Coalition for Racial Equality & Rights

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423

Racist incidents in Schools – Scotland needs a new approach

Scotland’s schools have recorded over 3,000 racist incidents in the past five years, according to figures obtained by the Liberal Democrats through Freedom of Information requests. While this may seem shocking to some, we’re confident that it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

In 2012, CRER undertook detailed research into racist incident recording practices and policies in Scotland’s schools. What we found was a patchy, problematic range of approaches. Based on research carried out by Respectme and LGBT Youth Scotland for the Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2015, little appears to have changed since then.

In our experience, two key problems make racist incident recording in Scotland’s schools ineffective. Firstly, a lack of understanding of the nature of racism and its impact in schools beyond direct cases of bullying; and secondly, disjointed recording processes and practices within schools.

Scotland’s education departments have had plenty of time to develop effective policy and practice in this area. Recording of all racist incidents in schools was a key recommendation of the Macpherson Report, the publication which cemented the definition of a racist incident as ‘Any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or any other person’ in 1999.

That understanding seems to have rolled back, replaced by a defensive arrogance which both misinterprets what racism means and puts more emphasis on pandering to white sensitivities about ‘being called racist’ than it does on protecting children from racism. This attitude persists despite the clear fact that it’s the incident (not the child or the school) which is being recorded as ‘racist’.

However, our 2012 research did find some examples of good policy making in local authority education departments on racist incident recording. This should be capitalised on at a national level so that children in all areas can benefit, putting an end to the current ‘post code lottery’ approach which makes it so difficult for parents in some areas to challenge schools’ failure to deal with racism.

In our experience, racism in schools is still a serious problem and we are not convinced that current approaches to tackling it are working. Even although we aren’t funded to provide advice services, CRER regularly hears from parents whose children have faced serious harassment, physical violence and psychological torment at the hands of their classmates. In many cases, these parents report being dismissed, belittled and (somewhat ironically) even bullied when they try to seek help for their children. And it’s not just school children who are affected. The majority of perpetrators of racist hate crimes in Scotland are young men who have recently been through the school system. If the system was working properly, they would know better.

In an interview with the Times Educational Supplement, Louis Kushnick (race equality activist and Professor Emeritus at Manchester University) put forward a strong argument for mandatory incident reporting as a tool for social change: “Do we want a society characterised by stupidity, bigotry and ignorance? Or do we want our children to be at ease with the world? ...If we don’t raise our children to be decent human beings, they’ll bring into school what they’re consuming elsewhere and no one will challenge it... If you don’t have monitoring you have no way of identifying the scale of the problem. And if you leave it up to schools, there’s no reward for flagging it up.” Our research supports that view.

The EHRC’s research from 2015 also demonstrated that while practice on race is mixed, most other forms of prejudice based incident aren’t recorded at all. But with no central guidance or collation of statistics to give momentum to this work, it’s perhaps little wonder that practice is often so poor. It’s time for Scotland to develop a national strategy on recording and responding to all forms of prejudice based incidents in schools. Our children’s wellbeing depends on it.

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585

‘Post-ref’ racism and five ways to tackle it

With the upsurge in media coverage of racism linked to ‘Brexit’, people have increasingly been asking CRER about getting involved in tackling racism and hate crime. This was a pleasant surprise for us. We deal with these issues on a day to day basis and have done for almost twenty years, so it’s refreshing to see so many people willing to stand up against racism (although it’s worth mentioning that concerns raised by Black activists about the tone of the current debate do resonate with us).

Whether you’re new to anti-racism or just looking for a different approach, there are dozens of ways to take action now and in the future. However you do it, the important thing is to build anti-racism into your day to day life; not just now, but for the long-run.

Here are our five top suggestions:

  1. Build a strong understanding of race and racism, and share this understanding with family, friends and colleagues. This will help increase the number of people who can make strong arguments against racism in all its forms:
  • Our ‘Changing the Race Equality Paradigm’ guide for organisations highlights some of the key concepts.
  • Websites like Media Diversified and Runnymede’s Race Matters have a range of articles that look at current affairs issues from a race perspective.
  • Finding out about Scotland’s Black History can help to challenge assumptions about minority ethnic communities in Scotland. There’s no one comprehensive source of information on this, but some resources are available on this page from Education Scotland. We co-ordinate Glasgow’s annual Black History Month programme of events; sign up to our email list if you’d like to receive more details later this year about the 2016 programme.

