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summer 2010 / issue 362
ipAtion pArtic And n entAtio repres
q&A: nick lowles of hope not hAte Achieving diversity in the mediA rAce equAlity And the election
Intelligence for a multi-ethnic Britain
dr rob Berkeley Director sarah isal Deputy Director dr debbie weekesBernard Senior Research & Policy Analyst dr omar khan Senior Research & Policy Analyst Jessica mai sims Research & Policy Analyst kjartan páll sveinsson Research & Policy Analyst phil mawhinney Research & Policy Analyst vastiana Belfon Real Histories Directory robin frampton Publications Editor nina kelly Editor, Runnymede Online colin kelly Business Development Manager vicki Butler Public Affairs Officer klara schmitz Project Assistant kam gill Project Assistant riffat Ahmed Art Project Manager rebecca waller Administrator
WELCOME to the Summer 2010 edition of the online Runnymede Bulletin. As our young coalition government finds its feet, this quarter’s magazine takes the timely theme of participation and representation. Our main interview (from page 28) is, fittingly, with Nick Lowles - head of the Hope not Hate campaign, which we all have to thank for keeping the British National Party out of London’s councils. Meanwhile, from page 6 our public affairs officer Vicki Butler condenses months of campaigning and complex policy ideas into a handy two-page guide on all things race equality related. Why do local politicians across the party lines think that greater black and minority ethnic representation matters? Find out on page 27. Away from politics, turn to page 14 for a comment from the BBC’s head of diversity on how we might encourage more and better ethnic minority representation in broadcasting. And away from representation, on page 16 Rosalind Edwards and Chamion Caballero bring together some of the findings of a fascinating research report looking at single mums bringing up mixed-race children. Guardian readers among you may also have heard mention about an article on academy schools, exclusions and race equality. Read it in full from page 12. That is far from all, so I’ll leave you to leaf through in your own time and explore the rest. As ever, a massive thank you to all the fabulous people who lent us their thoughts, expertise, words and images to produce this very swiftly pulled together Summer edition. We know your time is precious, and we appreciate every second of it. If you have any feedback or suggestions for what you would like to see in forthcoming bulletins, please get in touch with me at the email address below.
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firstname.lastname@example.org The Runnymede Trust, July 2010. Open access, some rights reserved, subject to the terms of Creative Commons Licence Deed: AttributionNon-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales. You are free to copy, distribute, display and perform the work (including translation) without written permission; you must give the original author credit; you may not use this work for commercial purposes; you may not alter, transform, or build upon this work. For more information please go to www.creativecommons. org. For purposes other than those covered by this licence, please contact Runnymede.
nina kelly, Editor email@example.com
runnymede is the UK’s leading race equality thinktank. We are a research-led, non-party political charity working to end racism.
Front cover image by Georgie Gallop at the Million Women Rise March 2010
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on the cover
28 q&A Hope not Hate’s Nick Lowles on how the campaign is successfully tackling the threat of the BNP 06 rAce equAlity & the 2010 generAl election A look at the election campaigns and results from a race equality perspective 14 Achieving diversity in the mediA industry The BBC’s head of diversity on how more diverse faces behind the scenes could change output
08 finAnciAl inclusion policy & the coAlition How might our young coalition government affect race equality in financial inclusion? 10 comBAtting the Bnp Fresh tactics needed in campaign against far right 12 AcAdemies & exclusions As the debate about academy schools rages, we take a look at their worrying exclusion rates 16 lone mothers of miixed rAciAl And ethnic children Read about the experiences and racisms faced by lone mums with mixed-race children 18 migrAtion And risk The need for a new discourse on risk analysis and migration policy 20 is proportionAl representAtion Better? A look at alternative voting systems and how, if at all, they could impact black and minority ethnic representation 23 rAcist violence Best practice in prevention and why it is so important 31 A reAder on rAce The new edition of one of the most widely read texts in the race academic sector outlined by one of its authors
04 news in Brief A round up of some of the most important race-related news 26 key fActs Ten facts you ought to know about race and representation 27 vox pop Local councillors on why representation of black and minority ethnic groups matters 32 reviews New books and films 35 director’s column Rob Berkeley on why we need to remember the longer term costs of spending cuts
A view from...
