Show Racism the Red Card Scotland delivered our Refugees, Stereotypes and Prejudice workshops at James Gillespie Primary School yesterday, working with 63 young people to promote the inclusion of young Refugees who have recently resettled in Scotland.
Education workshops include:
· Activities exploring stereotypes and prejudice, and how these impact on racism.
· Information to break down stereotypes and misconceptions about those who live, work or study out with their country of birth.
· A clear definition of racism.
· A personal testimony from a resettled Refugee to demonstrate the impact of inequality and create empathy and compassion for those who have been forced from their country of birth.
· Activities and information about the correct terminology to use when discussing race, ethnicity and immigration, and the importance of taking the time to familiarise ourselves with these.
· Activities exploring how racism can escalate if left unchallenged, stressing the need to deal with all incidents of prejudice appropriately.
Our current education work is guided by McBride’s (2015) research on ‘What works to reduce prejudice’ and on contact theory whereby being introduced to individuals who belong to different heterogeneous groups reduces prejudicial attitudes. The power of this programme lays in the education work being developed by our team of experts as well as a resettled Refugee who shares their story of having to flee their home and seek asylum in the UK, finally making Scotland their home with young people who then have the opportunity to ask questions and have discussions. You can read this powerful story below.
We are abundantly grateful to the Robertson Trust, Unite the Union, the Education Institute of Scotland as well as Thompson’s Solicitors Scotland for funding this vitally important programme of education.
“Zimbabwe. April 1980. The country gained its independence from Britain. Robert Mugabe was appointed the president, replacing years of British rule. I was born in 1981. I spent the large part of my formative years attending beautiful schools and grew up hoping I could one day, be a pilot. We had a lovely house and my grandparents had a farm. On that farm we had cows for dairy and meat, goats and sheep. We also farmed for crops like maize, the staple food in Zimbabwe, oranges and many others fruits and vegetables.
I always enjoyed going to the farm during the school holidays, so can help out. I also enjoyed going to the farm because my grandfather would let me ride on the tractor whilst he was working.
Back in the city, I loved spending time with my friends, some of whom were from different races and backgrounds. I enjoyed playing sports such as football, tennis and cricket. This enabled myself to meet and make other friends and learnt a lot from them and my sports improved, I ended up joining a sports club. The happiest day of my life was when my grandparents bought me my first cricket bat. At the cricket club, we had coaches who had come over from England and I spent a lot of time with them improving my skills.
Then in 1998, the ruling party of ZANU PF led by Robert Mugabe started evicting white farmers from their land and taking over their farms. Unfortunately, ours was one of the farms that was taken over and a lot of people that worked on our farm lost their jobs and livelihood. My grandparents lost everything they had ever built on that farm and were never compensated for their loss.
Despite many protestations, the situation had turned violent and other farmers and their employees were killed by thugs from ZANU PF. The situation escalated into the towns and cities across the country. The secret service police and army became heavily involved in intimidating innocent citizens and many lives were lost solely because some people supported and were deemed to have voted for MDC, the opposition party in elections.
At my sports club, which was largely frequented by white people, the police came and told me and other boys to stop playing with white people. This was rather frustrating because I had made lots of friends and if we didn’t take their threats seriously, they’d arrest us and put us into jail for befriending white people amongst other things.
Then one night, the state police visited my house and I became very scared and my grandparents suggested that it was best that I left the country and go into hiding because Zimbabwe was no longer safe.
They hastily arranged for my flights out of the Zimbabwe and I didn’t even have time to say goodbye to all my friends, family and girlfriend. I couldn’t even pack all of my clothes – I left my favourite Liverpool FC shirt behind. I had to take whatever I could and get out of the country. When I arrived in the UK, I stayed with my other grandmother. I didn’t have any friends, I couldn’t work because as an asylum seeker, the UK authorities have to process your case and this is a lengthy process. I wasn’t even allowed to open a free bank account.
I was fortunate, due to my love of sport to be able to go to the local park and play football – that’s how I started making friends. Even though I knew I was safe in the UK, I kept looking behind me to see if anyone was following me from the Zimbabwe state police or the secret service. I always wanted to go back to Zimbabwe and see my friends and family that I left behind, but the situation isn’t safe and especially having left 15 years ago.
ZANU PF and Robert Mugabe have strengthened their grip on the country even furthermore.”