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Mother of four tells council how her family has faced racism

A mother of four children has told how her family have been the victims of ‘inadvertent racism’ in schools and in the district.

Kerrie Rycroft told a meeting of the rural and communities overview and scrutiny committee that she is a white woman living in South Kesteven raising four non-white children.

“My family and I deal with all different kinds of racial prejudice on a regular basis. In my experience although incidents of nasty racism do happen, they are few and far between . The biggest problem we have in our area I believe is a lack of education .

The district council is taking action against racism. (43696390)
The district council is taking action against racism. (43696390)

Ms Rycroft added: “Most people around here are very well meaning, ordinary people who have never experienced any kind of racism and don’t mean to be racist but inadvertently can be very offensive. So the fact that the council is prepared to work to make sure that other families don’t have to go through what my family and I go through is a really positive step.

“I have had many many experiences such as having teachers in schools express their shock that I am not black when they meet me for the first time and because they teach my children who are mixed race. I have been asked multiple times where I adopted my children by people who live in and around South Kesteven because they have a different skin colour to me, and the number of times that schools have insisted that my children have to choose whether they are black or white because their computer systems don’t offer any other option.

“These kinds of experiences happen all the time and it’s definitely the kind of experience that education can look to resolve. I never experienced racism in any form until I had non-white children. Unless you have been in this situation it’s really easy to believe that racism doesn’t exist.

“On that basis I am really impressed with the council being willing to stand up and embrace change and I think that you have got a unique ability to be the leaders of this movement and to help South Kesteven educate the really good people who live here who have never experienced racism and who just need educating and leading to think before they speak, do better and try harder.”

Committee chairman Ray Wootten said: “I am sure the committee will join with me in condemning racism in any form, that those who show prejudice or discrimination against other people because they are from a different background is wrong. There is no justification for racial discrimination and I would encourage any form of race or hate crime to be reported to the police.”

Councillor Amanda Wheeler told the meeting she had originally put forward her anti-racism motion when she saw a post by Ms Rycroft which had gone viral on Facebook.

Coun Wheeler said that she was grateful for the support of the council and delighted with the recommendations put forward by Carol Drury, the community engagement and policy development officer.

Coun Wheeler said: “More importantly for me, because I am a teacher, is the education and training aspect because I truly believe that education is the key to unlocking the door and to helping us all be the best that we can.”

The committee voted in favour of a number of recommendations with regards to the anti-racism action plan. These include asking organisations across the district to pledge their commitment to anti-racism and for the council to declare that it is intolerant to racism and will continue to seek to eradicate it.

Councillors also agreed to start a review involving BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) members of the community, of processes, policies and organisational attitudes. Appropriate speakers will also be invited to the council to talk about the issues and help with training for councillors and staff.

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