Blog Archive

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Statement by BARAC UK & Sarah Reed Campaign for Justice representatives on withdrawal from the Women of the World (WOW) festival

Statement by Zita Holbourne, Co-Chair:  Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK & Donna McKoy, Chair: Sarah Reed Campaign for Justice (SRCfJ).
During this week commencing 6 March, we have been in dialogue with Jude Kelly, Artistic Director at the Southbank Centre regarding the decision to host a rapist at the Women of the World (WOW) Festival this weekend, in ‘South of Forgiveness’. 
Whilst we respect the right of Thordis Elva to deal with being raped in the way she feels is right for her, we do not accept the imposition of her rapist's presence on other women, some of whom may also be survivors of rape and at risk of being further traumatised by his presence. That WOW could ever have considered it acceptable to schedule a male rapist to address a woman's festival with no apparent concern for the impact of his presence, or the response, is astonishing. We also take issue with some of the implied messages in the presentation of their story. For example…
Elva’s rapist, Tom Stranger, has never been prosecuted for his crime, yet he is being provided a public platform that literally and figuratively elevates him, and appears to glorify rape.  
Elva and Stranger speak of meeting in South Africa to discuss the rape referencing the inspiration received from Truth and Reconciliation, the restorative justice that followed the abolition of apartheid, as one reason for this being an appropriate meeting place. We find this entirely inappropriate given that what we see today are the lingering and oppressive political and economic legacies of apartheid continuing to haunt South Africa.  
Elva speaks of a "normal" person who is raped "drinking a bottle of vodka and going to therapy". This is concerning on several levels. What constitutes "normal"? Isn’t the implication that the alternative is to be "abnormal"? The suggestion that all women drink alcohol ignores millions of women who for many and varied reasons (including personal, religious and/or cultural reasons) do not drink alcohol. It also disregards women who are displaced, living in poverty, or deprivation, who have no access to healthcare or therapy, women who because of stigma, shame or fear cannot or will not be in a position to tell anyone that they were raped, women who may be raped at knife point during conflict and war.
Jude Kelly has said that we need to change the focus of the discourse on rape from the victims to the perpetrators, but there will always need to be a focus on women who are victims of rape, because they are the ones impacted.
Whilst discourse on men as perpetrators needs to take place, we feel the decision made by the organisers of the WOW Festival to host a man who has never been prosecuted or sentenced for his crime, who has a book deal and tours the world promoting the book like a celebrity, is misguided.
We were pleased to learn that Jude Kelly had listened, not just to our voices, but to the voices of countless other women raising concerns about the presentation, and was removing the session from the Festival. However, we are concerned that the statement issued by WOW refers not to the importance of the women who raised concerns, many of whom are survivors and members of support groups, but rather to the importance of the event.
The fact that it will still take place at the same venue a couple of days later is deeply disappointing. The event has now been opened to the public and it has also been confirmed that WOW ticket holders will be invited to the talk at no additional cost. In this way, as stated by Jude Kelly, it will "enable as many people as possible to contribute outside a festival context". It is still, therefore, a WOW event. It is broadening the potential audience and further elevating the talk and disregarding or marginalising the voices of those who raised concerns. The statement reads as if the conversations she had, including with the two of us, were calling for the talk to have more prominence rather than what we were actually doing, calling for it to be removed from the Women of the World, an event designed to celebrate and honour women.
Sarah Reed was the victim of sexual violence whilst in hospital. When she defended herself, it was Sarah not the perpetrator who was arrested. Despite suffering a diagnosed mental health condition, she was imprisoned in Holloway, denied her medication and died in her cell under suspicious circumstances. An inquest into her death commences in April. Why is a rapist's voice elevated above Sarah's and the voices of other women like her?
We work in the trade union movement and communities to campaign for equality and justice. We see no equality or justice in providing a platform to a rapist who has never been punished on which to promote himself.
We have been invited to a "replacement" session on Saturday but feel unable in all good conscience to participate. We also do not feel it appropriate to participate in the sessions for which we were originally scheduled. Additionally, will we not be participating in the talk rescheduled to take place next week at Southbank. We have withdrawn from participating in this year’s WOW Festival for all the reasons stated above.
We will continue to support and work with WOW. However, in this instance, it is vital that we hold our allies to account and challenge their oppressive and inappropriate practices however difficult it may be.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Letter to EHRC from Race Equality Orgs : sacking of black staff


David Isaacs CBE
Equality and Human Rights Commission
Fleetbank House
2-6 Salisbury Square
London EC4Y 8JX 3 March 2017

Dear David Isaac,

It is with sincere regret that we feel obliged to write to you about the decline in the number of BAME staff at the Commission.

