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  Race riots
Updated 03 January 2002, 16.15
Rioters in Bradford

Citizenship 11-14/KS3/Levels E&F
Race and religion

Petrol bombs and stones were thrown on the streets of Bradford.

This activity encourages children to discuss what caused this to happen.

Learning aims

  • Learn what is meant by a race riot
  • Learn what caused the Bradford riots
  • Discuss what could help to prevent race riots
Explain that the term 'race riot' is used to describe disorder with a racial element. The rioters normally come from one racial group, and the riots happen near where the rioters live.

Discussion Points
[A] Do students know what it is like to get more and more annoyed with someone or something, until eventually they lose their temper?

[B] Have they ever lost their temper with their friends or family over a small thing, because that person had been winding them up for a long time?

[C] What would make young people from one racial group angry enough to riot?

[D] Who would the rioters be most likely to attack?

Main activity
Explain that there are three elements in a race riot:

Tension - a build up of anger due to racism
Trigger - an event that starts the riot
Consequences - the riot and its aftermath

Fires were lit by rioters
Students write a brief description (six sentences) of a real or imagined example of them losing their temper. The report should be in three sections: Tension, trigger and consequences.

The Bradford Riots
Students make a cartoon strip or flow chart to show what happened in Bradford. They should identify the tension, trigger and consequences.

  • (1) The white and Asian communities don't mix much, they become suspicious of each other.
  • (2) Older white teenagers attack younger Asians because they see them as 'different'.
  • (3) Asian youths form self-defence groups to back each other up.
  • (4) Asian young people feel more confident and hang out on the street more.
  • (5) Some young white people feel threatened by the Asian youth and get involved with groups like the BNP (British National Party), a party with racist policies.
  • (6) There are rumours that a march through Bradford will be organised by racists.
  • (7) Asian men gather to oppose the march.
  • (8) A group of white men come out of a pub and shout abuse at the Asian demonstrators.
  • (9) A fight breaks out and many people become involved.
  • (10)Shops and pubs are attacked, petrol bombs are thrown, the police are called in, the rioters attack them.

Extension activity
Devise a survey to see if there is any tension building up between groups at school. Use social or geographical groups so that the students are ethnically mixed - this allows students in dominant groups to feel what it is like to be a minority.

Look at the finished flow chart, or sequence of events. Which were the points where something could have been done to stop the riot?What could have been done?
Explain that race riots are a smaller problem caused by a bigger problem of racial discrimination.

Teachers' Background
Taken from comments by criminologist Dr Colin Webster quoted in a BBC news online report 'Riots and the search for respect':

  • Asian people have been living in Bradford for nearly sixty years.
  • They moved to the north of England from Pakistan and Bangladesh to work in the textile industry.
  • Between 1975 and 1985 the textile industry collapsed due to global competition - ironically the trade moved to the Asian sub-continent.
  • Many of the first and second generation immigrants became unemployed, they lacked the qualifications to get new jobs.
  • Today Asian families have some of the worst housing and schools.
  • Poor education means that large numbers of under qualified Asians are trying to enter a depressed job market.
  • In Bradford and Oldham racial segregation appears to be increasing as white people leave areas and schools perceived as Asian.

Turn this into an assembly
  • Draw an analogy with animosity towards students from other schools, this can be caused by lack of contact and mistrust.
  • Describe a day in the life of a student at a school 'in this area' make the description vague enough that students think you are talking about their own school.
    • For example for first lesson she has maths, the teacher is always scruffy and in a bad mood etc.
    • At break time she meets her friends and they hang out in the corner of the playground, it's cold and they don't have anywhere proper to go but the teachers don't seem to care.
    • Finally the student mentions that life is a lot different at the rival school, and names it as your school.
  • Explain that we all harbour prejudice towards things we do not understand. Getting to know other cultures and other peoples can stop mistrust and prevent the build up of tension.

More InfoBORDER=0
UKSegregation causes riots
Find OutGuide to racism
ChatKids comment on the riots


Web Links
Commision for Racial Equality
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