Syrian boy moves school after bullying incident
A Guardian survey reveals the gulf in how people of different ethnicities are treated at work, by police and society at large
A 15-year-old Syrian refugee seen being pushed to the ground and having water poured on his face in a video shared on social media has said he will not return to the school where the incident took place. Footage of the attack, which occurred at a Huddersfield school on 25 October, went viral last week. Since then, fresh footage has emerged that is said to show the boy’s sister being physically abused at the same school. The boy and his family asked people not to attack the alleged bully. West Yorkshire police said a 16-year-old boy had been interviewed in connection with the incident and would be charged with assault.
Meanwhile, a record number of children in Britain are being excluded for racist bullying, a Guardian analysis has found. Last year, 4,590 cases of racial abuse among students were deemed serious enough to warrant fixed or permanent exclusion.
The extent of racial bias faced by minority ethnic citizens in 21st-century Britain has been laid bare in an unprecedented study showing a gulf in how people of different ethnicities are treated in their daily lives.
A survey for the Guardian of 1,000 people from ethnic minorities found they were consistently more likely to have faced negative everyday experiences often associated with racism than white people in a comparison poll.
The survey found that 43% of those from a minority-ethnic background had been overlooked for a work promotion in a way that felt unfair in the past five years – more than twice the proportion of white people (18%). The results found they are also three times as likely to have been thrown out of or denied entrance to a restaurant, bar or club in the past five years, and that more than two-thirds believe Britain has a problem with racism.
The ICM poll, commissioned as part of a wider investigation into bias in Britain, focuses on everyday experiences of prejudice that could be a result of “unconscious bias” – quick decisions conditioned by our backgrounds, cultural environment and experiences. It is believed to be the first major piece of UK public polling to focus on ethnic minorities’ experience of unconscious bias.
It found evidence to suggest a negative effect on the lives of Britain’s 8.5 million people from minority backgrounds that is not revealed by typical data on racism. For example: • About 38% of people from ethnic minorities said they had been wrongly suspected of shoplifting in the past five years, against 14% of white people, with black people and women in particular more likely to have been wrongly suspected. • Minorities were more than twice as likely to have suffered abuse or rudeness from a stranger in the past week. • About 53% of people from a minority background believed they had been treated differently because of their hair, clothes or appearance, compared with 29% of white people.
The Runnymede Trust, a racial equality thinktank, said the “stark” findings illustrated “everyday microaggressions” that had profound effects on Britain’s social structure.
“Racism and discrimination for BAME [black, Asian, minority ethnic] people and minority faith groups isn’t restricted to one area of life,” said Zubaida Haque, its deputy director. “If you’re not welcome in a restaurant as a guest because of the colour of your skin, you’re unlikely to get a job in the restaurant for the same reason. Structural and institutional racism is difficult to identify or prove, but it has much more far-reaching effects on people’s life chances.”
David Lammy, the Labour MP for Tottenham, called the findings upsetting. “Racial prejudice continues to weigh on the lives of black and ethnic minority people in the UK. While we all share the same hard-won rights, our lived experience and opportunity can vary,” he said. Recalling being stopped and searched when he was 12, Lammy said: “Stereotyping is not just something that happens; stereotyping is something that is felt, and it feels like sheer terror, confusion and shame.”
Half of the respondents from a minority background believed people sometimes did not realise they were treating them differently, suggesting unconscious bias, as well as more deliberate racism, influences the way millions of people are treated.
The poll found that one in eight had encountered explicitly racist language in the month before they were surveyed. It also found high levels of concern about workplace bias, with 57% feeling they had to work harder to succeed in Britain because of their ethnicity, and 40% saying they earned less or had inferior employment prospects.
The findings come a year after Theresa May published a race disparity audit identifying differences in living standards, housing, work, policing and health. The prime minister pledged to “confront these issues we have identified” but admitted: “We still have a way to go if we’re truly going to have a country that does work for everyone.”
Minority ethnic unemployment stands at 6.3%, against 3.6% for white people. Bangladeshi and Pakistani households had an average income of nearly £9,000 ($11,500) a year less than white British households in 2014-16. The gap between white and black Caribbean/black British families was £5,500.
At work 43% of minority ethnic citizens Overlooked for promotion in way that felt unfair POLICE Justice 37% Wrongly suspected of shoplifting In shops 55% Mistaken for an employee rather than a customer Going out 34% Asked to leave a club, bar or restaurant for no good reason