It has come to our attention that the number of BAME staff - especially visible minorities - has been declining for several years without any serious attempt to halt or reverse it.

We understand that twelve members of staff were selected for compulsory redundancy. Only two of the twelve staff are White British. Eight are from a BAME background, four are Muslim, six are disabled.  Apparently, seven of the twelve members of staff were unceremoniously ‘sacked’ by email on 9 February and told their last day would be 10 February.

We further understand there are no visible minorities amongst the senior management team. The only one Black director, who was on the team, was among the twelve workers who were made redundant.  We also understand that all but two of your remaining BAME workers are in the lowest three grades.

We consider this a matter of grave concern.

The legacy commission, the Commission for Racial Equality, possessed a unique racial justice acumen shaped by its diverse workforce at every level and in all departments. We believe if the Commission is not similarly diverse, it will lose credibility, authority and legitimacy with the public.

In our opinion, it is not satisfactory or acceptable simply to say the percentage of BAME workers reflects the percentage in the national population and especially not with main offices in London and Manchester. But this is not just about numbers: the personal experiences and viewpoints, which a diverse workforce brings, are essential if the Commission is to challenge the majority or mainstream beliefs. In a climate of rising levels of racist and Islamophobic attacks and where the majority opinion in GB seems to be anti-immigrant, anti-Black and anti-Muslim, then it is even more important that the Commission’s staff can stand firm against prevailing views. We believe this means recruiting a larger percentage than that in the national population - or even the local population where that is higher than the national figure.

Also worrying is the assessment of these workers as having no skills. Some of them were at the forefront of maintaining good relations in times of heightened racial tensions during periods of riots, the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, and the 7/7 terror attacks. Such an assessment disregards the value of this work and their commitment to the protection and promotion of equality and human rights. (Presumably, it is a specification for working at the Commission that employees have a demonstrable understanding of discrimination and good relations?).

On a personal front, BAME workers are only too painfully aware of discrimination, racism and social injustice. You are unlikely to know the individuals, but each one will have a personal history of struggle, obstacles and racism. Yet, the Commission has effectively told them they have no skills to hold a job with it and their experiences have been dismissed with the cold despatch of an email.

We realise the Commission’s website says it plans to address any under-representation with positive action measures. This has been the Commission’s answer to the decline in the number of BAME staff since 2011/12 when the numbers started to fall dramatically. Yet, as far as we are aware, the Commission has never used positive action measures, despite its assurances to do so.

But, more importantly, we do not consider that BAME staff or job applicants lack the skills for a position at the Commission or that positive action is necessary to equip them with the necessary skills. Given the nature of the work, we think it is, quite frankly, an insult to suggest that they lack the skills. The Commission had BAME senior professionals, lawyers and directors but almost all have gone. And we believe it will be difficult to recruit BAME staff with this poor history as it doesn’t inspire confidence or respect.

Whilst we’ve welcomed your recent statements on race hate crime, we do not believe you can or should speak for our communities. And whilst you might consult us as stakeholders, we also want to see our communities represented amongst your workforce - and not just in lower grades. Until we see progress in this area, you risk losing our trust and confidence.

We take this opportunity to remind you that the Paris Principles on the status and functions of national human rights bodies require such bodies to be ‘established in accordance with a procedure which affords all necessary guarantees to ensure the pluralist representation of the social forces (of civilian society) involved in the protection and promotion of human rights.’ The Principles also require them to work with others ‘to combat racism, to protect particularly vulnerable groups (especially children, migrant workers, refugees, physically and mentally disabled persons)...’

Unfortunately, we doubt whether the Commission can meet these obligations.

We were also appalled by the brutal manner by which the Commission terminated the contracts of those made redundant on 9 February. We understand they were served with redundancy notices by email while they were on strike - a strike called by the trades unions - and told the next day would be their last day. Trade union rights are protected human rights. And the requirement for ‘pluralist representation’ includes trades union representation.

This behaviour must be unprecedented for any employer. But, we rightly expect more from the Commission than other employer. But, even if the Commission followed a lawful process, we still expect a fair and compassionate process - to do what’s morally right, not just what is lawful.

We would like to conclude by affirming our support for a strong and effective national equality and human rights body which is diverse at all levels - and not just in terms of race but other characteristics. (We are also worried by a similar decline in the number of disabled and older staff).

Sadly, we now have serious doubts about the Commission’s credibility, authority and legitimacy with our communities.

We would welcome an opportunity to discuss our concerns with you in a meeting.

Finally, please kindly note other organisations share our concerns but they were unable to sign at this time.

