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Are Students Being Racist Towards Me?

By: Emma Jones - Updated: 15 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Are Students Being Racist Towards Me?


I work in catering - a restaurant inside a college for mostly African and Indian students here in England. They are very rude and have no good manners at all. Recently, we have been trying to talk to them about polite words in this country, such as please, thank you or can I have.....but they say if they are paying for the food they don't need the words. Also, because I am not English myself, I think they feel there is no need to be polite.

Is this a case of racism? What should I do?

Thank you for your help

(A.B, 20 March 2009)


It is never a pleasant experience to be faced with people who have bad manners or are not polite to you - especially when this is your place of work and you are being faced with it every day. It can make your job difficult and stressful and leave you feeling unwilling or unable to work.

The students that you are catering for sound like they could definitely benefit form some common courtesy but it is difficult to say, from the information you have provided, whether they are being racist or just simply rude.

The distinction is whether they are singling you out and giving you abuse because of your race or just because they are not blessed with good manners. Do they abuse you and not your colleagues who are of a different race or skin colour? Do the students ever call you any racist names or seem to target you as an individual? Does their behaviour change if there is a manager or tutor of another race around?

If you think that they are targeting you over and above other colleagues of different races, singling you out because of your skin colour or are using any kind of racist language towards you then yes, this could be considered a case of racism. However, if they are just rude people with bad manners then it is not racism. While it does not excuse their behaviour and they do not have a right to talk to you in that way, unless they are singling you out because of your race, then their behaviour is not fuelled by racism.

The first step is to keep a record of what they say to you. Pay attention to the language or names that they use and whether it seems to be directed at you over and above colleagues of other races. If you find that it is then you can use this log to start a formal complaint within your company. If not, then you should still address their behaviour, you should not have to face abuse at work so talk to your manager about what could be done to make you feel more comfortable in your workplace.

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