Posted: Nov 2012
This discussion took place on Eddie Nestors BBC Radio London Drivetime show, on Nov 08 2012. You can listen to it here.
Inspired by a news story concerning a 13 year old Millwall fan banned for verbally abusing Bolton forward Marvin Sordell, the discussion here was more broadly about racism and children. 'Kick it Out' Chair Lord Herman Ouseley takes the view that while children shouldn't be labelled "racists" their racist abuse is, nontheless, "unacceptable", a "part of life" and stems from the influence of parents at home. I counter this view by insisting on a distinction between racial etiquette and consciously held beliefs; "Children need the freedom to work things out by themselves. All we do by elevating these issues into "racist incidents" is racialise their interactions with each other ... it just makes things worse".
The interesting thing about the discussion is that for Lord Ouseley the "it" in Kick it Out is a conception of racism reduced down to the elimination of "inappropriate" language. He seemed to agree that labelling children behaving childishly as 'racist' was a nonsense but still saw them as naive transmitters of the racism that's "a part of life" ... (in other words 'its the parents'). The schools campaign Show Racism the Red Card take a similar view, describing their educational programme as "breaking the transmission of inter-generational racism".
So we're back at the 'nip it in the bud' school of vulgar child development theory! Its nice and simple tho - take the stuff kids say, re-interpret it as racist (being careful not to imply the little lambs are themselves "racists") and then outlaw it while at the same time inculcating the correct anti-racist values. Thankfully, as this site elaborates, kids dont work that way. But the attempt to enforce correct values damages and cramps childhhood.
It was hard, in 2 minutes, to stand up for the freedom to be a kid (unfettered peer interaction), stand up for adult moral authority (i.e. telling them to cut it out when they're being nasty little beggers right in front of you) and respectfully point out that none of this amounts to racism.