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:
- ‘George Floyd: Five factors behind the UK Black Lives Matter protests’ – BBC News
- ‘Britain needs leadership on race inequality. Not just another review’ by David Lammy – The Guardian
- ‘How the UK publishing industry has responded to Black Lives Matter’ – New Statesman
- ‘If Black Lives Matter, why am I losing long time white friends who refuse to acknowledge my suffering?’ – Independent
- ‘Britain Celebrates ‘Windrush Day’ amid Broader Reckoning on Race’ – Time (not strictly #BLM but I think if you are talking about #BLM in a British context reference to Windrush is useful)
- Joseph Harker writes in his article “Black Lives Matter” risks becoming an empty slogan, It’s not enough to defeat racism. 11.06.20
“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
- 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.
- Stands up for issues even though they might not directly affect them.
- Recognises their privilege and aims to use this in their efforts to stand up for those without it.
- 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.
- 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.
Answering your questions
Our students have asked us the following questions: