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Rights or Racism?

Are we subconsciously excluding ethnic minorities?

Well, the answer is simply yes! All research points to the mindset of a discriminative society that segregates ethnic minorities potentially without even realising it. But is it a shock? Not necessarily. Seeing political battles and hate crimes on the news each day makes us immune and almost blind to the severity of worldwide racism and negative judgement that disrupts ethnic minorities’ lives on a daily basis.

A shocking unseen divide between races in society is uncovered within the accommodation and living conditions of these ethnic minorities. According to Guy Palmer (2012), almost ½ of all ethnic minority children live in low-income households, as against ¼ of white children. These lower-income households are more likely to experience poorer living standards and issues within the home—for example, space or sufficient appliances/furniture to house the family itself. A research study completed by The Think Tank found that a typical black African family earned £5,600 less than that of a white household, showing a significant difference in financial provisions for the home. Further proof into this clear divide in society is within John Rex’s study in 1986 which showed in housing, ethnic minorities are more likely to be forced into substandard housing than white people of the same class. Granted this research was slightly before my time, it still has relevance as ethnic minority households are also said (Guy Palmer 2012) to be three times more likely to become homeless. This lower standard housing or no housing at all shows the "pushed aside" treatment of those in ethnic minorities, even against the same class of white people, and this is happening right as you read this.

Homelessness in England has definitively increased from 2010 to 2017, showing that there is not a region in the country that does not have a number of people sleeping rough; this will, of course, including ethnic minorities. In 2017, Homeless Link found there were 4751 people sleeping rough throughout England, which is a 15% increase from 2016. The Shadow housing minister says homelessness rose 54% overall among black and Asian households, respectively, compared with 7% in general population. The clear race divide in housing situations is growing. The families affected by poor housing and homelessness will experience further issues due to inadequate sanitation and lack of a substantial source of nutrition. The increase in risk for ethnic minorities being excluded to substandard housing or no housing at all shows the constant battle they share in fear of not having a roof over their heads. However, this fear may be decreased as more affordable housing and homeless shelters are being built by various charities such as The Big Issue Foundation and Depaul UK. However, this may not and isn’t enough to tackle the growing issue of homelessness in England. Furthermore, this housing crisis will most likely include families with a child or children, and this will impact their younger life and the parents’ responsibilities to care for more than themselves. These children living in these conditions may also be at a disadvantage as they may not have the funding for school equipment or the space to do the work set from school; this infers that poverty and low-income families are put at an instant disadvantage in education as they do not have the resources to support their child’s/children’s learning. This inability to afford the goods needed for education, which are otherwise known as a necessity, is known as material deprivation and this affects any low-income household—showing the breadth of this issue. However, it isn’t going entirely unnoticed. In early 2011, The Secretary of State announced a £180 million scheme—the Bursary—to help the most disadvantaged 16- to 19-year-olds in schools, providing funding for travel, equipment and meals to help fulfil their educational needs, and aid them in achieving the best grades they can, even when supposedly at a disadvantage in society due to their household income. This scheme provides for those who request the help, but this may leave children who are too nervous or do not know about the system unable to access the financial support they may need. The lack of a fully experienced education may leave these students at a loss in later life within career finding and job applying.

