Teachers are 3.5 times more likely to exclude black children of Caribbean descent than other children, providing a shocking example of the institutional racism that faces British society.
Institutional racism within some UK schools has been a significant issue for generations; albeit one that is often hidden from plain sight. It dramatically reduces the chances and prospects of ethnic minorities at almost every milestone of life – especially their careers.
Tackling institutional racism
“Only through education and understanding can we eradicate long-standing racism in the UK,” says its founder Lara Sengupta.
Sengupta says to tackle racism in the UK, children of all races need to be educated about racial discrimination and the various forms it takes.
“Children might be able to identify and even stand up to overt racism, but teaching them how to challenge systemic and institutional racism is much more difficult.
“Breakfast Clubs Against Racism aims to make a difference by giving children a toolkit on how to recognise racial discrimination in British society and leadership skills to build the confidence to challenge it. We hope that this will provide a true anecdote to the long-standing issue of racism.”
The issue of institutional racism in the UK has long been exacerbated by the white majority’s denials and the silence that followed attempts at bringing racism to attention. However, the accelerated Black Lives Matters movement following George Floyd’s death has hugely helped raise awareness of racism as a British problem.
Through better education, Breakfast Clubs Against Racism is trying to nurture the next generation to create thoughtful, educated, inclusive leaders who can spearhead meaningful long-term change.
Racism in the UK
The effects of racism on individuals and society in the UK are far-reaching and manifest in both overt and subtle forms, both having catastrophic consequences.
BAME people in the UK are up to 10 times as likely to be stopped and searched by police. They are also significantly more likely to be subjected to the use of force. Black people in London have been fined for COVID-19 lockdown breaches at twice the rate of white citizens. This is just one example of harsher sentencing for the same crime, faced by the BAME community compared to the white community.
BAME women in the UK are more likely to die in childbirth or the first year of their baby’s life. Black women are almost five times as likely to die prematurely as white women, whereas Asian women are nearly twice as likely.
BAME individuals are less likely to be hired by employers, leading to a higher unemployment rate for these demographics. On average, a BAME jobseeker needs to send out 60% more job applications than their white counterparts (even when their CVs are identical).
These issues are compounded by less representation of BAME communities at all levels of British politics and government.
Tackling racism through better education
Breakfast Clubs Against Racism will be launching three breakfast clubs throughout south and east London in September 2021, although children from neighbouring schools will be invited to apply.
Each club will have 15 spaces and run every Saturday morning for 10 weeks during the winter term. The goal is to expand the programme in 2022, implementing lessons learned during this initial series – subject to the outcome of the ongoing pandemic.
Lara Sengupta, the Breakfast Clubs Against Racism’s 30-year-old founder, was born and raised in London. She experienced the challenges facing BAME communities first-hand, especially when she decided to launch her ethical yoga brand, CorkYogis.
Another key figure involved in Breakfast Clubs Against Racism is Rhiannon Turner. Rhiannon is a professor of psychology featured in the documentary “The School That Tried to End Racism”. That documentary was a key source of inspiration for these breakfast clubs. Rhiannon is now serving as a trustee on the board, helping to devise a positive and powerful curriculum for the children.
Other trustees include Niran Vinod, a creative strategist and the co-author of “How to Build it” from the Stormzy-curated “How to…” series by #Merkybooks. And Josephine Jengo, Lead for the representation of Women in Parliament within the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association.
Breakfast Clubs Against Racism is in the early stages of development and needs your support. A crowdfunding campaign has been launched. Donations of any size are welcome. You can help to stamp out institutional racism in education by visiting: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/breakfast-clubs-against-racism.