Yours sincerely,

Lord Herman Ouseley
Hanef Bhamjee, OBE, Secretary, Action for Southern Africa –Wales
Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya, University of East London, UCU Black Members' Standing Committee
Peter Herbert, Society of Black Lawyers
Michael McEachrane, PhD, co-founder of IDPAD Coalition UK
GMB Regional Equality Forum
Momentum Black Caucus
Northamptonshire Rights and Equality Council
Operation Black Vote
Race Equality Matters (REM)
Wellingborough Black Consortium

Please reply to:
c/o Coral Rose
8-9 Frith St
London W1D 3JB

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Brixton Moves Against Trump - community feeder march to the Lobby of Parliament - 20th February 4.30pm

Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK has organised a feeder march from Kennington Park to Parliament  on 20th February, where we will join the main lobby of Parliament to demonstrate our complete opposition to Trump being granted a State visit to the UK. 

We will be assembling in Kennington Park at 4.30pm with speeches from grassroots community campaigns, departing at 5.30pm and marching to Parliament.
We have called this march to bring together Black (BME) and migrant communities and grassroots orgs campaigning against racism and xenophobia, to oppose Trump and to mark an One Day Without Us. 

1 Day Without Us is a National Day of Action on 20th Feb 2017 to celebrate the contribution of migrants to the UK, to coincide with UN World Day of Social Justice.For 24 hours, we are inviting migrants from inside and outside the European Union, and everyone who supports them, to celebrate the contribution that migrants make.

We will have a sound system leading the march and we are grateful to Lush for sponsoring this.

We invite you to join us. Please bring your home made placards, vuvuzelas and whistles to make some noise.


Friday, 10 February 2017

A public statement in defence of Labour Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott MP.

Defend Black Women

 We write in defence of Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott MP in the light of recent sustained attacks by sections of the media and politicians on the first and longest serving black woman MP in British politics.

We note the misogyny and racism of some of her critics and state for the record that Diane Abbott MP remains one of the most popular politicians within black and ethnic minority communities and her own constituency residents of Hackney North & Stoke Newington. It should be noted that since her groundbreaking election in 1987, her constituents representing one of the most diverse areas of the country have gone on to re-elect Diane with ever increasing electoral majorities.

Our general impression is that there has been heavy reporting on trivial issues with regards to Diane Abbott MP to create a moral panic about her leading position in government, supported by some sections of the media and some right wing politicians, who seem intent on unfairly denigrating one of Britain's most high-profile black women politicians.

Media comments on her recent illness, the attempt by David Davies MP to sexually assault Diane in Parliament and the deluge of online denigration and racist abuse Diane has suffered are unprecedented in  their offensiveness, scale and depth.

We welcome the suspension of Conservative Councillor Alan Permain, the deputy chairman of the South Ribble Conservative Association by the Conservative Party after he retweeted an utterly despicable image portraying Diane Abbott MP as an ape wearing lipstick.

We believe the Prime Minister Theresa May, needs to go further and offer a public apology to Ms Abbott for the racist abuse she suffered from an elected member of the Conservative Party and to permanently exclude Mr Permain from the Conservative Party.

We are deeply concerned, that despite reporting serious threats of violence and being subjected to extreme racist intimidation, the Metropolitan Police Services appears to have learned no lessons from the tragic murder of Jo Cox MP.  We call upon the London Mayor Sadiq Khan to launch an investigation into the apparent failure of the police to investigate these reported incidents. We are deeply concerned for the safety of Ms Abbott and that of her staff.

These facts taken together with the wider contexts of rising levels of racist and religious attacks in post Brexit Britain should constitute an anathema to all those in support of democracy and human rights.

We stand with Diane Abbott MP and call upon all those who oppose racism and sexism in public life to join with us.


Co Chairs Zita Holbourne and Lee Jasper

Chair of Society of Black Lawyers  
Dr Peter Herbert OBE

Operation Black Vote 
David Weaver

Mr Viv Ahmun and Ms Pat Lamour

Momentum Black Caucus
Prof Cecile Wright Chair of and Mr Kingsley Abrahams General Secretary 

Councilor Ms Claudia Webbe - Islington Council. And Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport member of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party

Co Chairs Zita Holbourne and Lee Jasper

Chair of Society of Black Lawyers 
Dr Peter Herbert OBE

Mr Viv Ahmun and Ms Pat Lamour

Momentum Black Caucus
Prof Cecile Wright Chair of and Mr Kingsley Abrams General Secretary 

Councilor Ms Claudia Webbe - Islington Council. And Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport member of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party

Black Social Work Network
Chair Alexander Macrae

Anthony Robinson
Human Rights & Equality Consultancy

Thursday, 12 January 2017

2025 Vision for Race Equality; A BARAC UK Strategy Paper



2025: A Vision for Race Equality in Britain

Authors: Mr., Lee Jasper and Ms. Zita Holbourne
National Co-Chairs Black Activists Rising Against Cuts UK (BARAC UK)
A strategy paper, setting out a strategic framework focused on the goal of achieving substantive reductions in racial disproportionality and inequality in the United Kingdom.


