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Enlighten Me

 In a rapidly evolving world, it is easy to feel overwhelmed.  Information and facts can be misinterpreted as we try to make sense of our place in society.  We develop our codes of conduct and values through the people and institutions we trust but sometimes don't always have a clear picture of others' views or different interpretations of 'facts'. 

In our schools, we want our pupils to have an understanding of the issues all of us face in our communities and wider society and to learn about differences.   Some of our pupils will directly face racism, homophobia and transphobia in their lifetimes so our federation-wide values of 'worth, respect, independence, wellbeing and resilience' are embedded in our support to demonstrate personal pride in our own differences and respect others.

The personal stories here are intended as a springboard for finding further texts, videos and information that enlighten you about others' experiences.  This page ultimately seeks to celebrate our difference.

Please contact us with information you feel should be included on this page.

Growing up Black in the UK

Jasmine During discusses her experiences growing up black in the UK and points us to further information sources.

Jasmine During's Blog

Black Lives Matter

The BBC's website identifies the political BLM movement started in the USA and how this has evolved in the light of racism and prejudice.

BBC What is BLM and what are the aims? 

Transgender

An informative set of discussions by Jamie, a Transgender man, who explains his position in society and relating his journey and it's context within the gender critical debates and transphobia.

Transgender discussions by Jamie, a Transgender man

Growing up Gay in the UK

Olly Alexander discusses his experiences of growing up gay and the impact on his mental health and wellbeing.

Olly Alexander: Growing Up Gay in a Straight World

Growing up Asian in the UK

A poem written and read by Rosia Li, a British born Chinese young woman.

I am British

When I Grow Up I Want to Be...

Fewer than 6% of people with learning disabilities have a job

Only 5.8% of people with learning disabilities are in some form of paid employment. This has fallen from 6.6% in 2011. 

Foundation for People With Learning Disabilities

Growing Up with Islamaphobia

What it’s like to grow up in the UK as a Muslim woman: ‘People would shout terrorist at us on school trips’

‘I learned from a young age that when people shout “terrorist” in public, no one around will defend you. Suddenly everyone is deaf.’

 

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By Heather Saul October 9, 2020 

Boris Johnson’s recent description of Muslim women who wear a burka as looking like ‘letterboxes’ and ‘bank robbers’ highlighted the Islamophobia experienced by women every day.

Last year saw a record number of anti-Muslim attacks recorded by the monitoring group Tell Mama, with women disproportionately targeted. Two-thirds of the 1,201 verified reports of anti-Muslim abuse were about incidents which happened offline.

The I newspaper spoke to four people about being confronted with Islamophobia throughout their lives, how the comments about Muslim women have affected them, and what they want to see happen now.

Afroza, 20, Bolton

When we were young, my siblings and I couldn’t go to the park behind our house because we risked being beaten up.

I went to a religious school which was just like normal secondary school aside from lessons starting with a prayer. But every time we went out on school trips, people would call us terrorists and shout: “Allah hu akbar” at us.

I learned from a young age that when people shout “terrorist” in public, no one around will defend you. Suddenly everyone is deaf. Society already alienates you, but when Islamophobia happens in real life it’s 100 times scarier.

Once, we had the back door of our house kicked in, so my parents called the police. They didn’t come out to see us. It happened again the next day and they still didn’t show up.

‘I know how scary it can be when you’re a young girl and a grown man is screaming in your face’

When the likes of Tommy Robinson speak out, scrolling through the comments can be heartbreaking. There is just so much ignorance. I’ve muted some words because of how stressful I find seeing Islamophobic comments online.

All of this affects your confidence and self-esteem. I have really bad anxiety when leaving the house in a headscarf. My mum wears a headscarf and so do my sisters and I worry for their safety all the time. I know they wouldn’t be able to speak up or defend themselves.

But as I’ve grown up, I’ve learnt to be myself unapologetically. I refuse to carry the guilt we are made to feel for no reason. I now speak up about Islamophobia because I know how scary it can be. Especially when you’re a young girl and a grown man is screaming in your face.

Rupa Huq, MP, West London

In the 70s I attended Montpelier primary school in Ealing Broadway, my now constituency.

I remember the first time I was called “Paki” in the playground and being quite startled. My child tormentor had to explain the term to me. I told him: “Actually East Pakistan has been liberated into Bangladesh since 1971, it’s an independent country,” which shut him up.

In those days racism was about being Asian – the subtitles of religion had not reared their head. The Satanic Verses and 9-11 went some way to change that.

‘The culmination of this was having an Islamophobic package containing a letter doused in a mystery substance warning me of “Kill a Muslim Day’

By Spring 2018 I’d become an MP and magnet for abuse, usually with a Muslim twist, sometimes for speaking on justice for Palestinians or even the dangers of leaving the EU.

The culmination of this was having an Islamophobic package containing a letter doused in a mystery substance warning me of “Kill a Muslim Day”. It resulted in my office being cordoned off by police as a crime scene and one of my staff taken to hospital – it was the week of Salisbury.

The rise of all forms of hate crimes in our society is deplorable and I lay much of the blame at the door of the climate we have in our divided nation post-referendum.

Danila, 13, Aldershot

I think Islamophobia is history repeating itself because people have misconceptions about ethnic minorities just based on the way they look or live. Sometimes at school children say things like “Allah Akbar” as a joke, and can be unwilling to listen to anything about Islam. That, or what is taught to them goes in one ear and out the other. If they learned about Islam they could understand.

When a specific group of people is persecuted, such as the Jews before World War II and Muslims now, alarm bells should ring, especially when a name is given to it, such as anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Farzana Yousuf

Islamophobia is a worry, but it reinforces my resolve to work for peace and a better understanding in society.

Among other things, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s outreach team, where I am secretary, raises money for British charities, assists women’s shelters, volunteers at food banks, helps the elderly and homeless and plants thousands of trees. We’ve been doing so in Britain for decades. This is true Islam in Britain and a direct strategy for countering Islamophobia.

Sara Khan, 38, London

The best thing about this situation and conversation is that we are hearing the voices of Muslim women. We are the vanguard. We are fighting to uphold the principles of freedom, choice and good manners not for ourselves but for the whole of society.

We will try to stop hatred and division in its tracks and build a better society.