24 ...wAles How does ‘black Welsh’ fit in with ‘black British’? Or doesn’t it? 25 ...polAnd The Polish political climate has changed since the death of a retinue of its top politicians
21 A long wAy to go New Lib Dem councillor Lester Holloway on what’s holding black and minority ethnic representation in politics back
SUMMER 2010 / ISSUE 362 | runnymede Bulletin | 3
news in Brief
by Elisabeth Fischer
Information centre about asylum and refugees saved from closure
INDIVIDUAL SUPPORTERS AND funders have donated £25,000 over six weeks to save the Information Centre about Asylum and Refugees (ICAR) from definite closure. More than £3,000 came via cheques and online donations given by concerned members of the public and small organisations. ICAR, previously based at London City University, was to become a casualty of higher education sector cuts when the university announced its inability to house the centre in April 2010. Without this base, ICAR was certain to close by the end of June 2010. More than 85 students wrote in protest at the threatened closure. The centre, which provides an invaluable source of unbiased information about asylum and refugees, managed to find a new home at the eleventh hour courtesy of race equality thinktank the Runnymede Trust. However, once Runnymede had stepped forward in May 2010, the two organisations then had just six weeks to raise £25,000 to cover the costs of the move, without which ICAR would have had to close permanently. Thanks to the generosity of individuals who donated via a dedicated web page and contributions from ICAR’s existing funders, the centre will now be able to function as normal, based at the Runnymede offices in central London. Journalist Melanie McFadyean, who regularly writes for the Guardian, personally donated £100 to the campaign. She said: “We are ignorant about what is happening to asylum seekers in the UK and will be even more so if such an important outfit as ICAR were to be disbanded.” Dr Rayah Feldman of London South Bank University said: “ICAR is highly respected among academics and others concerned with obtaining accurate information about immigration in the UK. I know of no other resource in the UK that examines such a broad range of issues on asylum in such a trustworthy way.” Dr Nissa Finney of the University of Manchester said: “ICAR provides an invaluable source of impartial information. No other such organisation exists in Britain.” Runnymede director Rob Berkeley said: “It is a privilege for us to have a hand in saving such a well-informed resource. ICAR is the first port of call for many policymakers and voluntary service providers, as well as community organisations supporting some of the most vulnerable people in our society. “We are delighted that the public has recognised the importance of the centre and given it a lifeline.” ICAR director Neil Amas said: “This move has not only saved ICAR from closure, but also promises to be an exciting new partnership bringing together two complementary areas of work. “We believe that over the coming years asylum policy will remain in the spotlight and continue to impact on refugee, migrant and established UK populations. ICAR’s contribution to promoting well-informed debate in this crucial area will therefore be needed as much as ever. “We feel greatly indebted to the public, without whose generosity we would not be able to continue to do this vital work.” Under the new arrangement ICAR will continue to operate as an independent centre, while benefiting from and contributing to the running costs and management support of Runnymede. Please note: We are still fundraising to help keep ICAR going for as long as possible and cushion both our organisations against further cuts. If you are able to, please donate at online by visiting bit.ly/donateicar For further information, go to icar.org.uk or contact Jacob Lagnado on 020 7040 4596 or at jacob.@runnymedetrust.org
world cup quarter finalists unite against racism
THE EIGHT TEAMS IN THE QUARTER finals of the World Cup 2010 pledged to fight racism and discrimination in all forms. Before the start of the quarter final matches in July 2010 the captains of the competing teams read out a declaration rejecting any form of discrimination on and off the field. Teams and match officials posed alongside a banner, showing the words ‘Say no to racism.’ The matches were watched by millions of people from all corners of the globe. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)’s president, Joseph Blatter, pointed out that the players involved in the quarter finals - and indeed the world cup - are seen as role models across the world. He said in an official statement: “It is part of our social responsibility to use our competitions to raise awareness of the pressing social issues of the day.” Former South African president Nelson Mandela supported the message, saying: “Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair.” He added that hosting the World Cup 2010 had brought South Africans together. Racial prejudice, of course, has a particularly prominent place in the modern history of the host nation, which lived for decades under the racist Apartheid regime. FIFA signed a declaration against racism in 2001 in Buenos Aires. Since then, the organisation has arranged ‘Anti-Discrimination Days’ every year.