BARAC UK was established as a social movement and a campaigning organisation, following the 2010 General Election, in direct response to the anticipated politics of austerity and the likely disproportionate impact of cuts on black workers, service users, and deprived communities. We believed, at that time, that the planned austerity cuts announced by Tory Chancellor George Osborne would inflame and exacerbate racism, poverty and social-economic injustice faced by black and migrant communities. In addition the growing rise in Islamophobic sentiment and religious hate attacks also prompted the creation of BARAC UK.
J:\BARAC\Document Pics\IMG-20170104-WA0017.jpg
Blue Plaque Unveiling for the late Bernie Grant MP

Definition of “Black”

We use the term black in its inclusive and widest political sense, including all non-white ethnic minority communities living in the United Kingdom.

Core Belief

As recent research has now shown racial disparities on socio-economic indices expand dramatically during economic recession
Stock Photo 1

Socio-Economic & Political Context

We believe that the combination of the 2008 global economic crisis, the pursuit by the Coalition Government, led by the Tories to fundamentally restructure the British labour market under the guise of austerity led economic policy, overshadowed of late, by the decision to leave the European Union, have all combined into a perfect storm hugely amplifying and aggravating racism and inequality in Britain.

We believe that all these factors combined have made the vision of a fair and just Britain, a modern society where all its citizens are equal in the eyes of the law and the state, increasingly remote. Consequently, rates of discrimination, racial socio-economic inequality, religious and racist attacks, alongside xenophobic hate crimes, continue to rise as a result.

We note with both alarm and extreme concern the publication of the Equality and Human Right Commission’s (EHRC) recent tri-annual report “Healing a divided Britain: the need for a comprehensive race equality strategy’. The report called for the introduction by Government of an urgent and comprehensive Race Equality Strategy in response.

The Chair of the EHRC, Mr David Isaacs warned in his foreword to the report that, “widespread racial inequality risks further increasing racial tensions". We agree and support the EHRC’s call for Government to adopt a "comprehensive race equality strategy" (RES).

Further we believe, as stated, in the recent United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racism (CERD) report  assessing the state of racism in the UK, that protracted economic decline in Britain has led to the targeting of popular scapegoats, ramping up of racism for short-term political gain, led by sections of the UK’s right-wing media alongside some irresponsible British politicians.

J:\BARAC\Document Pics\IMG-20170104-WA0009.jpg
BARAC at the Annual Reparations March, Windrush Square

We believe that this represents traditional political scapegoating that is being used as a means of popular distraction; diverting attention from the real authors, and those primarily responsible for our current economic decline; the banks, the financial service sector and institutions including Parliament itself.
We believe that in the current Brexit economic and political context, we will continue to see the growth of racism and religious hatred in many towns and cities across the UK.

Britain’s ethnic communities continue to grow in size and that the palpable and continued failure of successive Governments to tackle racism and religious hatred, plus the propensity to scapegoat black communities invites the development of European style democratically elected fascism. In an increasingly racially hostile post - Brexit Britain, racism is on the rise. This we believe is best exemplified by the success of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) in pandering to racist sentiment and the growing numbers of a range of extreme right-wing parties right across the European Union.

Things Are Getting Worse

A report “A Portrait of Modern Britain” released by the UK think tank, Policy Exchange, a centre-right research institute based in London, identified significant population growth of some ethnic communities. The authors of the study looked at the UK’s five largest distinct ethnic groups including Pakistani, Black African, Black Caribbean, Bangladeshi and Indian, their findings found that some of these groups accounted for as much as 80 percent of the UK’s population growth with Black Africans being the fastest growing group and White and Black Caribbean groups the slowest.

Black communities are growing fast and we believe that we must urgently address the growth of systemic racism, race and religious hatred and inequality, if we are to avoid an American future, with major cities in the United Kingdom, following the trajectory of the many deeply troubled, major US cities and neighbourhoods such as Watts, Chicago and New York. Racism left to fester will result in huge racial tensions, endemic poverty, increased crime rates, civil uprisings, damage to property and potentially loss of life.
Stock Photo 2

This strategy paper seeks to focus political discussions within all mainstream political parties, trade unions, civil society, faith based organisations and non-governmental organisations, on the goal of achieving substantive reductions in race inequalities and social injustice faced by black and minority ethnic communities in the United Kingdom in the next decade.

