An Iranian-born man has been the target of racial abuse since moving to England and now wants to encourage people to understand the power of their words.
Matin Zoormand, 18, moved to South Shields when he was eight years old after his father had no choice but to flee Iran and start a new life.
‘My first encounter with racism was at a very young age,’ explained Matin, from Southampton. ‘Sadly, I've had many racist encounters but as a child I wondered why people were doing these horrible things to us, and only us.’
After Matin and his family arrived in the UK, he thought they would be free from the prejudice and hate they had experienced but instead it worsened.
‘I remember walking home from school with my mum and dad and being attacked by three white men. They shouted racial slurs at us whilst throwing potatoes.
‘I remember, I don't know how, but I remember the racial slurs that they were shouting. They yelled “immigrants! Go back to your country you terrorists”.
‘It made me feel like I was back in Iran all over again, a place we left for our own protection. People think racism no longer exists but it really does,’ Matin added.
Matin teamed up with Fixers and made a film called ‘talk about racism’ where young people give insights about racism they’ve experienced, calling for people to think before they speak.
The Independent obtained data through a freedom of information request revealed the number of hate crimes that occurred in and around schools and colleges soared by 62 per cent in the space of a year (2017).
Race-related crimes made up 71 per cent of those recorded in the last two years.
‘If someone punches you in the same spot 100 times it’s going to hurt, it’s not about the power but about the repetition,’ said Matin.
‘I’ve had such negative experiences and now I wonder how I’ll turn that hate into love.’
This project was supported by the Blagrave Trust.
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