Anti-Racist Awareness & Monitoring Project
The Anti-Racist Awareness and Monitoring Project (ARAMP) was an extraordinary project. It was the first ever initiative in Edinburgh that used forum theatre, poetry writing, video production, poster and card making, storytelling, anti-racist workshop, African music and photography all in one as tools in anti-racist work with children and young people. At least one hundred and forty children participated in the project from Royston and Granton Primary Schools and twenty-two secondary students from Broughton High School, belonging to three different youth groups in the Royston Wardieburn Granton areas and Pilton.
The ARAMP was the culminating event in a series of meetings, workshops and work sessions convened and organized by the BCDP, Pilton Partnership and the working group for over six months. This report summarises children and young peoples’ participation in the different activities set out by the working group at the ARAMP finale on 24 November 2000.
Why Anti-Racist Awareness and Monitoring Project?
The Black Community Development Project (BCDP) has been in receipt of reported racial abuse and harassment from the Black and minority ethnic population in North Edinburgh since its establishment in 1995. However, in 1999 it was very evident that most of the reported incidents received by the BCDP were from Black parents residing in the Royston, Granton and Wardieburn areas. These parents stated that white children in the neighbourhood were racially abusing their children, on their way to and from the school and even on the school campus. For example, a Black boy of ten had a knife stuck to his throat and was verbally abused by a white boy in the school campus during break time, several mixed race girls were called ‘chocolate mars bars’, ‘paki’ and were ‘spat at’ and their ‘hair pulled’ by these children. A Black girl of eight was shot with a pellet gun in the leg last summer by a boy who goes to the same school.
As a result, these children who are being abused are taken to and picked up from school by their parents to protect them from further racial abuse/assault by these young people. At the same time, other black children were being deprived of play in the park, access to other local services and their spaces in the community because of racism. Due to the severity of the problem the issue was first raised with the school head teachers concerned and then to the local Community Safety Working Group chaired by Cllr. Maginnis. It was at this level that the BCDP and the Pilton Partnership agreed to draw up a proposal to address the problem in the above-mentioned areas.
The BCDP and the Pilton Partnership have set up an Anti-Racist Awareness & Monitoring Project (ARAMP) in the Royston, Granton and Wardieburn areas by putting the many varied experiences of black people centre stage using drama, video production, anti-racist workshops, photography, music, storytelling, poetry and arts as tools in race awareness amongst the children and young people in the community. This initiative was a pioneering pilot project in Edinburgh; it ran for six months to maximise the impact of anti-racist work in schools and the community and to raise the awareness of children, young people and adults with racist ideologies and beliefs.
The various activities set out by the working group was a very good starting point to enable people to understand the roots and causes of racism that are embedded and deeply rooted in our society.
Finally, as this is a huge task to be tackled by two organisations, the author of this report strongly believes that a meaningful partnership approach, which involves local residents and projects, is pertinent.
In the background information, it has been outlined that black children are racially abused and physically assaulted, and they are excluded from play activities not only by white children and young people but also by the system. Therefore as practitioners (community development workers, activists and service providers), it is very important that we stop children from behaving in a racist way and by looking at our own practice and understanding and how we challenge racism and racist behaviour in our work places, in communities and in society as a whole; we can begin to change institutional cultures for everybody. Good anti-racist practice based on respect for individuals and communities and concern for anti-discrimination, needs to become embedded as a norm in our community (society). If practitioners do nothing, they will continue to be part of the problem because they are supporting the oppressive status quo.
It is vital that children with racist attitudes are helped to recognize the pain that racism inflicts on adults, children and young people and also how to challenge racism. If racist taunts, exclusion and physical abuse are allowed to pass unchallenged, such behaviour is likely to be regarded as acceptable. So if racist incidents occur, practitioners are obliged to inform parents of the perpetrators what happened, to stress the seriousness of their actions and to point out that such behaviour is damaging and wrong and that it is against the law.
- The ARAMP anti-racist framework should be incorporated into the North Edinburgh Anti-Racist Strategy and employed on an annual basis in selected parts of the community.
- The City of Edinburgh Council should embody anti-racism by:
- Incorporating anti-racist education in the educational curriculum.
- Expand the AISHA Teaching Support Pack to include specific material for different age groups.
- Promoting positive images and contributions of black people in schools, different youth clubs and organizations/agencies.
- Providing on going staff and management committee members training on anti-racism and equalities issues. The different needs of black and white staff need to be taken into account.
- Time needs to be routinely set aside for monitoring and assessing day to day activities and experiences provided for children and young people.
- All services need to have a comprehensive Equal Opportunities Policy that should be developed by staff and parents for easy implementation and ownership of the document.
- Collaborative and partnership working must be encouraged and promoted in addressing equality issues in our community.
- Everyone and not just those who are working in the field of equality must challenge racism and in-equality.
- It must be recognized that any intervention in an area like Royston, Wardieburn and Granton that has been economically, politically and culturally oppressed has to be handled sensitively. Such a community that has genuine grievances about the way it is perceived and treated must be treated with respect.