We believe the Government’s RES approach should be bespoke, and include the targeting of regional areas, in particular sectors such as employment, with industry specific job  recruitment, promotion and retention targets designed to tackle the problem where it is greatest.

Across Britain and its many and growing multicultural cities, there are huge regional, ethnic variations in the particular ethnic experience of discrimination. The extent of racial equality experienced by and between ethnic groups themselves varies in different regions, towns and cities across the country.  The extent of racial inequalities experienced by individual ethnic communities, varies for each individual ethnic group and with strong regional variations, any effective RES strategy will require local targets and differing regional approaches.
Stock Photo 3

Any attempt to seriously reduce substantive racial inequality across the UK will need to target discrimination amongst Britain's largest employers. In order to set the tone for creating the kind of society that can be a beacon for multi-racial nations around the world. The priority must be to first tackle job discrimination in the UK labour market and that means specifically targeted employment legislation capable of achieving a representative workforce.

It is also important that the demand for meaningful race equality by 2025 should be adopted by civil society organisations in which individual institutions and organisations not only sign up in general support, but also adopt their own race equality strategies in line with the demands on government. It is extremely important that organisations, institutions, our businesses and faith groups all lead the demand for greater effectiveness from government in tackling race equality by way of example. To achieve this ambitious goal we need civil society organisations to support this drive to end substantive race discrimination in the UK in a decade.

This is an extraordinary important aspect of this campaign.

Prolonged and sustained racial inequalities are symptoms of profound economic and social exclusion. Racism, discrimination, prejudice and bigotry all deny our human potential and negatively affect the lives of millions of Black, Asian and other non-white communities living in the UK.  

The Strategy

The achievement of this important strategy relies on the success of two important objectives;

The need to secure broad support and adoption of this 2025 strategy, across large sections of British society, including mainstream political parties, trade unions, faith communities, business and civil society groups and all anti-racist campaigning organisations.
The agreement of Government itself on the development of a realistic RES and broad policy framework developed in consultation with black and ethnic minority communities and designed to help Britain secure the achievement of genuine racial equality and improved social justice within a decade.

We are calling for a radical plan that sets out bespoke race equality targets within various sectors of British society focusing on the planned reduction of all major areas of substantive racial inequality and disproportionality by 2025.

We hope that you are convinced of the urgent need to develop a broad policy consensus and agreement across British civil society and Government around the goal of substantively reducing racial equality in Britain by 2025.

If so we need your help and support in advocating that such an approach can deliver significant progress in tackling racism. Unity of purpose around a clear set of detailed campaign objectives increases our chances of convincing Government to engage in real consultation, development and ultimately agreement of this important strategy.

What We Call For

We believe, it is now absolutely critical for the future economic, cultural and political stability and success of post Brexit Britain, that where racial and religious hatred and the wholly negative effects of institutionalised racism, continue to blight the lives of many British black and ethnic minority citizens, that such racism is both identified and tackled head on.

What is now required is a profound paradigm shift in policy aspiration and thinking. We need a much more focused, determined policy approach in achieving a fair, just and equal society. It is absolutely beyond doubt that the goal of achieving such a society is receding into the distance, becoming a distant and increasingly unachievable objective
Stock Photo 4

In this post - Brexit Britain context, tackling racism becomes a matter of national interest. It is now vital that structural racism and disproportionality, demonstrated and evidenced by a plethora of in-depth academic research, illuminating profound social economic race and ethnic inequality, is substantively reduced over the next decade.
Failure to do so will, we believe, lead to growing and increased ethnic, religious and racial tensions in multi-racial Britain, where continued acute economic disadvantage and discrimination will lead to deep social unrest, and increased tensions among Britain's ethnic communities and ultimately civil disorder.

Young educated black, Muslim and minority ethnic people are becoming, quite rightly, increasingly impatient for access to social mobility and career development opportunities.  Black and particularly Muslim, young people having now achieved improved levels of educational success, will simply not tolerate being excluded because of their religion, gender or race.

We believe that a decade-long plan provides a realistic framework and timescale for real and sustainable progress to be made.
Stock Photo 5

We believe that this requires the adoption of a clear and comprehensive, ten-year Race Equality Strategy, that outlines a series of proposals, targets and milestones, designed to achieve substantive race equality within a finite period. Black British and minority ethnic citizens must secure substantive commitments to race equality in their lifetimes.

The consequences of not doing so will condemn future generations of black and minority ethnic citizens and the UK as a whole, to a grim, angry and uncertain future where racism, racial and religious tensions, social discord and social unrest all continue to rise.

