Being Black in a British High School (Alicia Ward, Davison High School)

It would be a lie to say that pupils in general do not suffer, but mention is made of the experience of black people in British secondary schools. There are many reasons why it is different and much more difficult. From lack of representation to bullying, this experience is unique.

When I speak about the experience of black people in West Sussex I will put this into perspective. According to the 2020 Census, 88.8% of West Sussex’s population is White. If we put this in a state-sponsored secondary school class, the average student enrollment is 26.7, meaning only 3 of them will be colorful, so one can only imagine the feeling of being an outsider.

Now let’s turn away from facts and opinions. I asked a fellow student; who is half Filipino and half Zimbabwean and asked them how they feel about being black in their school when only 15% of the students are people of colour.

“I feel like I will always have time to reach out to my white peers. I feel nervous about fighting bad things. I feel like I have to step down.” Sheldon Nyamayaro, student.

In 2020, as protests hit an all-time high, speaking out against racism and the killing of George Floyd became a budgetary issue that had never been spoken about before. People started talking more openly about these hard talks, attitudes have changed. But as we know, when drastic change occurs, hate crime increases. Police of England and Wales report that 74% of all hate crimes in 2020-2021 were racially motivated, a 12% increase on previous years.

Tough times for marginalized groups and young people of color require support. Davison High School created the Justice and Diversity Group, which is about celebrating all people without feeling judged. Groups like this have popped up across the country. They have difficult conversations about their institutions or even larger issues that require change on a global scale.

As the world becomes more open to racism in school settings, we are becoming even more aware of Britain’s education gaps. YMCA reports that 95% of Blacks hear racially motivated language in schools and that 50% of Blacks believe that teacher perception is the biggest barrier (e.g., being perceived as “angry” or “aggressive”). When someone is misperceived in this way, we see that students are unable to be their true selves and express their creativity in the classroom environment.

We still wonder if anything will change and if people will learn from past misdeeds. Students, teachers, or anyone else who sees something wrong must speak up to help students and educate themselves. Being Black in a British High School (Alicia Ward, Davison High School)

Fry Electronics Team

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