The Tables Have Turned- Majority Group Victim of "Discrimination"

by romy.ahnroyer on October 29, 2014 - 1:16am

The article "Parent's Fury After 'Discriminating' School Trip" by Gema Bate which was published in the Worcestershire News October 1st, 2014 discusses a school trip that left out English speaking students. On September 30th of this year, St-Mary's Primary School, in Kidderminster, England took children who did not speak English as their first language to a petting farm, while the other students stayed at school for their usual lessons. The money for the trip was provided by the Worcestershire County Council in order to help non-English speaking children have the chance to develop their knowledge of this language. However, the author of this article explains that this school trip caused a lot of discontent among the parents of the English speaking students, as they felt that their kids were being discriminated against. Furthermore, they believe that this will lead to racism as the school staff is creating a division among the students and privileging certain individuals over others. The furious parents claim to only have found out about this "discriminating" act as the children we're getting on the bus, ready to leave on the field trip. As a result, several parents have gotten together and are having this case inspected because they feel that this situation is violating the principle of equality among all children and that it isn't the proper way to teach non-English speaking students the language. In conclusion, education regulators are taking this very seriously seeing as that many parents feel it is a clear case of discrimination.

In a society where we thrive for equality, racism and discrimination are subjects that are not taken lightly. However, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what these terms entail because while one person may feel victimized by certain comments or actions, others may see it as innocent and normal. The utopian solution would be to eliminate racism and discrimination altogether but is that possible seeing as that these cases of injustice are so often overlooked? Furthermore, can we really eliminate the problem when majority groups continue seeing differences as taboo subjects?

Before coming into this class, if I had read the article "Parent's Fury After 'Discriminating' School Trip", I would have agreed with the angry parents that their kids were victims of discrimination but I now believe otherwise. Minority groups are constantly faced with racial slurs and situations but more often than not, the majority group ignores the problem or brushes it off as inoffensive. They are quick to engage in various discourses of democratic racism, such as the discourse of denial, the discourse of equal opportunity and the discourse of blaming the victim. However, when the tables are turned, it is no longer a laughing matter and must be dealt with quickly and seriously.

If we take the example of Jane Elliot and the experiment she did with college students, we see that majority groups are quick to say that they are being discriminated against and some even run off crying. However, what they fail to acknowledge is that individuals of minority groups go through similar situations every day but are expected to ignore it. I think Jane Elliot's experiment can relate to this article because the English speaking parents claim that the school is being unfair and violating their children's rights to equality when in reality, they simply aren't used to being "excluded" in this way. They immediately felt victimized and failed to see that other students and parents who have not grown up in England may go through this daily. In my opinion, St-Mary's Primary school is in no way discriminating their English speaking students and in fact, I think they are trying to decrease any kind of exclusion children may feel. The main goal of the field trip was to help the non-English speaking students learn the language in a fun way and as a result, interact better with the other kids. The efforts put into helping the children become more comfortable with the language is a great way to make them feel more at ease and less excluded from the English speaking students.

Not only do the parents believe their kids are being victims of discrimination but they also believe this situation will create racism within the school. However, in my opinion the only ones to blame if ever racism does come out of this, will be the parents seeing as that they are the ones highlighting the "bad" in the field trip situation. I agree with the parents of the English speaking students that it may have been better if they were informed about the field trip in advance but not to cause a debate over. In my opinion, they should have known about the trip early on but only so that they could explain to their children why some of the students were allowed to go on the trip while others were not. Parents have an enormous influence on their children and each thought and action contributes to the child's development. As we observed in the documentary "A Look at Race Relations Through a Child's Eyes," kids of majority groups claim that their parents would not be happy if they brought home a friend of a different color. Furthermore, it was proven that majority group parents are less likely to bring up the subject of race, as well as differences, with their children.

I believe the article's biggest strength is that it is relatively objective. When writing about topics regarding racism and discrimination, it's sometimes difficult to stay neutral as a large majority of us have an opinion on this subject. However, the author, Gema Bate, managed to present facts rather than her personal beliefs, which allows the readers to form their own opinion of this situation. Often, we read articles where minority groups are being blamed but in this case, I feel that we are really given the choice to make up our own mind on whether we think this situation is a violation of equality or not.

As for weaknesses, in my opinion the only aspect I would consider to be weak is that the author does not have any quotes from the parents of the non-English speaking students. There are many unpleased parents who shared their opinion on the "unfair" field trip but none of the other parents shared their point of view. I think this piece would have more of an impact if we knew how both sides were reacting, as well as making this article even more objective. However, I understand why non-speaking English parents may feel uneasy speaking up about this situation as they may not feel comfortable enough with the language or may not want to cause more problems.   

Overall, this article gave me a lot to think about and made me question who is really to blame when it comes to racist situations. Parents have the power to teach their kids right from wrong which is why I believe that racism can be reduced if parents simply take the time to explain that people are different while emphasizing how great that is. Majority groups are quick to react when they are being discriminated against but tend to diminish the importance of racial intimidation in minority groups and even go as far as not talking about it at all. However, if individuals, more specifically, parents, continue to see race as a taboo subject, how can we expect future generations to ever be comfortable with the idea?

 

Bate, G. (2014, October 1st). Parent's Fury After 'Discriminating' School Trip. Worcester News.    Retrieved from             http://www.worcesternews.co.uk/news/regional/worcestershire/11507011.Par... after__discriminating__school_trip/

Comments

This was a very well thought out article. Particularly your ability to recognize that minority groups face discrimination on a daily basis but are simply expected to ignore it and carry on. I commend you for recognizing that initially you would have found that the class trip was unfair, but after reading the article and understanding the different viewpoints that that was really the case.
As a Puerto Rican woman I often am discriminated on two fronts, one for being a woman and second for being Hispanic. Like you mentioned, when I encounter prejudice, I am expected to simply move on. For me, it isn't a matter of simply moving on it is more a decision to pick the battles I fight against racism and sexism. Sadly, I do encounter prejudice on a near daily basis. Many people who feel that discriminating against me is acceptable would not be swayed by me debating their flawed views. However, I would fight an instance of discrimination if it was unlawful.
Your questions about how to eliminate racism are valid. All too often people are afraid to discuss racism. I think it is partly due to fear of those people being labeled as racist. I have seen this happen all too often, where someone is trying to learn about another culture, and while their questions may seem ignorant, at least they are asking. I think if society allowed for non-judgmental discussion between different cultural groups, it might help start a healthier discourse on the topic in general. People simply do not what to stick their necks out to learn about another culture of people if a result may be being labeled a racist.
Do I actually think that would work? Sadly, no. I think your article does a excellent job of pointing out why. Most people do not realize what an individual of a minority group faces on a daily basis. In order for equality to prevail people would need to understand the daily life of a minority individual. Unfortunately, the article about the school trip shows all too well that people do not normally do that, but instead only see one side, theirs.

I find your article very interesting and I think the manner in which you convey your opinion about this topic is very clear and well explained. Additionally, the way you give both, the English speaking parents and the non-English speaking ones, points of view on this supposed injustice gives us, your readers, the opportunity to form our own thoughts before even reading Gema Bate's article "Parent's Fury After 'Discriminating' School Trip".
If you think about it, the discrimination expressed towards those children who's first language is not English, could be compared to the discrimination made towards people in the LGBTQIA community. For example the way people expect the minority groups to react nonchalantly when facing a discriminatory situation, how they are expected to simply overlook it and walk away, as if it is ok that they even have to deal with any vulgar remarks.
Heres a link further elaborating what people in the LGBTQIA community have to go through when it comes to discrimination:
http://transequality.org/PDFs/Executive_Summary.pdf

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