Youth Against Racism in Europe

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youth against racism in europe

anti-racist education pack

written by young people, for young people

(Here are a few text excerpts from the 64 page fully illustrated education pack)

intro from the YRE

This pack was developed as a result of Newcastle YRE's anti-racist education pack for the North East, which the YRE nationally was closely involved in producing. The research the North East pack involved and especially its popularity were more than enough to convince us that there was an enormous demand for good anti-racist resources.Throughout history many different people have fled to escape persecution. In the 1680's 100,00  Huguenot refugees settled in Britain

Many young people today are disenchanted with their future. Mass youth unemployment, poverty wages and education cuts are forcing them to the edges of society. The failure of mainstream political organisations to represent them or voice their frustrations has led to enormous alienation. No wonder some young people have been drawn to neo-Nazi ideas because of the lack of a political alternative to the attacks they are facing.

However all our campaigns over the last three and a half years have confirmed the opinion of the founding members of YRE: that most young people are searching for unity and a way to make those in power listen to them.

We hope that this anti-racist pack will help young people all over Britain to direct the anger they feel at the oppression they suffer in a positive direction, not take it out on each other.

The pack provides a basic introduction to racism and many related issues. In particular we have tried to demonstrate that Blacks and Asians, along with other targets of oppression, are not passive victims. The history of racism is a history of how Black and Asian people have fought back against racism and exploitation.

The Huguenots gave the word "Refugee" to the English languageYoung people in Britain today need to be told about this in order to counteract the myths of white superiority which have been being spread ever since the days of the slave trade. Young Blacks and Asians should be able to have a sense of pride in their own history, not have it left out of the curriculum.

The pack has been designed to adapt to most situations - from a formal class using all the exercises to one person interested in knowing more. However the best way to use it is probably to work through it in sequence. It begins with a quiz which aims to raise some of the main issues which run through the pack and give the reader an appetite for more information.

Throughout the pack we have used the term Black and Asian. This aims to cover all people of African or Asian origin. Although many Asians now choose to call themselves Black, many also do not. Therefore when we have used Black and Asian throughout the pack in the interests of consistency and clarity. Where we refer to a particular group, we have made it clear we are referring to that group and no-one else - e.g. Afro-Caribbeans, Africans, people from the Indian sub-continent.

Wars force people from their homelandDue to space and time there are, of course, many issues we haven't been able to cover, or deal with fully. Therefore we have compiled a long list of other sources at the back of the pack for anyone who is inspired to look further into the issues.

We hope that this pack will encourage young people who are using it to find out more about racism and how to fight it. The more young people who are conscious, independent-minded and alert to the issues there are, the better prepared society will be to defeat the reactionary forces of racism and fascism.

Naomi Byron

national secretary, YRE

(British section)

 

[Cartoon excerpts from "Britain's First Refugees" from the Refugee Council's book We Left because we had to]


 

Teachers' Introduction

Youth against Racism in Europe's antiracism education pack should become an essential resource for every school that is serious about challenging racism and racist ideas. Written by and for young people, these YRE materials will provoke discussion and debate and help to answer some of the arguments peddled by racist organisations in Britain today.

Racism is an issue that teachers ignore at their peril. Whether it's name calling, bullying or even actual physical attacks, racism can divide any school community. But as the Burnage report pointed out, it cannot be tackled merely as a moral issue. Racist arguments can provide powerful explanations for the poverty and unemployment that many young people face. The YRE pack makes sure it tackles these issues head-on, answering the lies about Black and Asians being responsible for crime and the lack of jobs and decent housing.

Since the successful YRE pack was first produced in the North-East, the National YRE pack has been updated and improved. important issues for young people like racism in sport have been added. With many teachers worried about the diverse effects of the Asylum and Immigration Bill, the additional material on refugees and immigration is very welcome. The 'Stop Racism in our Schools' questionnaire, piloted in Hackney and Islington, will not only benefit school students but also teach many teac . hers a lot about the attitudes and divisions within their school.

Despite the narrow outlook of the National Curriculum, no teacher should feel restricted in their ability to tackle the issue of racism in their classroom. Indeed such a perspective is clearly required to deliver the cross-curricular themes of 'education for citizenship'. What is often a problem is to find materials that can easily be used in the classroom - a problem that the YRE have recognised. Quizzes questionnaires and suggestions for 'thing to do' make these well presented materials easy to use with pupils. They will be of particular use as part of personal and social education at Key stages 3 and 4, although some sections, particularly those on the Nazis, will be useful elsewhere in the curriculum.

Schools are in a unique position not only to combat the spread of racist ideas but also to actively promote anti-racism. Through a schooi's ethos, policies and curriculum, racist attitudes can be challenged. This YRE pack will make an important contribution to that work.

