blacklivesmatter which then meant that it removed important posts about protests and made information hard to find and reduced donations to charities and the sharing of petitions that are important.

Know that it is never ok. Always report it. Never put yourself in an unsafe position but tell someone when it is safe to do so. Offer support to the person.

If you feel safe to raise it in the moment do, if not, speak to a person in authority who can help you with it. At home this could be your parents, carers or other family members, in the community it could be the police or a community group, at college it could be a teacher or other member of staff. Do not ignore racism when you see it.

Childline have some useful resources on this:
www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/bullying-abuse-safety/crime-law/racism-racial-bullying

When a person dies we often say ‘rest in peace’. Rest in power is a variation of this. It is often used by the black community, and sometimes the LGBTQ+ community to commemorate a person whose death is considered unjust or wrongful. Rest in power is used as a call to continue a struggle for social justice and as a show of solidarity. It is a way of paying respect to a person who made a difference in the lives of minority or oppressed communities, or someone who has died too soon or senselessly. That is why you see #restinpower next to pictures of George Floyd.

  • Individual racism is the beliefs, viewpoint, and behaviours of individuals that support or maintain racism in both conscious and unconscious ways. Examples include not being friends with a black person because of their race, using racist language or telling a racist joke.
  • Interpersonal racism happens between individuals. These are public expressions of micro aggressions, often involving slurs, biases, or hateful words or actions.
  • Institutional racism is based around and within an organisation. The treatments, policies, or practices are discriminatory, unfair, and biased and based on race, giving a better outcome for white people over Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people. Although institutional policies may not specify race, their intent is to establish advantages for one racial group over another.
  • Structural racism is the entire system of racial bias that spans through institutions and societies. It allows privileges for white people, while providing extreme disadvantages to Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups. For example: Racial stereotypes that depict Black people as criminals or “thugs” in mainstream movies, media and entertainment.

To not be racist means that you realise that all humans have an equal right to respect and tolerance. When you are not racist, you do not see yourself as better or more deserving of anything in this world because although we are not all the same or share the same experiences, we have the right to be afforded the same access to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. However, just because you may not be racist does not mean that you are not complicit or engaged in upholding the benefits and privileges given as a result of systemic racism.

Being anti-racist, on the other hand, means that you are actively doing the work to combat racism – “Anti- racism is the active process of identifying and eliminating racism by changing systems, organisational structures, policies, practices and attitudes, so that power is redistributed and shared equitably”.

You can make a commitment to notice racism and stand up to it.

You should never use racist language. You can read about racism and injustice, you can sign petitions, you can write to your MP about issues in the UK. You can listen when someone tells you that you have said or done something that is experienced as racism. Do not immediately say ‘I am not racist’, or ‘I didn’t mean it to be racist’.

You should listen, offer an apology, and then make a commitment to ensure that you don’t repeat the same actions again. We have many platforms at the College where you can share your ideas, views and opinions.

START HERE with East Coast College.

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