I have worked with young people for a while now. Through my time I’ve had to deal with conversations like ‘did phones exist when you were a kid Roxy?’, and disbelief that Craig David is actually having a comeback, not a breakthrough. However, the most interesting conversations for me have been those around identity and race.
I have been a part of, and overheard, young people of colour talk openly and with frustration about the society they live in, a society that still throws challenges their way because of their race, and is rife with inequality. In recent weeks, I’ve listened to young people talk about cultural appropriation, colourism, and racism at school; as well their pride in their culture and race (heightened by the release of Black Panther, which has allowed me to see young people’s hope soar).
I get to hear these conversations and experiences often, and in their most transparent nature. Others do not. Yes, my advantages are clear, I spend a lot of time supporting young people. But I think I am also at an advantage because of the colour of my own skin, something that by default helps these stories come out naturally, and with knowledge that they will be released to an environment that is accepting. If you are not a person of colour, there can be a wall.
But these stories are important beyond my own ears. It is important that people who have little understanding that these experiences exist, listen to them. It is important that adults listen to them, it is important that white people listen to them, and it is important that they are valued.
When young people of colour are those affected by spikes in knife crime, struggle to find employment, and are dropping out of university, why don’t we see them talking about it? When young people of colour are facing racism, colourism, or living in communities that many disregard, why don’t we see them sharing their experiences? When young people of colour want to celebrate their race and culture positively, why don’t we support them?
So here’s my attempt. Simple, fun and informative. A YouTube platform for kids of colour to explore their personal experiences of race, identity and culture in modern Britain. Filming has begun. And no, it is not just ‘here’s my story of racism’ which I’m sure many would disregard, but passionate, intelligent reflections, exploring growing up.
Please listen to them, that is all I ask for now. Young people of colour exist, and within their existence are challenges that they should not have to face; but historic, institutional racism means they do. Young people of colour hold hope, excellence and comedy that people don’t always get to see; they are the UK’s future too, but we are too often smothered by headlines of gangs and knives, or whatever else we like to attach to them.
So it’s time to listen up.
In addition to the YouTube channel, you can follow @KidsOfColourHQ on Instagram and Twitter – if you are a young person who wants to contribute (or know someone who does!), just get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org