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Lower 6th boarder Fakuma-Ilaghafrom Nigeria, writes his poignant  thoughts on equality and how racism can impact on young people. 

 The world seemed to be set ablaze by the aftermath of the incident that took place in Minneapolis, MinnesotaUnited States. On 25 May 2020However, for most it was a matter of place and timing, as similar events had taken place in the past few years, with 2015 seeing more than 100 recorded cases of police brutality on black people which resulted in deaths, and even more unrecorded cases. 

 One would ask why these brutal events take place year in and year out? Why would someone would discriminate against another human being because of the colour of their skin, the texture of their hair or even the size of their hands? 

 Ultimately it all boils down to what we learn between the tender ages of 3 and 5 years old, as, during those years children begin to develop their personalities through interactions with their family. The morals of the family members will stick with the child for life but a child also learns from observations – what the child sees and hears.  

 In a situation where the father and mother spend night out with their neighbours of a different race and cultural background, the parents may seem to be enjoying their night out but underneath there might be a different story…when the parents get home they might nag about how their neighbours eat, speak and dress. A stereotype then arises from this, where the parents conclude that this is just how they all act’. Although the child has not said thisthey have been listening and digesting all the remarks and concluded stereotypes. The real question now lays with how the child will treat other children of different ethnicities. There is only one answer to that: a child will display what he or she has been taught and influenced by.  

 Racism and prejudice affect us all, but in cases where young black students have to research the treatment of minority groups before they can apply for a school in that countythat is uncalled for!  

 Where parents have to lecture their sons and daughters to be ready and prepared for discriminationthat is sad. But when they tell their children to allow it most of the time, as responding will play to the stereotype of black people being too loud and easily angered, this causes an inferiority complex. The child does not feel like they are smart enough to understand a topic in school, because they feel all eyes are staring at them. When they go to a white, male dominated bar, or they just feel like they can’t try something new like skiing, then they feel strongly about the invisible barrier that has been inbuilt in them by society.  

 It is very easy to sideline all these issues if you are not affected by them, but it is also easy for the majority to become the minority with a change of location. 

 No one is immune to prejudice, racism and stereotypes or any form of discrimination. The only way to attain equality is for us to share in solidarity for one and another, educate ourselves and use this new-found knowledge to increase awareness in our families and communities. 

 My prayers go out to the families affected by racism. 

Gelegu Fakuma-Ilagha

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