Listen to crude voice of racism

12th September 1997 at 01:00
Youth workers should face up to the challenge of working with white racist teenagers, according to new research presented to this week's annual festival of science.

Dr Roger Hewitt of the University of London said it was easier and more rewarding to tackle racism by providing extra services for ethnic minorities - such as leisure and sports facilities - than to deal directly with the white youths that were the core of the problem.

Arguing that traditional methods of addressing racism had only fuelled a new wave of racial attacks, he said that perhaps white racist youths needed to be listened to - and that their racism was a crude attempt to find a voice.

Dr Hewitt has worked extensively in the south London neighbourhood where black teenager Stephen Lawrence was murdered. He identifies white 15 to 20-year-olds as the main perpetrators of racist attacks and harassment.

But preaching to those young whites only led to a hardening of attitudes. And celebrating cultural diversity and addressing positively problems faced by white communities also alienated them.

"White pupils, to some extent, seem like cultural ghosts, haunting as mere absences the richly decorated corridors of multi-cultural society," he said.

They came from the same backgrounds as black youths - neighbourhoods of high unemployment, high crime, poor housing.

Much racist talk was "the talk of the weak, not the powerful". It expressed grievances, however unjustified. Racist youths needed to be listened to because they were "making a somewhat buried appeal to be taken seriously ... to be allowed a voice".

If youth workers failed to do that, those youths would be lost, and the causes of racial harassment would not be addressed.

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now