I have been thinking the same thing for the last twenty-four hours. I live close to London, and yesterday as every Sunday, I went for a walk with my girlfriend in a very beautiful park close to my home.
I love going there. After spending a week working in my small office I need to relax. ‘I need the contact with the ground’ I always say… I love walking and getting lost in my thoughts. I love forgetting for a while who I am and just relaxing.
But this Sunday was different. I was on my way home when I noticed three young boys playing with their new rollerblades. I passed by them and kept talking with my girlfriend. We were just laughing. They were very rude and we looked at each other, confused.
I kept walking and after few steps I realized that one of them was asking me something. ‘Don’t you like my way of talking eh?’ ‘Are you from my country?’ ‘Do you like my country?’ ‘If you don’t like my country go away, go away!
I was shocked. It is the first time that something like this has happened to me. They were young, too young maybe 6,8,12…. I don’t know if this is the result of a lack of education or who knows what.
In November 2011, a woman was arrested for her racist comments to other passengers on a train in London. Of course those episodes are not connected, but what immediately comes to my mind is the effect on young people this kind of hatred has. Asked by one of the passengers to mind her language since little kids were on the train, the woman points to the child on her lap and says “I’ve got a little kid here.”
Of course, this is an extreme example of ignorance but which role assumes our behaviour in the eyes of our children? The question could appear trivial but it is not. Many times we underestimate the consequences of our words, or our own actions. Sometimes we do not realize that we are an example for others.
The media is filled with hateful messages. As highlighted in our submission to the Leveson Inquiry, media coverage of immigration in the last 10 years has increased in both volume and hostility towards all categories of immigrants, to the point of completely demonising migrants.
In the recent years, there has been a reported increase of racial discrimination among very young people. This is the time to ask what their understanding of race, culture and diversity is. Are young people conscious of their actions or they mimicking what hear at home?
[h4]We must teach them to value racial and cultural diversity if we are going to have meaningful integration. We must explain them that diversity strengthens our society. It is not a loss of tradition, but an enrichment of our identities.[/h4]
After this weekend, I am still thinking about the schoolmates of these boys. I am almost thirty years old and I can keep walking and move on. But who is protecting their classmates from this kind of violence at school? Children are our future and our responsibility is to teach them to respect other people today.