SRtRC Wales caught up with a pupil who overcame racist bullying thanks to our support
“I strongly feel that SRtRC are needed in every Primary School across Wales. The most important thing for schools is getting an organisation like SRtRC in to educate the young people and teachers on the dangerous effects of racism. It can change young people’s lives- I have seen it with my own eyes and have experienced the effects it can have. The most positive thing about the SRtRC experience has been Hannah’s increase in confidence. Hannah went into the bottom sets in school and came out with lower grades than what she was capable of. The SRtRC workshop definitely made a huge difference – she became more confident, has worked her way up, and her grades have improved massively”
Paulette Roberts, mother of Hannah Roberts
Sunil Patel, Campaign Manager
At a time when racism has been back in the dock, it was encouraging to meet up with a young girl from Cardiff, who was a victim of racism a few years ago. She has now overcome this abuse after receiving support from Show Racism the Red Card.
I recall the phone call I received from Paulette Roberts and within the first few sentences, I knew from her nervous tone she needed help. Her daughter Hannah was 10 years old at the time and was victim of some disturbing racist bullying at a Cardiff school, which had been lowering her self-esteem and confidence from just 7 years old. The family went seeking support from the school, but sadly had no success. It was only then, and as a last resort that Paulette contacted SRtRC.
Leroy and I still recall the workshop and more notably what occurred at the end, as two young pupils came to the front, admitted they had been racist and wanted to apologise. Little did we know that it was others who had been more racist towards Hannah and this was an issue the school were not dealing with at that time.
This week we caught up with Hannah who recalled the tormented primary school years that affected her so much...
Can you tell us a little about the racist bullying you went through when you were in Primary School?
I was racially bullied from years 3-5 in Primary School. I would be called names like ‘turd’ and ‘poo’ a lot, it was really upsetting. I remember being in the school canteen with other pupils calling me poo and laughing at me. One girl said, “When you are older you are gunna have black babies with massive afro’s” – they found it funny, but it wasn’t funny for me.
Were you the only one to be bullied in your school because of your skin colour?
I was the only girl with darker skin in my class so I was picked on because of this. Apart from another boy who was Asian, everyone else was white. He was bullied at times as well. People would say, “Are you brother and sister?” and “You will have to get married when you are older because you both have brown skin”.
How did all this affect you in school?
It definitely affected my education. When people are being racist to you, it’s all you can think about. It’s really hard to concentrate on learning in school when it’s constantly on your mind.
Did you tell your teacher about the bullying you were going through and if so, what did they do?
I did tell the teachers about it, but they didn’t really help. One time I was so upset and in tears, I knew I had to tell the Head Mistress what was happening. She just called the girl in and told her to stop calling me names, but it didn’t make her stop. She didn’t understand how upset it was making me feel. We didn’t learn about racism, or really do any work on people from different backgrounds in school. If we had then maybe the girl wouldn’t have been so nasty to me.
How did our workshop help you and the other pupils? Has it changed your life in a positive way?
Definitely - I am much more confident with myself now and I feel I can handle it better when people are racist to me. Because we were not educated on racism in school, it did make me question myself. I mean, I obviously knew I was not poo – but the other pupils made me feel like it was better to be white. There was one girl in particular who was nasty to me in school. Since the workshop she has not said anything racist to me, we have Maths together and are now friends.
What advice would you give someone who was being racially bullied?
I would say it’s better to get it out than keep it in – tell someone. If you keep it to yourself it makes you feel really upset. No-one can help you if you don’t tell anyone. I told my mum and she got in touch with Show Racism the Red Card who really helped change things for me.
What would you tell someone who was racially bullying another person?
I would say to stop doing it. You shouldn’t judge someone on their looks – you should get to know them and then judge them on their personality. Just because people may have the same colour skin as each other, it doesn’t mean they are the same. I don’t think they would bully anyone if they knew how it felt.
“Our own research has shown 90% of teachers in Wales are not comfortable with dealing with racism due to a lack of training and knowledge, also, far too often we come across schools having the attitude that it’s not a priority for them due to the lack of diversity in their local communities. In the school Hannah attended, the number of non-white pupils could be counted on one hand. It is pleasing that the school has made progress over the years and there have been positive changes that in turn will benefit the pupils in years to come.”
Sunil Patel, Campaign Manager