Laissez-faire attitudes towards institutional racism

Ruth Ochugboju discusses racism, particularly in universities and the lack of response to it.

Edited by Isabel Aruna.

Social media has once again proven to be a powerful medium in which issues can be voiced instantantly. Faramade Ifaturoti a biomedical student at the University of Warwick, used social media to expose the racial abuse she had experienced at her student accommodation. Miss Ifaturoti was a victim of an overtly racist attack in her own accommodation; the culprits were in fact were her flatmates. Disgusting derogatory language such as “monkey” and “nigger” were used to describe her and were written on bananas, alongside an image of Donald Trump who has now become a contemporary symbol of xenophobia and hatred.

What is most surprising is not the racist attack itself, as racism is still an unfortunate issue in society, but the unsatisfactory response the university gave to the incident. Faramade Ifaturoti stated that she was highly disappointed that it took a Twitter escalation in order for the university to respond”. Faramade’s tweet about the incident sparked a massive twitter response which lead to the start of a trending topic stating “#WeStandWithFara”. This trending topic lead to other ethnic minority students revealing their personal experiences of racism within their institution. Yomi Adegoke in response to Faramade tweeted, “Sad but not necessarily surprised to see my old university is still a seething cesspit of passive aggressive racism”. The fact that hate crimes such as these can go unaddressed without immediate disciplinary action can be linked to why such acts persist. All institutions should have a zero tolerance attitude towards racism and matters such as this should be dealt with the appropriate urgency. If an institution claims they have a zero tolerance policy towards racism and does not enforce it in practice, then the institution is simply allowing racist practices to endure.

Unfortunately, this incident is just a symptom of the racial discrimination within our society. Racist ideologies are so commonly placed that most people do not react in the manner that they should, when witnessing a racist act or hearing a racist remark. I think this is due to the reality that covert passive racism is so conventional in our society that most institutions do not react to racist incidences effectively. The racial abuse ethnic minorities continue to face within institutions reflect beliefs and practices that pervade Britain and need to be actively addressed. Effective action against racism needs to take place within institutions and society for there to be progressive attitudes towards racism. However optimistic, we need to strive for complete tolerance and acceptance in society as the social norm.