29 October 2020

New research from the Young and Black report, released today by YMCA, reveals that 95% of young Black people have heard and witnessed racist language at school, and 78% have heard and witnessed racist language in the workplace. Worryingly, young Black people in the UK said that they now grow up expecting to experience racism because of the colour of their skin.

Findings uncovered that in education, young Black people feel that racial stereotypes have the potential to negatively impact their development and opportunities, with 49% indicating racism as the biggest barrier to academic attainment, and half citing teacher perceptions.

When taking the next steps into employment, young Black people feel that employer prejudice affects their chances of getting a job, with 54% viewing bias at the recruitment stage as the main barrier to employment. Half of young Black people feel that lack of diversity also acts as a barrier, while 52% specified lack of diversity in leadership.

The institutions responsible for equipping young Black people with the tools to tackle their future are the same ones they feel are holding them back. And education and employment are not alone in this.

When asked about police attitudes to race, the majority of young Black people said they do not trust the Police to act fairly towards them, with 64% worried about being treated unfairly. More than half (54%) of young Black people said they do not trust the Police to act without prejudice and discrimination, and 55% worry about being falsely accused of a crime.

Members of the YMCA BAME Youth Advisory Group said:

The Young and Black report exposes the true nature of what it is like to be a young Black person growing up in the UK today.

The narrative shows the shocking, depressing and frank nature of what it is like to be young and Black. Findings clearly highlight that this is not just the action of individuals, but institutions themselves that are perpetuating a culture of prejudice, discrimination and exclusivity.

What struck us most was the sheer level of acceptance but also exhaustion in the Black community, for people so young to be so tainted by this. It is time those with platforms, resources and power did some heavy lifting to make society fairer.”

Denise Hatton, Chief Executive of YMCA England & Wales, said:

“It is shameful that young Black people growing up in the UK continue to do so within a society that engulfs them with racist language and discriminatory attitudes. For too long we have allowed systems to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to what has been taking place right in front of our faces.

Bias and barriers chip away at and ultimately shape the life experiences of young Black people in the UK, putting them at a significant disadvantage. To improve the lives and experiences of young Black people in a meaningful way, systems embedded within institutions must be reviewed and changed.

However, we cannot do this without building a bridge to a community which has been beaten into fundamentally not trusting the very systems that need their help to be changed.

We must listen to what young Black people are saying, right now, and create the fundamental and vital change they are crying out for in order to create a better present and a brighter future. Change must come swiftly, collaboratively, meaningfully and with longevity.”

YMCA works to ensure that young people from all backgrounds and ethnicities feel supported and empowered enough to belong, contribute and thrive, both in their own lives and in their communities.

You can download the research, Young and Blackhere.