95% of Black children have 'heard racist language at school'

Almost all Black children have heard racist language at school, according to a new report.

The Young and Black report, released today by YMCA, has revealed that 95% of young Black people have heard and witnessed racist language at school, and 78% have heard and witnessed racist language in the workplace.

Worryingly, young Black people in the UK said that they now grow up expecting to experience racism because of the colour of their skin.

Young Black people also feel that racial stereotypes might negatively impact their development and opportunities. 49% say racism is the biggest barrier to academic attainment, and 50% say it is teacher perceptions of them.

‘The report highlights that this is not just the action of individuals but it is institutions themselves that are perpetuating a culture of prejudice, discrimination and exclusivity,’ reads a statement from members of the YMCA Youth Advisory Group.

‘What struck us most was the sheer level of acceptance but also exhaustion in the Black community, for people so young to be so tainted by this. It is time those with a platform, resource and power did some heavy lifting to make society fairer.’

When it comes to entering the workplace, young Black people feel that employer prejudice affects their chances of getting a job. 54% say that bias at the recruitment stage is the main barrier to employment.

Half of young Black Brits also feel that lack of diversity is a barrier to getting a job, while 52% specified lack of diversity in leadership.

The institutions responsible for equipping young Black people with the tools to tackle their future are the same ones they feel are holding them back. And education and employment are not alone in this.

When asked about police attitudes to race, the majority of young Black people say they do not trust the police to act fairly towards them, with 64% worried about being treated unfairly.

More than half (54%) of young Black Brits say they do not trust the police to act without prejudice and discrimination, and 55% worry about being falsely accused of a crime.

The report draws on evidence from a survey of 557 Black and mixed ethnicity people aged between 16-30, conducted between 15-23 September 2020. The researchers also used focus groups via Zoom. These sessions included 5-10 young Black people aged between 16-30.

Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of YMCA England & Wales adds: ‘It is shameful that young Black people growing up in the UK continue to do so within a society that engulfs them with racist language and discriminatory attitudes. For too long we have allowed systems to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to what has been taking place right in front of our faces.

‘Bias and barriers chip away at and ultimately shape the life experiences of young Black people in the UK, putting them at a significant disadvantage. To improve the lives and experiences of young Black people in a meaningful way, systems embedded within institutions must be reviewed and changed.

‘However, we cannot do this without building a bridge to a community which has been beaten into fundamentally not trusting the very systems that need their help to be changed.

‘We must listen to what young Black people are saying, right now, and create the fundamental and vital change they are crying out for in order to create a better present and a brighter future. Change must come swiftly, collaboratively, meaningfully and with longevity.’

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