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586

‘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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672



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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3314

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'I don’t want to make a fuss, I just want to ignore it.’
 

Everyday Racism
by Zandra Yeaman

Recent news has once again highlighted the issues of racism in Scotland and has led to some Facebook friends having to use their click power to unfriend people they have decided are racist.

The fear of being called racist has put many on the defensive. But as a colleague of mine pointed out, ‘being called “racist” is not an insult. It’s an adjective to describe something which prioritises the importance and value of one ethnic group’s identity, appearance, culture or way of life over others. It’s the assumption that your cultural viewpoint is the right way, the best way – everything else is an anomaly, to be tolerated at best and eradicated at worst.’ (http://www.crer.org.uk/crerblog?start=20)

Most people seem to think of racism in its extreme forms of a white person physically attacking a black person, or in overt forms such as a banana being thrown at a black footballer. However every day racism not only includes these forms of oppression but also racist practice that goes unnoticed but is nonetheless still felt strongly by Black Minority Ethnic (BME) people on a daily basis.

Despite BME people living with the anticipation that racial discrimination can (even will) happen, and this in itself is stressful, what is usually forgotten is that most BME people are not overly sensitive to racial discrimination; in fact many are reluctant to label behaviour as racist before giving the situation serious consideration.  No one wants to feel humiliated because of who they are or because of the colour of their skin.

Let’s pause for a moment and consider some examples of what everyday racism looks like:

Politicians make discriminatory statements such as ‘British jobs for British workers’;

Daily Mail cartoon depicting black people in the jungle along with a headline “‘Am I Black?’ asks Tom Jones”.

Teachers sharing Britain First posts with racist sentiments with their classes;

White people rolling their eyes at yet another challenge to their racist joke (and then complaining ‘you can’t say anything these days without the fear of being accused as racist’);

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4659

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Black History Month is an opportunity to mark the struggles and successes of Black people in the past and present; issues which may have been forgotten about or are absent from our history books and the education system.

In Scotland, it has been celebrated since 2001. Here, Black History Month has encompassed the history of African, Caribbean and Asian people in this country; people who often have a direct link with Scotland through slavery or colonialism. It is a time to acknowledge the contributions, sacrifices and achievements that have been made which inspire us, but also a time to remember, and take the opportunity to apply the lessons of the past to build upon our future.

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14859

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"I call on all people, especially political, civic and religious leaders, to strongly condemn messages and ideas based on racism, racial superiority or hatred as well as those that incite racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance."

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

  

International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is observed annually on the 21st March to commemorate the day in 1960 where police opened fire and killed 69 people at a peaceful demonstration in Sharpeville, South Africa. The official day was proclaimed six years later by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in a call to the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination. 

The 21st of March this year, marks the first celebration of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination since the death of former South African President Nelson Mandela. President Mandela’s legacy is particularly relevant to the 21st March celebrations due to his historic struggle against apartheid and the victory over racist forces in South Africa. 

This year the UN has decided to honour the courageous struggle of an extraordinary leader in the fight against racism and chosen “The Role of Leaders in Combatting Racism and Racial Discrimination” as the 2014 theme for International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. 

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16269

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As we mark the 60th Anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights coming in to force, CRER believes it is time to stand up and remind people of the facts behind the Convention, how we all benefit from the rights that it protects and why we should oppose any attempts to undermine the Convention.

The European Convention on Human Rights was the first Council of Europe’s convention aiming at protecting human rights. Its ratification is a prerequisite for joining the Council of Europe.  It was adopted in 4 November 1950 and entered into force on September 3rd 1953. The United Kingdom was among the first states to ratify the ECHR and played a pivotal role in its creation. The UK accepted the right of individuals to take a case to Strasbourg and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights in 1966. 

The Convention guarantees a range of political rights and freedoms of the individual against interference by the State. Before the incorporation of the Convention, individuals in the United Kingdom could only complain of unlawful interference with their Convention rights by lodging a petition with the European Commission of Human Rights in Strasbourg. That all changed on 2 October 2000 when the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA)came into force, allowing UK citizens to sue public bodies for breaches of their Convention rights in domestic courts. 

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18471

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"The Movement today for freedom cannot be pushed back anymore than a tidal wave can be pushed back by hand. That which seeks to destroy the freedom of Man, seeks to destroy the soul of Man."


Medgar Evers, May 31, 1959

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