Youth work, racist behaviour and young people Education or blame?

Article English OPEN
Thomas, Paul (2002)
  • Subject: H1 | HT

This paper explores the issue of racist behaviour by young people, particularly\ud White young people and the response of youth workers and other educators to\ud that racism. In particular, it argues that anti-racism is simply not working with the\ud young people it really needs to work with. The paper provides evidence that\ud youth workers have been disempowered by understandings of anti-racist policy\ud and practice, and that the same policies may well, unintentionally, be having a\ud negative affect on the most marginalised white young people. The paper argues\ud that this may well be due to ‘deficit’ understandings of such white young people,\ud understandings close to ‘underclass’ pathology.\ud The paper was conceived before the events of summer 2001, which saw violent\ud clashes involving white and Asian young people, and the Police, in several\ud towns in the North of England, and violent incidents directed at Asylum Seekers\ud across the UK, culminating in a racist murder in Sighthill, Glasgow. However,\ud these events can be viewed as all too predictable. They pose fundamental\ud questions of theory and practice for Youth Workers and other educators already\ud working with young people who may support, or even perpetrate, such acts of\ud racist violence.\ud This paper aims to debate these questions by focussing in particular on the\ud findings and lessons of an action research project carried out by the University\ud of Huddersfield, material from which has since been published by the\ud Commission for Racial Equality as ‘Open Talk, Open Minds’ (CRE, 1999). The\ud methodology and findings of this research are discussed below.
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