 

  1. Directly challenge racism and hate speech whenever it occurs, in a way that’s effective and safe:
  1. Report any racist incidents you see, whether in public spaces or online:
  • We developed a guide to responding to and reporting online hate speech; it also explores the difference between hate crime and hate speech.
  • If you witness a racist incident or hate crime in Scotland, you can report it to Police Scotland even if you weren’t the person being targeted.
  • If you see racist materials (for example posters, stickers or graffiti) in a public place, you can report it to your local Council’s environmental department (in Glasgow, there’s a dedicated Environmental Task Force). Materials intended to stir up racial hatred can also be reported to Police Scotland.
  • Report any racist incidents at work, College or University under the relevant policies, and support colleagues or fellow students who are complaining about racism.

 

  1. Encourage your local politicians to take action against racism:
  • Write to MPs, MSPs and local Councillors to ask what they are doing to tackle racism and racial inequalities, and encourage them to speak up on race equality.
  • Ask your local politicians to support local or national anti-racist campaigns.
  • If you’re a political party member, encourage your local branch to actively recruit more minority ethnic members and to encourage and support them to stand as election candidates.
  •  
  1. Work with others to tackle racism:
  • Some employers have equality committees or equality champion schemes you could get involved in. If not, there are often likeminded colleagues you could join up with to think about how to promote race equality at work.
  • You could help to arrange or promote anti-racist training opportunities at work. Ideally, encourage your employer to provide this widely to staff rather than just those who already have an interest.
  • Some Colleges and Universities have Students’ Union officers responsible for equality. They should be able to advise you about any opportunities to get involved in anti-racist activities on campus.
  • Universities can apply to join the ECU’s Race Equality Charter scheme.
  • You can support campaigning groups and get involved with community organisations. All organisations work in different ways, so opportunities range from volunteering to holding a fundraiser, donating money or attending a protest rally. Not all organisations advertise for volunteers or have formal volunteering processes (particularly smaller community groups) but if you can offer practical help, some will welcome informal involvement – so if you are aware of a local group you’d like to support, there’s no harm in getting in touch to offer your assistance. Most formal volunteering opportunities will be advertised through local Volunteer Centres.

 

As you’ll gather from our ‘Changing the Race Equality Paradigm’ guide, CRER’s focus is on tackling structural and institutional racism, so we’re particularly keen to see more individuals pushing for change in the institutions they’re involved in.

Tackling these entrenched forms of racism is especially important for the future generations of young minority ethnic Scots who will continue to face racism based on their skin colour. Xenophobia against white migrants (horrifying as it may be) thankfully often tails off once families have settled here. Their children grow up being perceived by others as Scottish; they look ‘Scottish’ and sound ‘Scottish’.

Black minority ethnic Scots whose grandparents were born here, on the other hand, continue to face the eternal question: “Where are you from?”

The attitude that underlies that question in ‘friendly’ small talk is the same one which leads to racist violence. Assumptions about whether someone belongs or not. About who is ‘welcome here’ – and, for that matter, who has the power and privilege to ‘welcome’ another person to their own home in the first place.

Truthfully, there’s nothing particularly new or different about the racism we’re seeing following the EU referendum. What’s really remarkable is the strength of the current public outcry against it, and the opportunity this brings to build support for anti-racism in Scotland.

We know from previous experience that the media will soon shift its focus away from hate crime, abuse and inequality. It never had much focus to begin with on the less dramatic but equally damaging racial inequalities people face in employment, income and political representation.

It’s up to all of us to keep anti-racism at the top of the agenda.

 

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671



Rights to Realities – The International Convention for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

 

This August, CRER will be reporting to the United Nations that, despite 41 years of commitment, BME people continue to face barriers in employment, political participation and accessing services such as health care . This discrimination is not inevitable, and with your support we can demonstrate to the UN how racial equality can be achieved in Scotland.

On 21st December 1965 the International Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) was adopted and opened for signature by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. It entered into force on 4 January 1969, which was ten years after Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus, four years after the Race Relations Act 1965 and 28 years before the official ‘end ’ of the British Empire.

Today the Convention has 88 signatories and 177 parties from across the world. ICERD requires state parties to submit a periodic report every few years on how they have complied with their ICERD obligations and then examines the states parties on their submissions, usually every four or five years; this is known as the examination process.

As well as the government report, civil society organisations (CSOs) and National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) are encouraged to submit reports on the government’s report. These can provide important alternative information to the Committee.

Later this summer CRER and other anti-racism organisations throughout the UK will be submitting comprehensive evidence that on-going systematic discrimination of Black and minority ethnic (BME) groups continues in our country.

The importance of human rights conventions in tackling inequality cannot be underplayed. With more and more organisations and Governments  taking a ‘rights-based approach’ to policy, human rights are no longer abstract ideas confined to committees in Europe. They have become the minimum standards that every citizen expects from each other, but most importantly they have protected marginalised groups from their own Governments.

