Racism is something that injures us all. Whether you’re a victim of racism, you witness its evil, or whether you’re the villain remaining in a state of ignorance; racism hurts us all in some way.

Undoubtedly things are better for this generation; words like diversity and multiculturalism are everywhere. The convictions yesterday of Gary Dobson and David Norris for the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence showed a step towards a more just world, albeit a very belated step.

But the problem of racism remains, and some say it has evolved, as was highlighted by Paul McKenzie yesterday. In his article McKenzie claims that racism has become less overt and more subtle, stating: “Times have changed; the racism faced by my parents and their generation has gone, in its place is a ‘fog of racism’”.

In many ways this is true. Coming from a small town in Wales, this fog of racism is the kind I am most familiar with. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard, “I’m not racist, but…”. Prejudices seem to stem from ignorance of other cultures, attitudes of parents, or mindsets of blame – the classic one being that “immigrants are taking our jobs”.

In Wales, the main organisation dealing with racism is Show Racism the Red Card Wales (SRTRC), which uses sport as a means of combating the issue. Count Me In Cymru spoke to Jason Webber, a campaign worker for SRTRC about the issue of racism in Wales.

Wales overall is less multicultural than England, is racism less of a problem in Wales?
No certainly not. We see racism in primary and secondary schools across Wales, racism on the pitch, and even from parents watching games. It’s always been the case, it just doesn’t always get highlighted or sometimes just doesn’t get reported. There’s a lot of stuff that happens that people don’t realise is racism.

In Wales ‘jokey’ racism towards the English is common. Is this something we need to tackle if we are to put a stop to racism in Wales?
Yes certainly. We explain to young people that racism covers four areas: skin colour, nationality, religion or culture. What we need to be careful of is where it’s started off as a bit of banter, but ends up in someone being hurt or killed. I think unfortunately it’ll take a serious incident occurring from that sort of banter before people start really taking note of it. We teach that it is racism but unfortunately it is widely accepted.

Are there any changes you’d like to see in future on how we deal with racism in Wales?
I think working with young people is key. More needs to be done in terms of embedding racism education within the national curriculum. We did some research last year where we found that 80% of teachers actually had no training on anti-racism, so we delivered 14 anti-racism conferences to teachers and trainee teachers across Wales.

Sadly, the murder of Anuj Bidve on Boxing Day suggests overt racism still exists, though perhaps occurring in more isolated incidents. The fact that racism has generally become less acceptable, and people seek to hide their prejudice can only be a good thing. But the inherent difficulty of this cultural shift is that racism has become harder to pinpoint and uproot. Racism is no longer an ugly scar on the face of society, but an invisible cancer, spreading harm below the surface.

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Comments
  1. Becky says:

    I think the scary think about racism is that sadly it may never go away.. There’s an argument that every individual, regardless of where we are in the world, has an innate fear of the ‘other’, which can often lead to prejudice. People often use race or something noticeable about a person who is different to them as the fuel for their own fear and anxiety. I agree with Jason Webber about the need to pay attention to children as means of stamping out racism but unfortunately there is much more to do than just teaching young people about racism. What our entire society needs is interaction and education, people need to learn that the ‘other’ is not a threat and that it is something we can actually gain from.
    Subtle racism does make our world a more scary place because it is harder to challenge but I think what we need is not to be afraid of discussion. But at the moment, even the word racism makes most people run away..

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