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The youth have their say

OPEN DISCUSSIONS ABOUT RACE: Ko , one of the young panel members in Kids Of Colour

AN ORGANISATION founded to give a platform to young people of colour has begun a series of workshops in Manchester, leading with a look at mental health.

Kids of Colour was established earlier this year to enable youngsters to share their experiences and express how they feel about their community and society. The recent event was an opportunity for the general public, who may be unaware of the challenges faced by young people of col- our in society, to communicate with and learn from them.

ISOLATED

Kids of Colour founder Roxy Legane said: “I wanted people to gain empathy for a demographic who are so often dehumanised. Additionally, I wanted people of colour to hear stories and experiences that they could connect with and to feel less isolated.”

More than 65 people attended Kids of Colour on Mental Health, held at the Nexus Art Café in the city centre. Roxy’s main objectives were to al- low the discourse of race to be openly discussed and for people to appreciate young people of colour as “human, as op- posed to what they see in the media”.

“My mission was to get people to recognise how we are all led to feel less for young people of colour through media rhetoric and stereotypes. I also wanted them to realise the need to challenge everything we have taken in subconsciously as a result of a racist society and instead listen to real people,” Roxy added.

For the past six months Roxy has been creating videos that document the experiences of young people of colour in the UK. Despite the fact that each story was unique, thematic issues began to emerge, which led her to co-ordinate this series of events, the first of which looked at mental health.

“It was overwhelmingly clear just how tired and mentally exhausted young people are from dealing with the challenges they face due to racism on a daily basis. Racism isn’t just an aggressive slur, it’s waking up every day in a country that was built on inequality and made for white people and then having to be brown or black in that country.”

On the night, speeches were delivered by a panel, followed by a question-and-answer session and concluding with an open discussion about race and racism. The audience heard from three young people who have been a part of the project along with Saiqa Naz, a cognitive behavioural therapist, and Penny Wangari-Jones from the Racial Justice Network.

EMBRACE

Attendees came from across the North West and were from all walks of life, ranging in age from eight to 50. One 12-year-old participant said: “I need to recognise that all white people are not against you.”

Another young woman added: “I need to recognise my own mental health as a black woman. I am going to start talking about it more, not just to black people but to all people of colour and white people. The public needs to be more transparent about race and we need to embrace it in a way where everyone can learn as a community.”

The next event, Kids of Colour on Education, will be held on November 20 at Waterstones on Deansgate, Manchester, from 6pm and tickets can be purchased on Eventbrite. A further two events – covering conformity and racism – will follow.

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