This strategy paper, presents a brief political and academic analysis of where we are today, in terms of racial and ethnic discrimination and inequality. The paper outlines some of the key findings of academic, statutory or community based research, and recommends the development of a coherent and radical policy approach to making a once in a generation, determined attempt to substantially reduce and /or eliminate racial inequality in the UK.

What the Research Tells Us

J:\BARAC\Document Pics\IMG-20170104-WA0025.jpg
Solidarity Vigil outside the USA Embassy

Racism in 2016 was significantly worse in economic terms, than the crude racism faced by migrant communities in the UK in the 1950/60s. Whilst this generation ended the horror of extreme racial violence and colour bar racism, the sad fact is, that their grandchildren today suffer lower levels of social mobility than their parents, higher levels of unemployment and homelessness, and yet are more educationally qualified than their grandparents.

These facts are confirmed in the important and significant report published in August 2016 by the Equality and Human Rights Commission in August 2016. The Commission analysed the state of race discrimination, inequality and disadvantage in the UK.

Their report cites the huge rise in hate crimes, racist abuse and violent attacks against migrants, Muslims and black people in the aftermath of the EU referendum. The report found significant growth in their rates of racial inequality and a widening of the life chances differentials between white, black and ethnic minority citizens.

These results are very worrying and fundamentally threaten Britain's social cohesion, economic prosperity and social solidarity in many multicultural cities and towns across the country.

This latest report follows a similar report published by the EHRC in 2010 entitled How Fair is Britain.  This report also came to similarly worrying conclusions. We have seen no effective policy or campaigning responses to either of these reports, from Government, trade unions, and campaigning groups or indeed from wider civil society.

The general impression among black and Muslim communities is that whilst racism remains a tokenistic "concern", it does not constitute a real political priority for politicians, business, trade unions or civil society organisations.

There is simply not enough grass roots pressure coming up from below to ensure race remains a political priority,

Since the publication of the EHRC’s earlier report in 2010, yet another black generation has grown up under the cloud of continued racial and ethnic disadvantage.

The findings of both these important reports, covering a six-year period, are an indictment of the grand political failure of successive governments of all parties, civil service administrations and wider civil society, in making real progress in ensuring that the dream of the UK being a place that affords equality to all its citizens and becomes a reality within the lifetime of the this current generation.

Today Britain is commonly described as a meritocracy, however we will argue that is no longer true, and that Britain offers it’s growing black and minority ethnic communities, third class citizenship in what is regarded by many as a modern first-class democracy.

Britain is an increasingly racial and religious discriminatory society where the current generation of black and minority ethnic citizens face more socio-economic exclusion and lack of social mobility than that faced by their parents, a most damning indictment for any society.       
Britain is not moving towards the goal of full race equality. That goal is moving away from us, condemning millions of black and ethnic minority citizens to continue to live under the long shadow of racism. The EHRC reports are not alone in identifying such gross and growing racial inequality.

The Runnymede Trust and independent race equality think tank published its second annual report entitled "Ethnic Inequalities In London: A Capital For All and captured the growth racial inequality right across the capital.

J:\BARAC\Document Pics\IMG-20170104-WA0010.jpg
Rudolph Walker, Actor & Baroness Howells at Bernie Grant Blue Plaque unveiling

It’s findings were equally conclusive that "ethnic inequalities are persistent and widespread, particularly in employment and housing and identified the south London borough of Lambeth, as the most racially unequal and divided borough in London. This annual snapshot of London inequality also confirms that the gap between black and white Londoners in terms of life chances, quality of life, and access to opportunity is widening.

Runnymede’s report also found, as did the EHRC’s review as reported above, that black and ethnic minority pupils were out performing their white counterparts, and yet suffered huge discrimination within the British labour market. This successful trend within black and ethnic communities of a growing and confident, educated young black aspiring workforce, faced with systemic racism within the  labour market recruitment and the routine denial of opportunity, presents both a unique opportunity and a real and present threat.

Black and minority ethnic young people, qualified, ambitious and ready to work are finding themselves unemployed, on the streets unable to get a decent home to live in, unable to get a job commensurate with their skills and education, and living in a society where they will find themselves repeatedly racially profiled and harassed through the discriminatory application of police Stop and Search powers.

The combination of widespread racial inequality, racism and discrimination means our communities are both contained and under pressure, with no obvious social mobility routes out of this incredibly hostile environment and no real access to secure race equality and justice.

Where Do We Go From Here?

This paper set out BARAC’s key concerns and seeks to build public debate and political consensus on the urgent need for the development and adoption of a comprehensive Government and civil society RES action plan that identifies the goal of substantially reducing all areas of racial inequality and disproportionality by the year 2025.

A plan that should be developed through, timely and ethical consultations with black and minority ethnic communities, with a goal of developing a 10-year RES with annual targets and public reporting mechanisms.

