As part of a major national campaign to help eliminate racism from British football – Show Racism the Red Card – specialist DNA testing services firm DNA Worldwide Group has teamed up with the campaign’s organisers to roll out an educational programme in schools.
Despite genetic research finding that all humans are around 99.5 % genetically identical, historically misconceptions around the physiological differences between different races have created extreme and xenophobic beliefs. We only have to review the annals of history to see the damage these extreme beliefs have inflicted on societies around the world, and sadly they continue to have an influence in many areas and sections of global society.
Show Racism the Red Card was established in 1996 and the organisation has been successfully challenging racist ideas in society, education and sport by hosting informative events in schools, workplaces and stadiums for the past 18 years.
In this latest move, Frome-based DNA Worldwide Group is using its considerable genetics expertise for a project which will test children’s DNA in schools to reinforce the message that everyone’s make-up is similar, and we all have DNA from many different parts of the world.
DNA director, David Nicholson, argues that the views of children are greatly influenced by those around them, such as parents and teachers, who have a responsibility to raise and nurture them.
He said: "Why do we find children who naturally see no difference between one another regardless of skin colour change their views as they grow older?
"The problem is both simple and complex; parents, peers and society can have extreme or hidden views which get imposed on our children.
"The children start to think this is normal and another generation with the same issues develops and the problem is perpetuated."
What is it Trying to Achieve?
This joint project is designed to eradicate these misconceptions by showing the children that they do in fact have ancestors from all over the world, and it is hoped that they will reach adulthood with the knowledge to combat many of the misperceptions that society has about race, thereby breaking the aforementioned cycle.
Education manager at Show Racism the Red Card charity, Jeff Morgan, said some of the young people he meets have very fixed views.
"Some of the young people we meet have very fixed views on immigration, views which are often comprised of untruths and myths. We feel these tests will really open their eyes to the history of migration and their own heritage being not necessarily 100 percent British and questioning why this would matter.
“We think that this unique approach will have a long-lasting impact, changing perceptions of themselves and the world around them and challenging the 'us and them' racist ideology."
Nicholson added: "It will be wonderful to see the children being armed with information that helps them stay firm to what the young children feel – that skin colour does not make you different."
Similar campaigns are occurring globally – in Brazil a campaign called 'We R no race" aims to DNA test all footballers taking part in the 2014 World Cup, and potentially all Olympians in 2016, in order to show that human beings are all genetically similar.
With increasing understanding of human genetics and awareness projects such as these, it is hoped that misperceptions about race will continue to be challenged.