Martin Powell-Davies, Lewisham NUT, Branch Secretary, (personal capacity).

 


 

Introduction for Youth and Community Workers

Youth and Community Workers should be at the forefront of the fight against racism. Many young people are disenchanted with the system, a system that gives them no hope, no employment and no benefits. Young people are an oppressed group themselves and are vulnerable to the opportunistic policies put forward by racist and fascist groups. Especially when racist immigration legislation is used to try and give the impression that this country's economic problems are the result of too many Black people entering the country.

Young people need to be shown that they have more in common with young people in Africa, Asia the Middle East or any other part of the world, than they do with those who hold the political and economic power in this country.

Racism is used by those who wish to sustain this oppressive society in order to divide and rule the working class. We must continually oppose all forms of racism and unite Black and white youth in the fight against the real enemy. That is why 1 fully commend this pack to Youth and Community Workers as an essential tool in the fight against racism.

Paul Spooner

Community and Youth Workers' Union

 


 

What the racists say

"Blacks and Asians come to our country and steal our jobs - This is a racist lie

Racist groups claim that it is possible to get rid of unemployment by stopping immigration and 'sending foreigners [usually Blacks and Asians] back where they came from'.

  • 8.1 % of the working population of Britain is officially unemployed; only 5% of the total population is Black or Asian.

  • Most immigrants to Britain are white. Around 40% of foreign-born workers in Britain are European Union nationals. Over half the people given work permits to work in Britain in 1994 were from the USA.

  • Immigration to Britain is one of the lowest in Europe - since 1981 the number of people who have been accepted for settlement in Britain has stayed at the same level: between 50,000 and 60,000 per year.

  • More people leave Britain than come in. For example, during the 1980s, 6,000 more people emigrated out of Britain than entered the country. The 1950s are the longest period this century where there have been more people entering Britain than leaving, but this only adds up to a net immigration to Britain of 12,000 over the whole 1 0 years. In 1992, 11,000 more people left Britain than entered. Today, well over 200,000 Britons live in other European Union countries.

  • It isn't immigration which causes unemployment but lack of jobs. Sharp rises in unemployment are caused by changes in the economy - usually job losses in a recession - not because more people are coming to Britain. Some of the lowest unemployment Britain has had this century was in the 1950s, when immigration into Britain was at its highest level since the Second World War.

  • Black and Asian people are more likely to be unemployed than whites, even if they are highly qualified.

  • Only one in four young Blacks leaving Youth Training schemes get jobs. This compares to one in three young disabled people and one out of two young whites.

  • One out of every five Asian shopkeepers has a university degree; they were forced to open their own small businesses due to racial discrimination by employers.

  • Black workers tend to have lower-paid and less secure jobs than their white counterparts. Even with employers who have an equal opportunities policy, Black and Asian people often find they are stuck in the lower grades with little chance of promotion.

  • Many Black and Asian people in Britain today originally came here because they were asked to come and work by the British government in the 1940s and 1950s. The British economy was expanding and the government wanted extra workers, especially in lower-paid and labouring jobs where white people often weren't prepared to work. Government officials went to the West lndies to persuade people to come and work in Britain to reduce the labour shortage. A few years later when the labour shortage was no longer a problem, the same politicians who had supported immigration to provide extra workers for industry, began to call for an end to Black and Asian immigration and use racist arguments.

 


 

 

Why do racists say these things?

It's much easier to find a simple solution to a difficult problem, even if it's the wrong one.

Unemployment, lower wages, crime and lack of affordable housing cause an enormous amount of hardship.

Many people are angry about this suffering and looking for ways to end it.

It is easier to blame Blacks and Asians than work out why inequality and discrimination exist and how to get rid of them.

By blaming Blacks, Asians and other minority groups, fascist groups can try and build support for their racist ideas and politicians can divert public anger onto someone else.

Racists and fascist groups have no answers to the social and economic problems we are facing.

Hitler blamed unemployment on Jewish bosses and claimed he could get rid of it.

In fact in Nazi Germany unemployed people were forced to work almost as slave labour building roads and producing goods for the Nazi war effort, and their names were taken off the unemployment figures. If they refused or resisted, they were arrested and sent to the concentration camps.

Fascist groups today are small and their support is very limited.

However, their ideas are dangerous and they can incite a large amount of racial violence for such a small number of people.

In the four months after British National Party member Derek Beackon was elected to the council in Tower Hamlets, the number of racist attacks in the area went up by 300%.

BNP members have been known to carry out racist attacks, but the majority of the attacks which followed Beackon's election were carried out by racists who weren't BNP members, although they were made more confident by the BNP's result.

Fortunately, the BNP has suffered a series of defeats since then.