We hope that the recommendations in this paper will be considered by all political parties, civil society organisations and community groups with a view to formally supporting this important initiative and sign up to a statement of intent and commitment, such as the draft that follows, by way of example;

We wish to live in a United Kingdom that provides equality of opportunity and freedom from race, religious and ethnic discrimination. Our ambition is for Britain to become a modern multicultural democracy, where all our citizens can live, thrive and prosper, without the fear of racial or religious discrimination and bigotry.

We call upon the UK Governments to ensure ethical, formal consultation and partnership with black and minority ethnic communities, organisations, faith groups and wider civil society, in the development of a radical and fully comprehensive Race Equality Strategy (RES) focused on the reduction and where possible, elimination of all substantive areas of racial inequality and discrimination in the United Kingdom by the year 2025.

We ….. commit to leading by example by initiating the development of our own public national 10-year Race Equality Strategy (RES) developed in partnership with black and minority communities. This will include targets in employment and service delivery that work towards reducing current levels of racial and ethnic under-representation and inequality.

In order to achieve this, we …. Commit to publishing a Race Equality 2025 annual report, outlining our progress each year until the target date.

BARAC demo against mass deportations #Jamaica50, Home Office, London

This BARAC UK Strategy Paper sets out some of the key statistics demonstrating racial disadvantage, disparity and disproportionality that affect black and minority ethnic communities within the UK. The effects of racism are nuanced and not all communities experience the same effects in terms of racism and racial inequality. Each distinct black and ethnic minority community is defined by its particular historical, political and cultural experience that result in a range of differential outcomes for many distinct British ethnic communities.

Notwithstanding this important distinction, it is nevertheless true to say that the major negative effects of a growing race and ethnic inequality and its negative impacts, have the greatest effects upon members of Britain's African, Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi communities, and of late we have seen the terrible xenophobia directed towards Eastern European and in particular Polish communities.

Any race equality strategy would need to take account of these real differentials in the lived experience of distinct ethnic communities. That requires very specific targeting of individual groups that suffer the greatest disadvantage.

This approach recognizes the reality of racial disadvantage as it impacts upon distinct ethnic groups, and provides a credible and coherent response to those in the greatest need. This moves away from a broad "black and minority ethnic" categorisation, one size fits all approach and adopts a unique range of nuanced and entirely specific ethnic targets, focusing on specific ethnic disadvantage and disproportionality.

Current Initiatives

The Prime Minister recently announced her intention to conduct a Race Equality Audit across all Government Departments and public services in an effort to reveal "difficult truths" about the extent of racism across and within the public sector in service delivery. This audit will highlight differences in outcomes for people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds in areas of health, education, childcare, welfare, employment, skills and criminal justice.

Whilst this is to be welcomed, it is vitally important that the detailed remit of such an audit, the assessment of the resources required and the timescale for its delivery and completion, are all agreed in partnership with a broad range of black and minority ethnic organisations and communities.

A simple 1980s style, race equality snapshot across government and society cannot be viewed as real and substantial progress. This has to be much more than just a bean counting exercise.

In addition the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn has announced a review of Labour Party policy on race equality and how to expand its recruitment of black people within the Labour Party, They have invited input from black communities and BARAC UK has already submitted this proposal for consideration. We look forward to hearing from the Labour Party on its conclusions later in 2017.
BARAC UK solidarity & aid missions to refugee camps in  France, 2016
The real test for Government will be the extent of proper public consultation and engagement with black and minority communities.

Any Government audit must enjoy the confidence of our communities and that will require genuine Government and civil society partnership in the development of the specific terms of reference that will inform the work of the audit.

However, there remains a fundamental weakness in what is currently being proposed by Government. The reality is that discrimination in wider society goes well beyond the realm of public services. If the UK private sector is to be excluded, then one of the most critical and important areas, of discrimination in the British labour market; i.e. recruitment and employment will be ignored.

Failure to include discrimination in relation to goods and services as well, will result in a keyhole examination of racism in Britain rather than a comprehensive full-scale inquiry.

We must work together to make sure that the remit for any planned audits are substantive and capable of tackling these issues in a sustainable and effective way. We must ensure that those who the Government chooses to consult are made fully accountable to Britain’s black, ethnic and migrant communities.

The ‘Fire Next Time’ Conclusion

What we believe is ultimately required, is a Judge led public inquiry on a similar  scale of the1967 United States’ National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders also known is the Kerner Commission, established to investigate the causes of civil disorder that took place in the aftermath of the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King.

