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Youth standing up to racism

March 21, 2021 7:00 AM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

This year, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimnation focuses on youth standing up to racism. I am proud that the Young Liberals, the youth and student wing of the Liberal Democrats, are working to tackle racial discrimination in all of its forms.

Education is a vital tool in the fight against racial discrimination. But there is much more that we need to do."

I recall my first taste of racial discrimination. I was eighteen back then and it was my first year in this country. I was bullied by some local boys from the other classes. They laughed at me, and mimicked my spoken Cantonese as I was talking to my Hong Kong classmates with my first language.

My colleague, a fellow Young Liberals executive member, recently had a racial slur and racist abuse shouted at her on a train.

As much as we would like to think that racial discrimination has been eliminated in countries like the UK, it hasn't been. In fact, it might be getting worse.

Racist hate crimes spiked in the wake of the 2016 Brexit vote. The Government's nationalist, xenophobic rhetoric has whipped up hate against minority ethnic individuals living in the UK. And in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, anti-Black racism has been exposed in all areas of British life.

It is up to our generation to do something. The UN is calling for education to be used to tackle racism, so that people grow up understanding more about those who come from different religious and racial backgrounds. I am not convinced that anyone is born racist, and I do believe that education is a vital tool in the fight against racial discrimination.

But there is much more that we need to do. At our recent Winter Conference, the Young Liberals passed motions tackling issues from systemic racism in the police force, to the Black award gap at universities, to the way that the Government talks about and addresses the needs of minority ethnic groups.

There is a long way to go. But I believe that, with the right tools, support, and education, young people can lead the fight against racial discrimination.