Tackling racial discrimination

By Emma Bird

By Faarhia

“I came from Pakistan, like 12 years ago. Although our neighbours were lovely, it was quite a rough area and racism happened a lot. I hadn’t really experienced it before that. In the park one time there was all these dogs around, and I'm really scared of dogs. This guy started shouting at me and being aggressive and when I wanted to go he set his dog on me.

It happened with younger kids just as much. Some of them used to say stuff like ‘why do you want to play with her for, she’s from Pakistan’. I was just like, ‘fine, doesn’t bother me’, but that kind of stuff can really hurts someone’s feelings and it’s not nice when you know someone thinks this or that about you. It can affect your self-esteem.

Faarhia used street interviews with the public to understand people's attitudes to racism.That’s why we chose to do our project on racism. I think it still exists and a lot of people don't really know how bad it is. They might say something and not realize how rude it is. We wanted to raise the issue, raise awareness. We wanted to make a difference. 

We needed a leader to kind of manage the whole thing. I was a bit nervous at first, but then something made me want to lead something and to manage something. So I decided to do it.

Street interviews

We decided that we needed to understand other people’s perspectives, so we started by making a film on the whole issue of racial discrimination. We came up to people on the street and asked if they had been a victim of racism and got their different perspectives on it

The interviews we filmed said a lot and we decided we had to share it, so we decided to make a presentation to show it to our school. We thought it was important for our school, because it’s very multi-cultural. The older ones in our school, sometimes they just say stuff about newcomers to our school, those who don't speak English well, things like that.  Some of us have had experiences with lots of it around the school."

While we were presenting, it was quite nerve-wracking at first. We did our presentation first and then showed them our video. We told them about what we did through Envision, with our project and everything. We invited our local MP Steven Williams, who came to listen. I think he was surprised about the fact that we still cared about racism and we are still raising awareness about it. The questions that the young people had for him, he was quite shocked. He wasn't ever a victim of racism, but he understood that we have been and still are.

Making an impact

It was amazing – cos we achieved what we wanted to and I really felt we changed people’s mind – especially in school. It’s funny, because we actually didn’t think we were going to finish it - there were so many ups and downs. Even me, I was the leader of the thing and I was thinking maybe this is not going to happen. But it did. Dee, our Envision volunteer, was so encouraging and supportive, helping us believe we could do it.

I’ve got a lot more confident now, cos I didn’t think I’d be able to do something like that. I’m really shy and stuff and I didn’t know I could do it and now I’m quite proud of myself. Things I learned doing the project are still helping me now. I applied for a job, they asked me if I'd done any kind of leadership and I told them about Envision and that I was a leader of the group and I got the job because of that."