Going to school and being part of such an elaborate community in this decade has its hardships. Especially with the pandemic taking a toll on all of us, putting us through more than an average teenager should have to face. However, pushing corona to the side, going to school still has its individual challenges but this shouldn’t include having to deal with racism and discrimination on the regular.

That’s why I recently took the opportunity to interview two of my peers: Yara Elqa and Vianna Mafokosho to find out more about their experiences at school in the UK as a person of colour.

What is your ethnicity?

Vianna: UK, parents are from Zimbabwe and my ethnicity is African (black British)

Yara: I am from Palestine so therefore I am Arab.

Has your culture ever been used against you in any way?

Yara: I have been told that I am too loud to be a hijabi and that it is against the innocent image.

Vianna: People mock my culture as they base it on stereotypes that the media and internet portray, which are very inaccurate most of the times as they’re made to be for entertainment purposes rather than educating the beauty of the real culture. People try to make me feel shame of my culture, claiming it’s light-hearted banter, but when they are confronted or seen to have created offence, then they want you to receive it only as a joke.

Have you ever faced any acts of racism in school?

Vianna: Yes. From a very young age, I could sense that I was left out or treated differently from my friends (who were predominantly white) as it was always done so subtly that no one would notice. Growing up with people who weren’t the same race as you, it was hard to have people who actually understood you rather than what people assume. Most kids don’t realise that their comments can be racist, something so little as a micro aggression really tolls with the mind of some of colour and gives unneeded insecurity to those who face these issues.

Yara: I have been called a crazy Indian and this led to a slight altercation. I have also been called toilet paper head

Do you think that everyone is treated equally in your school?

Yara: I don't think everyone Is treated equally but I personally don't blame it on teachers however I feel that they are a lot more lenient than they should be especially with slurs and discrimination.

Vianna: Yes, to a certain degree. As society has evolved into accepting people for who they are, they’ll always be people who are more bias or lenient to a specific group. I believe we’re all given a fair basis but then others have advantages due to being favoured.

Do you ever feel separated from the rest of the school community due to your identity?

Vianna: Yes, as there’s always roughly 2-3 people of ethnic minorities in a class and it’s harder to find people who can relate to you.

Yara: I feel separated from the community because I don't feel that many of the people can understand and relate to the rules and boundaries my parents maintain because of our culture.

From this insight into the struggles that people of colour face in our education system, we have learnt that they feel ostracised from the school community. Which is the exact opposite of the equality that schools preach, we as a society and community should work harder to help everyone feel welcome and appreciated for not only their assets and work, but who they are and the beautiful culture that resides within them.