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Brazil race equality law not enough
Brazilian pressure groups are disappointed that affirmative action is missing from the country’s new equality law, which was approved by the Brazilian Congress in June 2010 after seven years of discussion. The Statute of Racial Equality aims to end the inequality suffered by black people in Brazil. Different black ethnic groups make up 48 per cent of today’s Brazilian population, according to the Minority Rights Group International. However, as the various news agencies have reported, black pressure groups are frustrated that the statute does not endorse any of the positive action policies that have been launched during the debate in parliament. Critics argue that moves to make it easier for Brazil’s black population to enter higher education, find jobs in both public and private sectors and enter politics are missing from the law. Coordinator of the National Council of Black Entities Gilberto Leal said: “The text falls short of our expectations. Concrete action is needed to combat the injustice our community suffers.” Some measures that were originally covered by the statute, and many black campaigners would have welcomed, were eliminated during the legislative process. This includes tax breaks for employers with a black workforce of more than 20 per cent and the introduction of a black quota system for political parties. The author of the original text of the statute is Brazil’s only black senator Paulo Paim. He said: “The statute is a real step forward and an effective weapon, even if it does not come up to our ideals.” Many black people in Brazil are descendents of Africans who arrived in the country during the 16th century, having been enslaved by white colonisers. Although they make up roughly half the population, 122 years after the abolition of slavery the economic participation of black people in Brazil is only 20 per cent of the county’s gross domestic product (GDP). Unemployment is 50 per cent higher among black Brazilians. Only 4 per cent of black Brazilians aged between 18 and 24 have attended a university, compared to 12 per cent among white people of the same age, according to the Minority Rights Group International.
Black and minority ethnic people are far more likely to be stopped and searched than white people
fears of greater inequality as stop and search form is to be scrapped
HOME SECRETARy THERESA MAy has vowed to scrap the forms used by the police while stop and search. Critics say this could result in racial discrimination. The newly appointed government minister used her maiden speech in May 2010 to announce that she would scrap the stop and search form to reduce bureaucracy, the burden of the procedure and to cut costs. However, critics suggest that this would make it difficult to monitor the disproportionate numbers of ethnic minority people being stopped. Black people are seven times more likely to be stopped and searched by the police than white people, according to Ministry of Justice figures, with Asian people are twice as likely to be stopped. In total the number of black and Asian people stopped and searched by the police has increased by more than 70 per cent over the past five years. The figures in the annual statistics on race and the criminal justice system show that more than 310,000 members of these ethnic minority groups were stopped and searched by the police on the streets between 2008 and 2009, compared with 178,000 between 2004 and 2005. The report also revealed that this overuse has created significant distrust among the affected communities. Police minister Nick Herbert has condemned these figures, and the targeting of individuals on the basis of race alone. He told the Guardian: “Stop and search is an important tool for the police, but it is essential powers are used fairly and with the support of the community to protect the public.” However, the numbers could rise even further without anyone knowing about it if the abolishment of stop and search forms goes ahead. Whereas, up to now, the police have to record of the ethnic background of a person they stop and search, they may not have to do this in the future. Runnymede’s Kjartan Sveinsson criticised the proposal in an article for the Guardian, arguing that accountability and transparency would not be possible without monitoring. He said: “Uncontrolled and unmonitored stop and search can lead to stereotyping and discrimination.”