We believe that as a consequence of austerity, heightened levels of race and ethnic discrimination, disadvantage and inequality, civil disorder is not only likely, but inevitable. We believe that there is a failure by Government to recognise the driving factors that led up to the civil disturbances of 2011 and that many of the issues that gave rise to that explosion of anger and violence remain unaddressed. These issues have become substantially aggravated over the last five years.

By establishing a much broader inquiry now, the country can save itself millions of pounds in avoiding the huge costs that would be associated with yet another outbreak of national civil disorder and riot damage. We believe that for all UK citizens to flourish and for our economy to prosper we must be better able to compete in an increasingly globalised world.

J:\BARAC\Document Pics\IMG-20170104-WA0023.jpg
Roots Culture Identity Exhibition artists, TUC HQ, Congress House
Britain, as a modern multicultural democracy, must utilise all the talents available to the nation, in an effort to enhance long term social cohesion and promote economic prosperity.   

There is simply no need to wait for the ‘fire next time’,  politicians, trade unions, civil society groups and campaigning organisations need to all coalesce around  the demand for the establishment of a judge led public inquiry into racism in the UK and the production of a Government comprehensive race equality strategy.

2025 Racial Equality Campaign

BARAC UK 2025 Race Equality Campaign Draft Objectives

BARAC will work with others to develop a project/campaign framework that has the potential of attracting wide spread support whilst applying the necessary public pressure needed, to reverse the current trend of widening inequality and race discrimination.

Power concedes nothing without demand.  The importance of establishing the issue of race as a political and policy priority within both central and local Government and wider civil society requires a mass movement and a broad based campaign, capable of keeping the issue high on the media and political agendas.

Key to achieving this important objective is creating the broadest possible alliance of black and minority ethnic organisations, trade unions, community and civil society groups and faith communities.

Campaign Aims

The key aim of the campaign is to;
Challenge Government, business and wider civil society to substantially reduce persistent racial inequality and disproportionality in both employment and service delivery in addition to improving levels of ethnic representation in public life by 2025.

The 2025 Race Equality Campaign will seek to encourage UK society to adopt the objective and goal of ending significant racial inequalities within 10 years.

This will involve, clearly identifying current rates of race inequality, disproportionality and ethnic under representation through a base line Race Equality Audit (2017) and setting challenging annual public targets for substantial reductions to be achieved by 2025.  

The Campaign is designed to encourage a broad range of institutions, businesses and organisations to support the statement and sign up for the 2025 Race Equality Challenge, committing to working, within their specialist sectors, toward the elimination of and / or reduction of major areas of racial inequality, disproportionality and ethnic under-representation by 2025.

Developmental Objectives

We have five initial developmental objectives for further discussion;

  1. To publicly campaign for Government, businesses, institutions, civil society organisations, faith groups and individuals to accept and sign up to the 2025 Race Equality Campaign.

  1. To work with others in seeking to significantly challenge, reduce and where possible eradicate all major areas of racial inequality, disproportionality and ethnic under-representation in the UK by 2025.

  1. To promote, campaign and advocate for better public understanding of the reality and scale of racial inequalities, disproportionate treatment and ethnic under-representation and its effects on UK society and economy.

  1. To highlight the financial cost to the UK’s economy and prosperity of continued racial discrimination and economic exclusion and injustice.

  1. To bring public pressure to bear on governments, businesses and institutions to sign up to the campaign, reserving the right to initiate social action where there is resistance to race equality.

Signing Up to the Campaign

Political parties, businesses and civil society organisations from all sections of society, who agree with our stated aims and objectives to join with us in helping the UK to become a vibrant, multi-racial democracy by 2025, are invited to sign up.  

Sign up to 2025 Race Equality Challenge and commit to publishing  two five-year Race Equality Strategies that sets out yearly targets for the reduction or elimination of all areas of racial inequality, disproportionality in employment and service delivery and targeted improvement of ethnic representation.  

Commitment to the publication of annual Race Equality Audit progress reports identifying progress against annually agreed targets aimed at reducing rates of race inequality, disproportionality and ethnic under representation.

Help promote the campaign nationwide

Support the public launch of the campaign group that will take place on Saturday 17th of January 2017, Martin Luther King Day.

Campaign Structure

The 2025 Race Equality Campaign Group will be the national coordinating group providing input and guidance to the campaign.  We expect this group to meet no more than 4 times a year.  

This group will be made up of specialist organisations committed to tackling race equality that will then be utilised for their sector specific expertise.

BARAC UK will convene a national campaign-planning group that will help focus early negotiations with government about the remit and resources needed to undertake a comprehensive race equality audit across the UK.

If you are interested in becoming one of the initial, founding signatories’ supporters of this important campaign, contact


To contact us

Twitter: @baracuk