Teacher tells shocking story of her treatment after opposing racist colleagues

3 June 2020, 16:51 | Updated: 3 June 2020, 20:22

By Fiona Jones

This teacher told LBC the shocking story of what happened when a fellow teacher made an appalling remark about a black child - and what happened to her when she stood up against it.

Sophie, who is of Pakistani descent and a person of colour, told Shelagh Fogarty that her life is a "litany of racist events" however, she refuses to let it affect her negatively.

"When you're a person of colour and you're talking about race you almost have to validate your experiences by being calm, you don't want to be accused of being angry," she said, quoting people who have told her she "sounds like she has a chip on her shoulder."

She was a teacher in schools and this shocking story of racism is one of the reasons she changed her path.

Sophie used to work in a school in the Grenfell area which was 98% BAME people and 2% white people - the staff were conversely 98% Caucasian and 2% people of colour.

"I sat in the staff room one day and we were talking about a child one day who was a very very troubled child from a very troubled background, and I was discussing how we could help this young black boy move forward and how we could enable him to reach levels of success so that he would be confident in his next stage of life."

A white teacher asked Sophie why she was bothered and Sophie asked for clarification. The white teacher said: "Well you know where they all end up anyway, you know what's going to happen to them."

"I took a moment and I looked at him and said I really really need you to clarify what you're saying because I don't want to misunderstand," Sophie said.

The teacher responded: "Well you know...boys like him will end up on the street, they'll end up getting arrested and they'll end up in jail."

Sophie said, "I felt like someone had slapped me. This is an educator. This is a teacher....you don't have to dig deep to find these stories if you talk to black people and people of colour.... and when he said that there was a titter of laughter."

After complaining she was given the cold shoulder by the other teachers and was asked to go off sick because she complained which she refused. She also took the story to the newspaper and was "shut down at every step of the way."

Sophie also let her daughter attend the Black Lives Matter protests because all her friends are minorities and despite being fearful of her health, "if I didn't let her go, the effect psychologically it would have had on her would have been far worse."

"She said you haven't brought me up to be shushed, you haven't brought me up to not fight for justice, to fight for the underdog," Sophie said.