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Why does skin colour affect how well I do at school?

Why does skin colour affect how well I do at school?

Although we no longer live in the 18th Century where numerous coloured people were cajoled into believing that they were inferior to their white counterparts, one cannot help but recognise that racism isn’t completely out of our system and in spite of equality being promoted; there is still a lot of inequality.

As a young black female, you could say that I got the worst part of the bargain. One I’m black, two I’m female (as in multiple cases females are treated as ‘inferior’ and hence receiving lower wages than their male counterparts in the same field of work). It is so frustrating to see fellow BAME students particularly black people struggling at school, being involved in anti-social behaviours and attaining low grades. In terms of education, there are so many individuals out there who wish to educate themselves and yet do not have the opportunity that we have in the UK. Free education is a key in transforming many lives. So, whenever I see people who look like me and have similar backgrounds to mine not seizing the opportunity, it cuts deep to the core because we have our future right in front of us.

I have been blessed to have both parents nurture me until it was time for me to leave the ‘nest’ and move to another city to pursue higher education. Being of African origin and living in Europe, there is nothing like mediocrity, you don’t dream of it, it shouldn’t even be seen in your ‘encyclopaedia.’ Excellency should be your goal! Unfortunately, there are some with the mind-set that what you will amount to depends on your colour. Although high achievement should be a dream for all, unnecessary stress is caused for young BAME students to do better just because they are “foreigners” which shouldn’t be the case. Your desire to do well shouldn’t be based on your ethnicity. Unfortunately, what is at the back of many coloured students’ minds is that failure gives racist individuals in society another opportunity to boost their egos of the fact that non-white people are apparently just plain dumb and ‘need to go back to where they come from.’

In order to change the discriminatory views we need to make a few changes.

We must recognise and understand that the God who created the white people is the same God that created the coloured. Often in life, there are certain privileges which we have and take for granted until it is gone. People are of different colour and race for a reason best known to the creator of the universe.

Furthermore, in order for us to move on in society and acknowledge that brilliance can rise up from every corner and inch of this world is by recognising and appreciating the powerful minds that have shaped our world today such as Mary Jackson, Dorothy Vaughan and Katherine Johnson. Not only do their lives represent intelligence in academia within the coloured community but coloured women where they worked in a sector predominantly ran by white males. Hidden Figures is a perfect movie which illustrates how their lives have made an impact in history.

Another way we can challenge this predicament is by encouragement and love for others. It is necessary for each and every student to know that they are supported in their choices of career and working towards that goal and that there is advice for them whenever necessary. When individuals have been knocked down to the core – being told that they will never make those grades, (myself once a victim) or that they will never be good enough can cause anyone to be scared to ask for help or support even if the doors are wide open and were never locked to begin with.

Self-love, self-worth and appreciation are needed to overcome. This can be achieved by cultural events, seeing different people as part of a team and embracing ideas from other cultures that allow us to welcome people from various backgrounds.

Despite the unfortunate status that BAME students have in academia, there is a fortunate side where the gap between them and other students applying and attending Russel group universities is decreasing. This means that we are heading to the right direction but we can still strive to see a time where the only difference between students excelling is not just natural ability but hard work and no longer a question of colour.

Priscilla Dumenu

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