Starbucks staff needed racism training

Earlier this week Starbucks closed thousands of its coffee shops across the US so that its staff could receive so-called “unconscious bias” training, so they’d be able to recognise and overcome the ingrained prejudices most of us don’t even know we have. Why was this necessary and could it work to help reduce racism?

What prompted the training?

In Philadelphia, USA about a month ago two African-American men, Rashon Nelson and Donte Robinson, went to a Starbucks for a meeting but got there a bit early. So they sat down, one asked where the toilets were, before buying any coffee or snacks. The result was that less than a few minutes later the white Starbucks employee rang 911 (equivalent to 999 in the USA). The police arresting them was filmed on someone’s mobile phone and got a huge amount of hits on social media. The two men spoke to ABC News about their experience.

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Will the training really work?

A recent report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission in the UK found “mixed results” for sessions aimed at reducing bias and “limited” evidence that they change behaviour.

Other people have criticised the unconscious bias training as implying that the racism is a psychological issue when it really should have been getting staff to participate in anti-racist education that looks at the historical roots of the problem.

When it comes to stopping racism like what happened in Philadelphia occurring again perhaps the rules should change, so that people aren’t told to leave if they sit down before buying their cup of coffee and are allowed to use the toilet without making purchases.

Mari Oliver from Texas is Suing Her School

Mari Oliver is 17 years old and is suing her school for reprimanding her when she chooses not to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance (to the USA).

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It sounds like Mari Oliver is annoyed that certain human rights from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (udhr_booklet_en_web) are being denied to African Americans in the USA:

Article 7 – All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 10 – Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 18 –  Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance

Can you think of any more human rights which are being denied?

Massacre in Burma or is it Myanmar?

A group of people, the Rohingya (Muslim), have been fleeing their homes in their thousands this week and sharing stories with refugee, government and new agencies about their mistreatment in Burma/ Myanmar (majority Buddhist).  More than 160,000 of Burma/ Myanmar’s 1.1 million ethnic Rohingya minority have fled to Bangladesh, bringing with them stories that they say describe ethnic cleansing.

Ethnic cleansing – the mass expulsion or killing of members of one ethnic or religious group in an area by those of another.

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The leader in Burma/ Myanmar is Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who said in 1991: “Wherever suffering is ignored, there will be the seeds of conflict, for suffering degrades and embitters and enrages.” There is a petition that she is stripped of her Nobel Prize for not stopping and condemning the attacks on the Rohingya.

News agencies are being cautious with their language when reporting the story as there have also been reports of Rohingya terrorists attacking and killing Buddhists and Hindus. So when they report on a massacre against the Rohingya they use language like the Guardian cannot independently corroborate the villagers’ accounts to protect themselves if the stories do turn out not to be true.

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Soul of a Nation

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Soul of a Nation a new art exhibition at Tate Modern art gallery in London examines what it meant to be black and an artist during the civil rights movement, from 1963 – when the idea of black power was emerging in the USA – through to 1983. As you arrive in the first room you are met with the audio of Martin Luther King‘s ‘I have a dream’ speech. It is the first time a lot of the art has been in displayed in the UK. For anybody interested in the history of the civil rights movement or how we are striving for racial harmony, then this is an art exhibition not to be missed, Channel 4 agree.

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Muhammad Ali: watch and learn

In today’s lesson where students had to decide who is the biggest hero, Mother Teresa or Muhammad Ali, the latter was a clear winner. Below are some documentaries and films which will provide you with a heaps of information and inspiration from the great man himself.

