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Racism, exclusion and integration still issues for minority ethnic young people in Ireland, Youth Council report finds

“I’m seen as a ‘n****r’, ‘a monkey’. [W]e get called these names […] at least once a week” researchers told.

Launch of Research Report: ‘Make Minority a Priority’ exploring the experiences and insights of minority ethnic young people aged 15-24 growing up in Ireland.

Racism, exclusion and integration are still issues in the daily lives of minority ethnic young people in Ireland. That’s according to the National Youth Council of Ireland’s (NYCI) report Make Minority a Priority: Insights from Minority Ethnic Young People that launched today (29.11.17) in Dublin.

The qualitative study explores the perspectives and experiences of 50 young minority ethnic people aged 15 to 24 years who have grown up in Ireland. The study by the NYCI – which represents organisations working with over 380,000 young people – aims to spark evidence informed debate in the youth sector and recommends new ways for youth organisations to work with young people from minority ethnic backgrounds.

Speaking at today’s launch, author of the report Anne Walsh of the NYCI said: “While these issues are not new, what is worrying is that this new research highlights that they are very much still part of everyday life for young people growing up minority ethnic in Ireland.

“All young people need to feel that they can take part in activities out of school. The findings of this research challenge those of us working with young people to ask ourselves what can we do to genuinely embrace and include all those who call Ireland home, and especially those for whom it is their only home.”

Young people spoke at the event about some of the key issues in the research findings including:

Racism and exclusion:

 “Just be realistic here, because this actually does happen, I’m seen as a n****r, [...] seen as a monkey. [...] we get called these names. That even if it’s not on a daily basis, at least once a week. I’m just saying this actually does go on and you’re not taking it seriously.” [Black female, 18+, Ulster]

Identity and belonging:

“You’re scared to show people who you are because you’re afraid that they’re going to judge you from where you came from, and how you act. So you’re just like scared of really being yourself.” [Asian female, under 18, Leinster]

Parental and community relationships:

 “Your parents might be hanging on “but you’re African and this is the way you should be”…. [but] just because your background is African doesn’t mean that your culture can’t be both African and Irish.” [Black male, 18+, Munster]

Integration:

 “Sometimes people are surprised [by cultural practices]… even though you try and explain they don’t understand….We should be taught more about other cultures so that you understand why people act differently and what you might think is weird is completely normal to another person. If you’re not taught that then you don’t really know that.” [Asian female, under 18, Dublin]

The research report by the NYCI provides a number of recommendations for those working with young people, and funders of that work, highlighting that the current approach to intercultural youth work needs to be adapted to include more diverse ways of including young people from minority ethnic backgrounds. The complete report is available at www.youth.ie/minority

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