Thomas, Paul (2002) Youth work, racist behaviour and young people Education or blame? Scottish Youth Issues Journal (4). pp. 49-66. ISSN 1469-0780

This paper explores the issue of racist behaviour by young people, particularly
White young people and the response of youth workers and other educators to
that racism. In particular, it argues that anti-racism is simply not working with the
young people it really needs to work with. The paper provides evidence that
youth workers have been disempowered by understandings of anti-racist policy
and practice, and that the same policies may well, unintentionally, be having a
negative affect on the most marginalised white young people. The paper argues
that this may well be due to ‘deficit’ understandings of such white young people,
understandings close to ‘underclass’ pathology.
The paper was conceived before the events of summer 2001, which saw violent
clashes involving white and Asian young people, and the Police, in several
towns in the North of England, and violent incidents directed at Asylum Seekers
across the UK, culminating in a racist murder in Sighthill, Glasgow. However,
these events can be viewed as all too predictable. They pose fundamental
questions of theory and practice for Youth Workers and other educators already
working with young people who may support, or even perpetrate, such acts of
racist violence.
This paper aims to debate these questions by focussing in particular on the
findings and lessons of an action research project carried out by the University
of Huddersfield, material from which has since been published by the
Commission for Racial Equality as ‘Open Talk, Open Minds’ (CRE, 1999). The
methodology and findings of this research are discussed below.


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