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

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