SRtRC caught up with Justine, one of the North East education team members about her work in schools
(pic. L-R Education workers Tina Simbo, Justine King and Annie Rutter)
"I joined Show Racism the Red Card last October, and have very much enjoyed my time here in the 9 months since that time. I have particularly enjoyed the variance in the work we do in schools. Getting to work with different ages within different localities keeps things very interesting. The subject of anti-racism itself can be a challenging issue, and so it is always interesting to see what comes up in sessions.
"There have been situations where I have been very surprised at the racist attitudes that have been expressed, with regards to their extremity. Particularly when these attitudes have been expressed by young people who have not had any contact with any people from the religious or ethnic backgrounds which they are so vocally negative about. Much of the work we do is about exploring these irrational fears and misconceptions.
"I would say that the media play a huge role in this. The racist language, from both a casual and more extreme point of view, is very much the same as you may read in headlines in the tabloid press. A lot of time sentences are used that are obviously simply being parroted back at you from what young people have heard or read, they do not necessarily even understand it themselves. This is most evident in the attitudes that are sometimes expressed towards immigrants and people of the Muslim faith. In the classroom context it is very much these two groups which people express the most negative attitudes towards. Anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment is one which time and time shows itself, and it is no coincidence that this is what we see in the media as well.
"That isn’t to say that there are problematic attitudes in every classroom. Much like society outside of school, classrooms are very much a mixture of views and opinions. I have been very impressed by some of the extremely forward thinking and progressive views expressed by young people, which makes me hopeful for the next generation and how they may feed this into society."