Tackle racism for children's sake

24th September 2004 at 01:00
I recently attended a vigil in Swansea for Kalan Kawa Karim, a Kurdish victim of what the police describe as an "isolated incident" of the ultimate act of racism - murder.

The following day I marked assignments of teachers on an MA programme who interviewed hundreds of children about racism in school and on the street.

The evidence is overwhelming: racism is part of the very fabric of our society.

It is time we accepted that Britain is irreversibly multicultural. The majority of our ethnic-minority community children were born here - Britain is their home. Imagine applying the commonly expressed view that "they" should "go back where they come from" to all those descendents of British settlers to the Americas, and Antipodes, not to mention the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

None of us can say "there's no problem here". Schools must prepare children for our multiethnic society and that doesn't mean just celebrating Eid or Diwali alongside Easter and Christmas, it means helping children to challenge racism.

Such a duty is enshrined in law through the Race Relations Amendment Act, but unless teachers support it, it will not happen. Kalan joins a growing list of people who are the victims of racist attacks. For the sake of all our children, we must learn to live together.

Dr Sue Lyle Swansea institute of higher education Townhill Road, Swansea

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