Housing standards and accessibility isn’t the only discriminative sector of society, the job industry has shown aspects of racial and cultural discrimination, leaving some of the ethnic minority unemployed. Guy Palmer (2012) found that almost ½ of Bangladeshi and Pakistani workers earned under £7 per hour, compared to ¼ of white British workers. In 2012, the minimum wage was £6.19, meaning that a vast majority of those ethnic minorities were working for no more than minimum wage, which, compared to white British workers, wasn’t as much of an issue as the majority of them were getting paid more than enough. This starts to show a glimpse of racism and segregation in the workplace. Furthermore, a study from Wood et al (2010) showed employers may be picking white British workers on purpose or by the natural gravitation towards them. The experiment included sending three closely matched job applications to almost 1000 job vacancies. For each job, one application was a "white person" and the two others were given names associated with particular ethnic groups. They found that only 1 in 16 ethnic minority applications were offered an interview compared to 1 in 9 white applicants. This supports the research by Guy Palmer in which states ethnic minorities are almost twice as likely to be unemployed compared with white people and suggests that it may not only be by chance that ethnic minorities are more likely to unemployed. This may make you think about why this occurs, and why white employers are more likely to choose white employees over the ethnic minority, even if both individuals had the same qualifications. The factor of unemployment may link to the low income of families, which then has a knock on effect to the children and their funding for educational needs, thus circling back to material deprivation and the effect on their future. The high risk of unemployment in the ethnic minorities creates an unavoidable danger of homelessness and being unable to provide for any significant others they may have in their lives. But why are the ethnic minorities more at risk of unemployment? There are several suspected reasons why ethnic minorities are at a greater risk of unemployment, which all entail separate issues within themselves. Many individuals from ethnic minorities live in economically depressed areas with high unemployment and low wage rates, which means they may have to travel a great distance to work or will not earn enough to cover living costs. Economically depressed places many be remote or too overcrowded so either way the minorities are competing for jobs that aren’t necessarily well paid but jobs that they may need desperately to support their families and themselves through everyday life. Cultural factors such as the tradition of purdah in some Muslim households prevents women from working outside the home which creates an issue of unemployment for the female side of the family, leaving the male as the sole earner or the "breadwinner." This female unemployment is proven by a BBC news report from August 2017 that stated in white households, 72% of women were employed but in Pakistani and Bangladeshi households the rate was almost half this at 37% and 35%. This could either down the decision within their religion or the factor of the female caring for children, which then puts pressure on the male to earn even though the income may not be sufficient to provide for everyone. The unemployment of around 64% of women in ethnic minorities shows a concerning difference between those of the white individuals being unemployed: 28%. This female unemployment will contribute to the low-income family sector and, again, rotate back round to the children’s lives being affected. Another reason why unemployment is so high in the ethnic minorities is that asylum seekers may not be allowed to work in the UK, which creates a severe issue for them even though they have left their home country due to war or politics, hoping to find a better life elsewhere. This is seconded by the unrecognised foreign qualifications of refugees who want to work in the UK. These reasons both suggest that even though these individuals may have experienced a tough life before reaching the UK, they will still not be able to manage alone within the employment sector, which will affect where they will live, what they may eat and how they provide for family members too young to work for themselves. This isn’t necessarily the UK employers fault as if they cannot understand their language nor their qualifications, they may not be suitable for the job they have applied for, but there should be a wider variety of jobs available for people who have come to the UK seeking protection and safety from issues in their own country. Overall, the difference in wages, unemployment, and employer’s employees shows there is a crack in the job sector of the UK and that racism exists beyond the words spoken in public or actions committed to offend another ethnic group. The discrimination and segregation lie beneath the economical side of life, affecting people in more ways than one. Providing for yourself and your family is a necessity to living, yet some of these people may be unable to do so through the fact they are discarded or simply ignored by employers.

