Racism is the discrimination or prejudice directed against people of a different race based on a belief that members of different races possess characteristics specific to their race. Enid Lee, in Beyond Heroes and Holidays, defines racism as the use of institutional power to deny or grant people and groups of people rights, respect, representation and resources based on their skin color Racism cases have been so rampant in schools, being expressed in so many forms. Some of the rampant racist expressions in schools include name-calling, exclusion, teasing, verbal abuse and even bullying. Racism can be experienced by all kinds of people in a school- students, teachers, parents, workers. Racism in schools has had negative effects to individuals, the learning environment and also the working fraternity. Racism in schools is a vice that needs to be eradicated.
Racism in schools has historically existed but it is also enhanced by discriminatory policies and practices that exist in our schools. Such discriminatory policies include ignoring incidents of racism, forming organizations that are not representative of all races in the schools, bias in discipline measures for students from different races and forcibly anglicizing students’ names.
Racism has also compromised sociability in schools. Students from different races find it difficult to establish friendship. Teachers, parents and even workers also experience the same condition. A situation occurs where people from a specific race make friends with other people from that specific race only. This creates circles of people from particular races only, which further enhances the very racism that started the circles. When people have trouble making friends from other races, sociability is compromised, hence no social growth amongst communities. Racism in schools is, therefore, a vice that needs to be eradicated.
Racism in schools has made some students to reject their own culture and parental values. When some of the students are teased and discriminated against because of their cultures, they tend to try and conform to the mainstream cultures so they abandon their own cultural and parental values and embrace the mainstream cultures with an aim of stopping the prejudice. In their book, Addressing Racism: Facilitating Cultural Competence in Mental Health and Educational Settings, Madonna G. Constantine and Derald Wing Sue state that culture abandonment leads to identity confusion; they become unsure of who and where they should be. This leads to both short term and long term social and psychological issues which affects their lives negatively. We should join forces in the fight against the racism vice in schools.
Students have been observed to adopt bad behaviours such as negative aggression and disruption as a result of racism ( Ryan, 43). Due to the hatred created among the students by the racism vice, students pick these bad behaviours and use them in the prejudice against students from other races. Cases of physical fights that result from racism cases have always been reported. Fights occur among fellow students or between students and other people from different backgrounds. Students also use abusive language against other students. This has had detrimental effects in the students’ personalities and that is why we should fight for the eradication of the racism vice in schools.
Racism has also contributed to school dropout cases. Students who are discriminated against end up hating school, and they are happier away from school. They prefer staying in the confines of their homes where they will not be prejudiced and teased. They end up dropping out from school. Their low grades caused by racism in schools also contribute in their dropping out. The dropping out is also enhanced by parents not having confidence in the school and education system. The parents, therefore, are discouraged from advising their kids to go back to school ( Jubenville, 35). School dropping out has major negative effects in the lives of the drop-outs. Most of the drop-outs end up getting frustrated in life and some even turn to crime so as to make a living. Eradicating racism in schools should be taken seriously.
Teachers have also been affected by racism. Teachers are also prejudiced either by students or by their fellow teachers. This has made them lose confidence in their ability to teach and they also lose enjoyment in teaching. These teachers don’t even want to go to work everyday and they also feel anxious and unhappy. This greatly lowers their performance levels in teaching which farther affects the students’ grades and the whole education system. This is another reason why racism in schools should be eradicated completely.
Issues have been raised over racism affecting the victims’ health negatively. The depression, anxiety and sadness caused by racism has lead to poor health for the victims. Kennedy et al observed that 1% increase in racial disrespect in a United States state was associated with an increase of 350.8 per 100,000 in “black” all cause mortality. Health surveys in the United States report a high correlation between perceived racial discrimination and hypertension, birth weight, self related health and days off sick. Studies done in the United Kingdom showed that victims of racial discrimination were more prone to anxiety, psychosis, depression, respiratory illnesses and terminal illnesses. I argue that countering racism should be considered a public health issue and should be dealt with in the seriousness it deserves.
Some optimistic minded people have tried to argue out some advantages of racism. They have argued that one can become a stronger person as a direct result of the racist experience. They have argued that this comes about because one gains more pronounced levels of resilience as a way of resisting and countering discrimination and marginalization. This argument is fallacious as racism has been proven to cause low self esteem and self doubt, which are factors that lead to a weaker person. Students, teachers or parents can not have stronger persons as a result of racism.
Racism is a very important societal vice that needs to be addressed seriously. Racism has lead to lower academic performance for racism victims. It has also compromised sociability in schools and also the teaching performance of teachers who are racism victims has reduced. Racism has also affected the health of its victims negatively. All these effects have resulted to a poorer educational sector and also weaker school-community relations. Anti-racism measures should be put into effect in schools so as to correct this situation and prevent the reoccurrence of racism cases in future.
Jubenville, John M. The Effects of Racism in Education Upon Inner-city High School Students. University of St. Thomas; College of St. Catherine, 1994, Print.
Ryan, Jim. Leading Diverse Schools. Springer, 2003, Print.
Enid Lee, “Anti-Racism Education: Pulling Together to Close the Gaps”, in Beyond Heroes and Holidays, 1998, 27, Print.
McKenzie, Kwame. “Racism and health”: antiracism is an important heath issue 11 Jan 2003: 65-66, Print.
Kennedy B, Kawachi I, Lochner K, Jones C, Prothrow-Stith D. (Dis)respect and black mortality. Ethn Dis,1997, Print.