During today’s assembly, two members of our TIDE (Team for Inclusion, Diversity and Equality), Suzanna Fullick and Chinya Manley (both Upper Sixth), provided excellent speeches on the importance of ensuring that anything that we do as a School is not tokenistic and enacts real, tangible change to the way we move forward when addressing issues of race and diversity in all its forms.
Our recent Chapel services and Headmaster’s assemblies have profiled various black historical figures during Black History Month which has formed an important basis for discussions in our weekly PSHE sessions. We are working hard to make this kind of discussion part of the ‘new normal’ when it comes to the topic of diversity.
TIDE has been formed with the aim of broadening the entire community’s awareness and understanding of the day-to-day challenges being faced by all our students and seeking out ways to improve the School’s response to these areas. It is an initiative that is open to all students in both the Prep and Senior Schools, the staff rooms and the Old Suttonian community and we would welcome anyone who is interested in being involved to get in touch with Mr Sealy.
In case you missed the assembly, here are the speeches Suzanna and Chinya made.
“Discrimination can be defined as “the unjust treatment of different categories of people, through race, age, sex or disability”
Discrimination is a word that is familiar to everyone. It is a word that many people from different backgrounds, different cultures, race, or sexuality commonly use in everyday conversation. At SVS, we pride ourselves on being an accepting community. However, it is possible that discrimination could happen here too.
I chose to begin with defining the word ‘discrimination’ because, as a student, I feel as though many of us know the word, but do not always consider the implications behind it. Many of you may not realise that discrimination is a form of bullying, and it is a way of spreading hate from one person to another. Although I have not experienced discrimination because of the colour of my skin or because of my sexuality or the culture I was brought up in, it does not mean I can’t identify when someone is getting bullied or ridiculed for who they are.
“Everybody is trans. Nobody falls neatly into the gender binary model. Most of us have a little bit of masculinity or a little bit of femininity in us.” Actress – Laverne Cox
Some of you may listen to that quote and be shocked by the suggestion that “everybody is trans”. It is important to recognise that everyone has different characteristics and personalities and that our perception of gender is often socially constructed.
So, why do some of us choose to ridicule people who are open about themselves and confident enough to express who they are? It does not seem right and it is not the way in which we should approach people who are different.
We should not bully people for who they are. We should speak to them and educate ourselves to show that we accept change and accept everyone. By doing small things like this we are helping future generations to understand that everyone is the same and everyone is equal.
I will finish with a quote from Rosa Parks “I believe that there is one race – the human race” therefore, we should love and respect everyone because the only people hurting society are the people hurting each other.”
“I look to a day when people shall not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character” Martin Luther King, 57 years ago. Fifty-seven years onwards and diversity is still an issue. Imagine growing up in a world where it is not a matter of if but when. When will I be dehumanised for the colour of my skin? When will I watch the news and not hear of my kind getting killed for the colour of their skin? It is rather unfortunate we live in a world where people are defined by the colour of their skin when what truly matters is what we hold within.
I am a victim of racism, and my experience has opened my eyes to the world around me. Sometimes you must hurt to know, you must fall to grow because life’s greatest lessons are learnt through pain. I say this not to seek sympathy but to let everyone out there who has felt victimised in any manner that you are enough, you have always been enough and you will always be enough.
Education, I believe, is the ultimate key to a future without discrimination of any sort. The world must wake up. We must do more. We must educate ourselves and know the damage we cause by the hurtful words we speak. Taking the knee or supporting social media campaigns is a start but it is nowhere near enough, we need to educate ourselves and I am grateful for the introduction of the TIDE team to help bring awareness to the issues we need to know about. Knowledge is power and we are much stronger when we are more aware. As the great Nelson Mandela once said “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
Before we judge someone or do something cruel to someone, based on colour, country of origin or an issue of appearance let us take a minute and think. Would we like to be in their shoes? Please stand where they are. Would we like to be treated spitefully for no reason other than the way we appear? The answer is no. Then let us not do something to someone that we would not like to happen to ourselves. Discrimination is a vice, and it needs to be eradicated. I look forward to seeing all of you at our next TIDE meeting, the more united we are, the stronger we become. Thank you.”