However to stop the spread of fascist ideas it is not enough to tell people that the BNP are Nazis. You have to explain why their racist lies provide no answer to the problems of unemployment, homelessness, cuts in benefit, etc; and give people the true facts and figures.

It is in everyone's interests to see the ideas of racism and fascism defeated: if we allow them to take root without challenging them, who knows who will be scapegoated next for social or economic problems: single parents, teenagers and pensioners, many of whom fought against Hitler in the Second World War?

Black and Asian people, Jews, gay men and lesbians, and all the other groups which the Nazis target, have a massive contribution to make to society.

Many of them are held back from achieving their potential by lack of opportunity and discrimination.

The whole of society would benefit if everyone: Black, Asian or white, Jewish or Gentile, gay or straight, male or female, could live their lives as they wish without fear of violence, discrimination or repression.

 


 

Did you know?

  • Ancient Egypt, in North Africa, was the first society in the world to produce paper (papyrus). The Ancient Egyptians had a highly organised society, two versions of a written language and advanced understanding of medicine, maths, engineering, agriculture and music. Much of the knowledge of the Ancient Greeks originally came from Egypt.

  • In around 3,000 BC the Indus Valley (in modern Pakistan) was home to a prosperous economy of around 100 cities with active foreign trade. This advanced civilisation built huge temples and created a written language that still hasn't been deciphered.

  • During the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD), Chinese civilisation was more developed than European society in every field. The 5,000 kilometre Great Wall of China, which repelled invaders for centuries, was started in the third century BC; the written language still used today was established between 221-206 BC. Chinese civilisation can be traced back 5,000 years.

  • During the 11th century AD the Yoruba people, in what is now Nigeria (West Africa), lived in walled cities with broad avenues and made beautiful bronze sculptures and ceramics. They developed a democratic system of urban administration, involving locally-elected councils and mayors.

 


 

Why does racism exits today?

(Excerpt) Racism is an ideology that preaches the inferiority of one race to another. It justifies discrimination and in its extreme form, violence towards and murder of people because of their skin colour. Youth against Racism in Europe believes that these ideas haven't always existed, nor are people born racist. Rather these ideas have been created and spread for specific purposes and in a conscious way. Nasima from Tower Hamlets YRE explains.

The Beginnings

'The African slave in America was happier than in his own civilisation.'

A supporter of slavery quoted by CLR James in The Black Jacobins.

So began the great myth which justified slavery and the organised slave trade. It was a system of forced capture and removal of millions of people from Africa, to travel thousands of mi treacherous condition, third died on the way. Those who survived the journey ended up as slaves on the sugar, tea, rice and tobacco plantations in America and the Caribbean islands.

Profit was the only motive and Britain was the greatest profiteer from the slave trade. Queen Elizabeth, who ruled England from 1558 to 1603, had initially disapproved of the slave trade, fearing the 'vengeance of heaven' for what the slave traders were doing. But she was soon assisting the slave merchants by lending them her ships.

Between 1680 and 1686, two million African slaves passed through British ports on the way to America. Industries developed in Britain a result of slavery, as wealth. Cargo from the slave trade worth well over 210 million in today's prices arrived in British ports in July 1757 alone. By 1792, Liverpool handled 42% of the total European slave trade. It was wealth from the slave trade which made it possible for British industry to become the most advanced in the world by the late 19th century. Hence there was support from the rich for the existence of slavery:

'Our trade with Africa is very profitable to the nation in general ... plantations are the greatest cause of the riches of the kingdom'

Joshua Gee, British Merchant, 1729.


What you can do

 

 

1. Look in your school or local library for books or articles on historical Black and Asian figures in Britain. Discuss your findings: how easy or difficult was it to get material? Think about what you have read in this pack; do you think that there is enough material about historical Black or Asian figures and their contribution available in our libraries?

2. Collect a selection of magazines and/or newspapers. Look out for pictures or articles about Blacks and Asians. How many pictures do you find does this reflect the amount of Black and Asian people in our society? What about the articles, is there a common theme? If so, what is it?

3. Keep a week-long diary of your TV viewing. Note how many Black and Asian characters you see. Think what sort of programmes or adverts they are in. Think about what kind of characters they play. Discuss whether you think Black and Asian people are ignored or stereotyped on TV.

4. a) Imagine that it is 1950 and you have just come to Britain from the Caribbean or the Indian subcontinent. Write a letter to your family or friends back home. Maybe write about where you live or work. Tell them how you feel and how you are being treated.

b) Now imagine the present day: you are 16, Black or Asian and have lived in Britain all of your life. You are writing to someone in a foreign country who wants to know about your life as a Black or Asian person in Britain. Compare the two letters and discuss how much things have changed.