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Youth justice in the UK: children, young people and crime
Youth justice in the UK: children, young people and crime

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5 Islamophobia and racism

At the beginning of this session you saw that race and racism are both widely condemned but poorly understood. This is because race is now largely dismissed as a fake biological category with no real substance, and without ‘race’, it is sometimes argued, there can be no racism. However, as the US writer Ta-Nehisi Coates (2015) clarifies ‘Race is the child of racism not the father’. The sociological explanation is that race is ‘socially constructed’, a product of our making rather than a scientific category.

However, religion has increasingly come to take the place of biology in that process of construction and justification. Islam and Muslims are the ‘new black’, the new aliens who cannot be part of ‘us’, when ‘us’ means ‘the white majority’ or ‘the civilised world’. The next activity provides an opportunity to look into what has come to be called ‘Islamophobia’ and youth justice.

Activity 6 Islam, racism and young people

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes for this activity

Read the Foreword (p. 2) to the 2016 report Young Muslims on Trial [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] by Baroness Lola Young. Make some reflective notes on what Baroness Young says about ‘throwaway remarks’ and stereotyping and why these issues might have implications for youth justice.

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Discussion

Baroness Young summarises some of the report’s findings and concludes that ‘throwaway remarks’ considered innocent and inconsequential by those making them indicate that tokenistic diversity training is inadequate. She insists that ‘something much more nuanced and in-depth is urgently required’. The influence of stereotypes is also raised by Baroness Young, and she links personal practice to institutional process. You may have noticed how these themes are linked to similar ones around gender and sexism in youth justice explored in Session 5.