In the wider perspective of society as a whole, racism is a subtle part of everyday life, even though we may not notice it. Our immediate views of that specific person on the bus or a person wearing a different type of clothing are shaped by the way we have been socialised in society and the world around us. As we develop an opinion of our own at around a very young age, we will grow to make judgements and certain views that centre on the ethnic minorities in our society and the different cultures we may encounter. David Mason stated in 2000 that “discrimination is a continuing and persistent feature of the experience of Britain’s citizens of minority ethnic origin.” This suggests that racism is a constant struggle for the ethnic minority as it is integrated into our everyday lives. However, it may not necessarily be our fault that we subtly act a certain way towards ethnic minorities or that we have certain opinions on them. Specific factors influence our opinions and conversations on certain groups or cultures, such as the media, news and television. But can the media subconsciously induce racism? One research written about by Kat Saxon in 2010 studied how viewers were affected by nonverbal behaviour in 11 popular television shows, such as CSI: Miami. Some characters on these shows displayed more negative nonverbal acts toward African-American characters than toward white characters. Exposure to pro-white nonverbal behaviour increased racial bias among viewers, as determined by a test that measures unconscious biases, even though viewers did not report noticing patterns of biased behaviour on TV. This study suggests that subtle nonverbal behaviour on TV can influence racial bias in the real world and that the viewing population do not realise the change in their own actions due to these TV shows. Interestingly, this could suggest as the younger generation watch more television than ever before, they are introduced to racist actions from a young age, creating a growth of discriminatory behaviour. Oppositely, it could be noticed as a racial bias and argued against by the more aware and open-minded young audience. It is not only television shows that may influence our opinions on different cultures, newspaper articles, just like this one, have those big bold letters that state the day’s news and what it is all about. However, the potential of a racially insulting headline is a possible risk in today’s society. The Daily Express has produced some papers with extreme racially bias headlines printed on the front such as “One in five Britons will be ethnics” in 2010 and “Muslim schools ban our culture” in 2009. These headlines may cause a foundation of discussion in people who may read these reports, and mould their views into a certain sense that may become negative upon the minorities. There is a broad spectrum of opinions upon the ethnic minorities in Britain, and you would hope the majority are positive and welcoming. However, this is not the case as the older generations are known to have strictly negative opposing views of the ethnic minorities living in the UK and this has been backed up with various studies. This factor can be generalised as generational racism. One study written about by Charles Kenny in May 2017 found that young people overall are significantly less likely to say they did not want to live next to people of another race than old people in the last World Values Survey with 14% of those under 30 compared to 31% of those above the age of 50 saying they would feel uncomfortable in that situation. This entirely suggests that the younger generations are becoming more welcoming and less bothered about the movement of ethnic minorities into their communities. It also shows that older people are still more susceptible to a racially discriminative view of specific cultures. Furthermore, Dr Steve Taylor stated his theory as being “When you think of death it creates a fear, and one way of reacting to that anxiety is to cling to identity, to try and gain a sense of belonging, or even a sense of protection. There's just a general feeling of anxiety in the air that creates this need for identity and belonging, and this need to demonise other groups.” This infers that due to the age of the older people, they wish to keep a sense of identity by hating a certain group of people. Their prejudices’ can also be shared with others, creating a mass base for negative racist views. Psychologists claim that with old ages comes insecurities and self-hatred; this self-loathing is then projected onto minority groups (for example, homosexuals, people of different religions or cultures) as a way of coping with the emotions. This would explain why the older generations are more notorious for being more prone to racism. These opinions, views and thoughts moulded by age, media and our upbringing all influence the way we treat others in our society. If racial discrimination is brought into schools by children with extreme negative views, there may be a violent outcome or a bullying instance that may result in the ethnic minorities being at the receiving end. This will greatly impact their education as they may not want to face the upsetting, isolating social times or the comments that may be spoken by other students. If they do not enjoy attending school, there will be a repercussion on their grades, suffering from low motivation and lack of worth ethic. This negative outlook on ethnic minorities is gradually deteriorating; however, it cannot be reintroduced through the media or television as within a technologically centred society, which is all the younger generations will know.

Overlooking the abomination of discrimination produced by the nation and us within the public shows that it isn’t necessarily intentional in some circumstances, however, it can always be prevented and stopped within the firing line of racism and separation from the supposed “norms” of individuals in society. The real question to be asked is why is the derogatory phrase "ethnic minorities" used so commonly (even multiple times within this article), yet it describes a segregated group different to the main population, supposedly inferring that the difference in the race has a negative isolating impact. But what do we use instead of this expression? The phrase shows subgroups being labelled or identified by their origins and categorised as the "other" in a predominantly white society. Have you ever used this term? If so, why did you not think of what it really means?

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