At the last set of UK hearings, in 2011, the UN recommended that the UK State “develop and adopt a detailed action plan, with targets and monitoring procedures, in consultation with minority and ethnic groups, for tackling race inequality.” On 21st March, the Scottish Government did just that when they launched the Race Equality Framework for Scotland 2016-2030. Yet this is not the time to be complacent.

The Framework was an excellent example of how the Scottish Government worked with partners, BME communities, academics and civic society to set out their ambitions for tackling racism in Scotland. It will not be achieved without continued commitment and resources from all that helped to shape it. Making a strong representation to ICERD is one way to keep the pressure on and ensure the Framework delivers on its promises to minority ethnic communities.

Working with the Runnymede Trust, CRER has helped to publish key evidence of where discrimination still exists within Scotland which we will present to the UN this August. Further to this, we have set out our ambitions for how the rights of BME people can be further protected, enhanced and ultimately – realised every day.

In order for this to happen we need your support.

Runnymede has now incorporated our Scottish evidence and specific recommendations in a UK-wide NGO Shadow Report which will be presented to the UN Committee. We ask that your organisation now support this shadow report to display the shared commitment that we all have to achieving racial equality in Scotland.

The UK NGO Shadow Report to CERD and further information on how your organisation can support it can be found here: http://www.runnymedetrust.org/projects-and-publications/europe/cerd.html

Further details on the ICERD and the UN Committee on Eliminating Racial Discrimination can be found here: http://www.runnymedetrust.org/uploads/From%20local%20voices%20to%20global%20audience.%202015..pdf


A copy of the CRER's Scotland-specific Alternative Report as submitted for the 2011 UK hearings can be downloaded here. We are planning to present an updated Scotland specific alternative report for the 2016 hearings and this will be published on our website in July 2016.

Lesley Warren

CRER

 

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540

Three urgent equality requests from the Scottish Government at the beginning of the new parliamentary term

 

The 2011-2016 term of the Scottish Parliament saw significant strides forward for equality, including the introduction of the Scottish-specific public sector equality duty, passage of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014, the lowering of the voting age in the independence referendum and Scottish elections to 16, the development of the Equally Safe strategy, and the publication of the Race Equality Framework for Scotland. Ahead of the recent election, most Scottish political parties made commitments to equality in their manifestos, with some stronger and more specific than others.

However, despite promises and precedent, we know that making continuing progress on equality is a long and difficult process which requires considerable political will. As such, CRER has written today to the First Minister with three urgent requests to push forward the equality agenda in the new parliamentary term.

 

A Dedicated Minister for Equality

CRER believes there is merit in creating a ministerial post focused solely on equality, rather than including it as part of a wider remit or portfolio. Much more practical work remains to be done to promote equality for all those who face discrimination. The task of successfully implementing initiatives and strategies and of creating additional legislation and schemes needed to address issues for many equality groups is significant and expansive and deserves a dedicated focus.

Social justice and equality work are not the same. The former is largely concerned with income inequality and poverty, whereas equality seeks to address the prejudice and discrimination (both personal and institutional) faced by individuals because of who they are. These agendas are certainly related, but should not be conflated. With plans to progress the Fairer Scotland Action Plan and to introduce a socio-economic duty for public sector bodies, the Scottish Government would benefit from separating these two agendas to ensure each area of policy receives specific focus and expertise to effectively tackle inequality for all.

Furthermore, appointing a government minister to focus specifically on equality would send a strong message to the equality sector and to community members affected by equality issues that the Scottish Government values its commitment to equality and intends to keep it as a key priority area in the coming years.

 

Equality Impact Assessment of the Programme for Government

As legislation passes through the Scottish Parliament, it must undergo an Equality Impact Assessment (EqIA) to ensure that it does not have a negative impact on groups with protected characteristics, to determine if there is a differential impact on any one group in particular, and to highlight opportunities to promote equality that may have been missed.

Given this, CRER asked the First Minister to ensure that the upcoming programme for government itself be assessed prior to its announcement in the Scottish Parliament. Significant consideration must be given to the aims and potential effects of legislation and initiatives on equality. Performing an EqIA on the programme for government would offer a strategic method to identify the impact of these commitments and demonstrate that the Scottish Government is being conscientious and considered about equality.

 

Dedicated Resources for the Race Equality Framework for Scotland

The recently published Race Equality Framework for Scotland 2016-2030 made several promises to improve racial equality across a variety of sectors including education, employment, health, housing, justice, and participation. Given the fifteen year life of the Framework, CRER is mindful that the pledges made to communities require sustained resourcing and commitment to be successful in the long-term. It is exceptionally important that the Scottish Government recognises this and sets aside the resources needed to successfully implement the Framework in the coming years. Without this, it will fail to achieve the results promised and minority ethnic communities will continue to face racial discrimination and inequality.

