It is important to remember that every person from an ethnic minority background who comes through the door of a u3a meeting for the first time may have been at the receiving end of multiple racial taunts, slurs, and possibly even violent attack based on their skin colour or perceived national or racial origin.
Just as we don’t need to know exactly why a potential member is using a wheelchair, the back story of their poor vision or deafness, or the age at which they first discovered or acted on their gender dysphoria or their non-binary sexuality, we do not need to know the details of a person’s ethnic, cultural or religious background to accept them as a u3a member. We should accept each of our members on the equal basis that they have an interest in the topic or activity in which they are taking part, and welcome their participation, their shared ideas and experience and their unique perspective on life, on the same basis as we would welcome a person whom we identify as more like ourselves.
To ensure that all members feel at ease and valued, we should avoid asking personal questions about people's origins, beliefs and experiences and never make assumptions about them. We can ask new members if there is anything that they would like group leaders and members to know about them when they are being introduced for the first time and/or give them a chance to introduce themselves on their own terms.
If any member has concerns or complaints about discriminatory behaviour, we must listen to them carefully and deal with the issues transparently; accept responsibility or blame where necessary and try to put things right without being defensive or self-justifying.
We must also find the courage to speak out if we become aware of a member exhibiting racial or ethnic bias or intolerance towards another.
The organisations listed here support racial equality and diversity through education and research.