‘If an apple is a foreign apple you have to wash it very carefully’: Youth discourses on racism

A1 Journal article (refereed)

Internal Authors/Editors

Publication Details

List of Authors: Alemanji A., Dervin F.
Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd
Publication year: 2016
Journal: Education, Citizenship and Social Justice
Volume number: 11
Issue number: 3
Start page: 199
End page: 212
ISSN: 17461987 17461979


This study offers a critique of the questions used in anti-racism
discourse and education. It discusses the dangers of asking if a person
or group is racist and the possible consequences such questions could
have on people’s discourses and attitudes. Reactions or responses to the
questions can vary from anger, defence of self against other, denial of
racism and/or a strong far-right nationalistic feelings. The questions
examined in this study were used in a workshop about racism in Finnish
upper secondary schools. Our main interest lays in examining how
questions produce or affect discourses, particularly the kinds of
discourses that arise as the students reflect and respond to these
questions in small groups. By analysing these discourses we are able to
get an insight into how students construct an understanding of racism
vis-à-vis the issues of nationality, family, self and others. Our
findings are suggestive of the fact that students’ understanding of
racism is often limited to individual acts of racism rather than an
understanding of racism as a system of oppression. The paper calls for
the need to reassess the questions used in anti-racism discourse or
education that do not necessarily lead to progressive discourse on the
issue of racism. We also call for teachers using these questions to
closely follow up how students interpret and discuss the topic of


anti-racism education, non-formal education, racism

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