At the start of the new parliamentary session, it is important that the equality sector and community groups hold MSPs and the Scottish Government to account for their commitments to equality. Fulfilling these three requests would go a long way to demonstrate that equality will remain high on the agenda in the term ahead.

 

Published: 12th May

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751

Race equality in 2016 party manifestos

Author Dorothea Brande once said, “A problem clearly stated is a problem half solved.”

In the case of tackling racial inequality in Scotland, several political parties are neither interested in stating the problem nor developing policies to solve it, at least according to their 2016 election manifestos.

The problem is that minority ethnic groups in Scotland are disadvantaged and discriminated against in a range of measures. 28% of Scots feel that there is sometimes a good reason to be prejudiced against certain groups, while 21% of those from non-white minority ethnic groups reported experiencing discrimination compared to only 6% of their white counterparts. 4,807 racist incidents occurred in Scotland in 2013/2014 and racist hate crime continues to be the most commonly reported hate crime in Scotland. Minority ethnic groups are under-represented in Scottish politics, with 1-2% of MPs, MSPs, and councillors from a non-white minority ethnic background, compared to 4% of the population. Those from non-white minority ethnic groups are underemployed at a much higher rate than those from white ethnic groups and the poverty rate for all minority ethnic groups is twice that of the white British poverty rate, despite minority ethnic children out-performing white ethnic pupils in school. Clearly, something is wrong in Scottish society.

Despite this, not every party standing candidates for election even mentioned racial equality in their manifestos, let alone set out ways to challenge and overcome this inequality.

Commendation must be given to the parties that not only stated the problem, but also offered solutions. The Scottish Green Party highlighted the issue of racial discrimination both for UK-born individuals and for refugees and first-generation migrants, and addressed issues including hate crime, education, political representation and participation, employment, poverty, and cultural diversity. They were also one of two parties who committed to the implementation of the Race Equality Framework for Scotland, alongside the Scottish National Party.

The Scottish Labour Party however have stated in their manifesto that they would consult with communities and publish a strategy to break down barriers faced by minority ethnic people. There is no mention of the (recently launched) Race Equality Framework for Scotland which compiled a huge database of information through public consultations. Likewise they state the many ways in which they wish to tackle inequality in education and employment, but make no mention of black and minority ethnic people and the specific barriers they face, or of the evidence that the Scottish Parliamentary inquiry published on race and employment.

The Scottish Labour party also published a BME-specific manifesto in addition to a disabilities, an LGBTI, and a women’s manifesto. While the BME manifesto was not well publicised, it addressed topics including opportunity, public life and representation, the economy, justice and health.

RISE: Scotland’s Left Alliance dedicated a section of their manifesto to “anti-racism” and stated that they are an anti-racist organisation with a “zero-tolerance policy towards racism.” Their manifesto highlighted policies to improve Scotland’s awareness of racial inequality (both historical and modern), address institutional racism, end racist hiring practices, improve political representation for minority ethnic groups, and tackle racist policing.

The Scottish National Party pledged to appoint a Race Framework Advisor to implement a range of actions to tackle existing inequalities in minority ethnic communities in line with the Race Equality Framework for Scotland. The only other race-specific policy detailed in the party’s manifesto addressed increasing minority ethnic representation in Modern Apprenticeships. The manifesto addresses wider equality issues and states that teachers will be expected to undertake equality training to address prejudice-based bullying, police officers will receive appropriate training to investigate hate crimes, and public authorities will be required to gather diversity information to use it to inform employment practices.

Other parties mentioned racial equality, but this was alongside other equality areas and did not offer policies particular to tackling racism and discrimination. The Women’s Equality Party noted that women experience additional inequalities due to ethnicity, alongside other characteristics such as sexuality, gender identity, and class. Their manifesto highlighted issues of poverty, violence, hate crime, political representation, and media representation with the effect of these issues on BME women detailed alongside the effect on disabled women, LGBT+ people, and disabled people.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats asserted that there should be equal opportunity for everyone regardless of their race, sexuality, gender, religion, disability. One policy in particular applies to minority ethnic people – forming a stakeholder group to propose new ways to tackle the barriers to equal representation in senior roles in the police and education services.

However, the Scottish Conservative and UKIP did not address racism, racial equality, or issues facing minority ethnic groups in their manifestos.

While much progress has been made since the 2011 manifestos (when a vast majority of parties did not mention racial equality or racism at all), there is still much work to be done to convince parties that racial equality must be a policy priority.

Before politicians can put forward policies to tackle racial inequality, they must be willing to talk about it. For several parties, the 2016 manifestos were a missed opportunity to do just that.

NB: Please note, this blog was updated on 9th May 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

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