  • Muhammad Ali – The Whole Story (1996): This is a six hour series which covers the whole of Muhammad Ali’s life.
  • When We Were Kings (1996): I watched this for the first time at University as part of  a film festival and the documentary transfixes you with the heat and passion of boxing. It covers the infamous 1974 ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ between Ali and George Foreman in Zaire in 1974. The focus is, naturally enough, the aging Ali, who was thought at the time to have little chance of beating Foreman yet his ‘rope-a-dope’ strategy –pretending to be in more trouble than you actually are, and cunningly wearing your opponent down in the process – proves devastating.
  • Ali (2001): Will Smith who is most famous for the Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Men in Black stars in this biopic that chronicles ten years in the life of Cassius Clay, from 1964, when he took the heavyweight title from Sonny Liston, to 1974 and the Rumble In The Jungle with George Foreman. In between, there are the wider issues of Ali’s controversial opposition to the Vietnam War as a conscientious objector, his conversion to Islam, his banishment from boxing and his initial return against Joe Frazier.
  • The Trials of Muhammad Ali (2013): This is an American PBS documentary which focuses on Ali’s life outside the ring. A lot of times is given of course to his refusal of the Vietnam draft and the legal and professional problems it caused him (he faced prison, was stripped of his heavyweight title and had his boxing licence suspended for four years).
  • I am Ali (2013): This documentary is just about Ali as a man. There isn’t the focus on Ali as a boxer like other films or documentaries. It shows him as a warm-hearted family man through lots of  audio recordings Ali himself  in the ‘70s.

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Other short clips about Ali are worth watching to learn more about this hero:

  1. BBC News reporting on his death
  2. Inside Story by Al-Jazeera
  3. Muhammad Ali Obituary by the New York Times
  4. The last US President Obama gives a tribute to Ali 
  5. BBC Sports Personality of the Century

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Desmond Tutu for the Old AQA GCSE

In South Africa there was Apartheid  from the late 1940s that saw the separation of black and white people and was enforced by law. Apartheid came to an end in the 1990s.

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Many Christians who believed in the Bible’s teaching about equality campaigned against Apartheid. Trevor Huddleston was a white vicar who lived in a black township, he organised non-violent protests and urged countries to boycott sporting and cultural links with South Africa until Apartheid came to an end.

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Archbishop Desmond Tutu was born in South Africa in 1931. He became a priest during the apartheid regime and spent years campaigning to end it. He was a black bishop who used his sermons and speeches to explain how apartheid was against Jesus’ teaching, he travelled to pursue other governments to help bring apartheid to an end. He led non-violent protests and saw prayer as vital to seeing change.After Apartheid had ended, Archbishop Tutu wanted to encourage black and whites to both admit the wrongdoing they had caused and he set up the ‘Truth and reconciliation’ Commission to look into human rights abuses and protect those who were willing to admit what they had done.

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God does not show favouritism” is a quote from the Bible which reflects the belief Christians have that God loves everyone equally. “If there is an alien living in your land do not ill treat him” is another quote that suggests prejudice and discrimination against people of different races or ethnic origin is wrong and that instead we should, ‘Treat others as you wish to be treated’ (the Golden Rule).

Why would a Christian be against Racism?

  1. Everyone is made ‘In God’s image’ therefore should be treated equally
  2. Jesus taught people to ‘Love your neighbour’  with the parable of the Good Samaritan teaching that everyone is our neighbour and we should treat people equally regardless of race.
  3. Martin Luther King was a Christian who fought against racism in America through non-violent peaceful protests. His beliefs in equality for all regardless of race prompted him to change people’s attitudes towards black people in America.
  4. St Paul wrote, ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, all are one in Christ.” This suggests that we shouldn’t discriminate as we all equally valuable regardless of race, gender…

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Helping you understand Gandhi

It is a fabulous film, though rather long, but will help you understand the great Hindu peace activist Mahatma Gandhi – Gandhi. In fact when my sister was in Year 11 she watched the film to prepare for her GCSE History which had a unit on the Partition of India. I watched it too (in Year 9 at the time) which then helped me understand when my sister and I argued in the future, why rather than have a sisterly catfight, she used to sit there and simply say “passive resistance’ to my hair pulling and light punches!

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There are numerous BBC documentaries to give you an insight into Mahatma Gandhi: In Search of Gandhi; The Making of Mahatma Part 1 (all other parts are available on YouTube); and a five hour marathon of original news coverage of Gandhi!

A short 4 minute radio interview with Gandhi’s grandson allows us to understand how it must have felt being related to such a key 21st century figure.

Finally if reading is more your thing then once again iWonder on the BBC has a substantial and well designed webpage about Gandhi, as does the BBC Religion pages.

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