Being black in a British high school-can it improve?(Alicia Ward,Davison High School)
It would be a lie to say that students in general do not suffer but, the black experience in British secondary schools get mentioned. There are many reasons why it is different and much more difficult. From lack of representation, to bullying this experience is a unique one.
When talking about the black experience in West Sussex I am going to put this into perspective. According to the 2020 census 88.8% of the West Sussex population is white. If we put this in a state funded secondary school class, the average number of pupils is 26.7 meaning that only 3 of them will be of colour, so one can only imagine the feeling of being and outsider.
Now let us turn our heads away from the facts and opinions. I have asked a fellow student; who is half Filipino and half Zimbabwean and asked them about how they feel being black in their school with only 15% of students being people of colour.
“I feel as though there will always be time I will have to appeal towards my white peers. I feel nervous to speak up against bad things. I have this feeling that I must step down” Sheldon Nyamayaro, Student.
In 2020, when protests were at an all-time high, speaking up against racism and the killing of George Floyd became a household topic that had never been spoken of in the same way before. People started talking about these hard conversations in a more open way, attitudes have changed. But as we know when drastic change happens, hate crime rises. Police of England and Wales report 74% of all the hate crimes in 2020-2021 where racially motivated, increasing by 12% compared to years before.
Hard times for marginalized groups and young people of colour meant support is needed. At Davison High School the Equity and Diversity group was launched which involves celebrating all people without the feeling of being judged. Groups like this have started to appear across the country. They tackle hard conversations about their institutions or even bigger problems that need a change on a global scale.
As the world becomes more open about racism in school institutions, we become even more aware of British education flaws. YMCA reports that 95% of black people hear racially motivated language in schools and that 50% of black people believe that the teacher's perception of them is the biggest barrier (for example being perceived as ‘angry’ or ‘aggressive’). When someone is wrongly perceived in this way, we see that students can't be their true self and express creativity in the class environment.
We still wonder if there will be change and if people will learn from past wrongdoings. Students, teachers or anyone else that sees something that is wrong must speak up to help students and further educate themselves.