An example of the explicit failure of Afro-Caribbean boys within the education system is documented in a report carried out by the “National Black Boys Can Association”.
The report details the GCSE results achieved across different ethnic groups for the year 2002. The findings declared only 23 per cent of Afro-Caribbean boys achieved five or more good GCSE’s, compared to the national average of 51 per cent scoring five or more good GCSE’s.Moreover, a key concern revealed by the report was the significance of Afro-Caribbean girls performing much better than Afro-Caribbean boys. The realisation of these findings highlights two key issues, firstly, gender and race are synonymous with failure and secondly, the poor GCSE results attained by Afro-Caribbean boys, will directly affect their chances of pursuing further education or employment. “On average, ethnic minorities are disadvantaged in the labour market relative to their white counterparts” (Ethnic Minorities and The Labour Market 2003).Discrimination and oppression are common features that prevent ethnic minorities from achieving professional status within the labour market. Giddens (1993) describes discrimination as an activity which serves to disqualify the members of one grouping from the opportunities available to others.
Most ethnic minorities find themselves having to take jobs that are considered unskilled and menial; conversely, ethnic minorities who manage to acquire professional status often find they are discriminated against in terms of pay and career progression.The report entitled (Ethnic Minorities and The Labour Market 2003) confirms the evidence of discrimination on grounds of race as it suggests the disparity between pay and progression cannot be attributed to different levels of education and skills. Therefore, the consequences of racism within the labour market effectively marginalise the ethnic minority workforce, creating a glass ceiling effect.Structural oppression based on class and race condemns the lives of many ethnic minority groups, Giddens (1993) suggests the decaying environment of inner cities exacerbates the link between race, unemployment and crime.
The relationship between high levels of unemployment and crime provides an explanation, to why ethnic minorities over-represent the prison population. Statistics quoted in the media, suggest ethnic minorities account for more than 20 per cent of the United Kingdom prison population, a startling figure considering only 5. 5 per cent of the total population comprises of ethnic minorities.
This stark revelation prompts fear that the criminal justice system is racially biased, the disproportionate figures indicated above, suggest the United Kingdom is creating an ethnic underclass, excluded from jobs and education. The effects of social exclusion and marginalisation reveal a myriad of disadvantage and suffering, experienced by ethnic minorities by virtue of their colour, culture and identity. The physical and mental suffering endured by ethnic minorities profoundly influences their attitudes and subsequently their behaviour towards society.Incidents of racial abuse in a physical or verbal form commonly take place within many social settings. A report published by Foundations (2000) cited all minority ethnic groups are victims of racism, particularly where families are isolated and removed from familiar networks.
Furthermore, the report highlights the lack of social support from agencies and the severe constraints inflicted upon their lives. Perhaps the most explicit example of racial brutality was the murder of the black teenager Stephen Lawrence.The racist killing of Stephen Lawrence emphasises the distress many ethnic minorities encounter, internalising racial oppression often results in ethnic minority groups isolating themselves away from mainstream society (Foundations 2000). Feeling devalued and obsolete renders many ethnic minorities vulnerable to mental illness; Phillipson (2003) suggests mental health problems associated with elderly ethnic minorities are a product of racism and cultural pressures. What can Professionals do to Combat Racism?Recently, government officials have realised the two tier state that has been emerging within society, former British Foreign Office Minister Peter Hain warned “… the UK is in danger of creating a black underclass similar to that of South Africa” (Racism in England, date not known).
Initiatives have been implemented to counter the effects of racism with particular attention focused on social exclusion. Changes in legislation have led to an amendment of the Race Relations Act 1976, now known as the Race Relations Act 2000, placing obligations on institutions to promote anti-discrimination and equal opportunity policies.However, I feel the utilitarian approach by the government, seeking to promote social justice, fails to recognise the intricate nature of racism and the affect it has on specific minority ethnic groups. Banks states “institutional policies stating everyone will be treated equally irrespective of race, gender, religion, etc; are examples of the concept known as the colour blind approach. ” (Banks 2002:58) Moreover, Thompson (2002) describes the colour blind approach, as building a false premise, upon which the needs of specific races are generalised.Challenging structural oppression is essential if professionals intend to promote an equitable service, eradicating the effects of racism within local authority departments, requires professionals to promote the rights and individual needs of ethnic minority groups (GSCC Codes of Conduct 2002). Accordingly, since professionals interact within a diverse community a number of factors have to be considered.
Firstly, professionals must value the diversity of each individual belonging to an ethnic minority group, understanding the importance of culture and identity.Secondly, professionals must make provisions and services more accessible to ethnic minority groups, providing information and challenging procedures that exacerbate discrimination. Finally, professionals need to consider the role of ethnic minorities within society, promoting self determination and encouraging ethnic minorities to set their own agenda’s, could result in more life chances and in turn greater equality.
In conclusion, it can be argued that the corrosive nature of racism, acts as a catalyst condemning the lives of minority ethnic groups.Poverty, deprivation and disadvantage are all variables associated with the effects of racism, marginalising and isolating ethnic minority groups onto the peripheries of society. However, challenging social inequality and promoting anti-discriminatory practice can contribute towards a fairer and more equal society. Furthermore, if greater equality is to be achieved across service provision, then professionals need to recognise and understand the diverse needs and rights of ethnic minority groups.