SUMMER 2010 / ISSUE 362 | runnymede Bulletin | 5
Race equality and the 2010 general election
vicki Butler and farrah sheikh take a look back at the election and assess what the changes may mean, in terms of black and minority ethnic representation and for race equality more broadly
he last few months have seen a variety of changes within the UK political scene. We have had one of the most exciting election campaigns, resulting in the UK’s first hung parliament since the 1970s. In this article we examine the events of the last few months and their potential impact on race equality. after the election, Clegg was forced to retreat on his manifesto commitments on immigration. Instead he has supported the Conservative’s plans for a cap on non-EU migration. Though race equality was not given the same attention as immigration in the election campaign, a number of campaigning groups worked hard to keep it on the electoral agenda. Organisations including Operation Black Vote (OBV), Equanomics and the 1990 Trust were particularly active in the campaign. The groups collaborated to produce the Black Manifesto, a document designed to keep race equality issues high on the political agenda. OBV also hosted the popular Black Britain Decides rally which featured senior parliamentarians Harriet Harman, Vince Cable and George Osborne. Throughout the election campaign, OBV argued that the black vote could significantly impact the outcome of the general election, highlighting the fact that marginal seats could easily be swung by black and minority ethnic (BME) votes, in particular highlighting Finchley & Golders Green, Battersea, and Crawley. Party’s first Asian and Black female MPs respectively, as well as the UK’s first Kurdish politician Nadhim Zahawi. Labour newcomer Chuka Umunna took the seat of Streatham with a 3529 majority, while Rushanara Ali achieved one of Labour’s only gains in the election by winning the seat of Bethnal Green and Bow from Respect with an 11,574 majority. Other new BME MPs included Conservatives Rehman Chishti, Sam Gyimah, Sajid Javid, Kwasi Kwarteng, Alok Sharma and Paul Uppal. New BME Labour MPs included Shabana Mahmood, Lisa Nandy, Chi Onwurah, Yasmin Qureshi, Anas Sarwar and Valerie Vaz, Keith Vaz’s sister. Veteran BME MPs David Lammy, Diane Abbott and Adam Afriyie were also returned to Westminster with increased majorities. In one of the biggest surprises of the night, former transport minister and Labour MP Sadiq Khan successfully defended his Tooting seat from strong Tory opposition. However, the evening also saw a number of prominent BME parliamentarians lose their seats. In one of the tightest battles
the election campaign
The 2010 election campaign was a historic one for a number of reasons – not least because it saw the first televised prime ministerial debates in the UK. While in retrospect the debates appeared to have little impact on the final election result, one of the most striking aspects was that the public for the first time saw Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg placed head to head with Brown and Cameron – and, for a short while at least, they liked what they saw. While Clegg’s rise to prominence did not translate into votes on polling day, it did draw attention to the Liberal Democrat policies on immigration – which had been seen by many migration rights groups as being the most progressive of the three parties’ policies on the issue. The Lib Dem’s manifesto for example called for ‘a route to citizenship’ for nondocumented migrants who had proof of their residence in the UK for at least ten years. Meanwhile Labour argued in favour of their points based system, and the Conservatives argued for a cap on numbers of migrants. However, Clegg’s policies came under fire in the press as well as the leadership debates, with both Brown and Cameron labelling the Lib Dem’s policies as weak. Perhaps because of this criticism, if not because of the realities of coalition politics, when entering government
The final election result saw a historic number of ethnic minority MPs elected to parliament
The final election result saw a historic number of ethnic minority MPs elected to parliament, with the number rising from 14 to 27. Notable winners include Priti Patel and Helen Grant, the Conservative of the election, Labour’s Dawn Butler was defeated by Liberal Democrat Sarah Teather, who has since been appointed as an education minister. The pair were previously MPs in neighbouring seats, but boundary changes put the two head-
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unsuccessful conservative party candidate wilfred emmanuel-Jones
to-head in the new seat of Brent Central. Other unlucky former MPs included Labour’s Parmjit Dhanda and Shahid Malik who were defeated in Gloucester and Dewsbury respectively. Several high-profile BME parliamentary candidates were also unlucky on election night. The self-styled ’black farmer’ and Conservative candidate Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones unexpectedly failed to take the seat of Chippenham from the Liberal Democrats. Another shock result was the failure of Shaun Bailey to win the seat of Hammersmith for the Conservatives from the Labour Party. Bailey was one of the most well-known Conservative hopefuls, dubbed by some as being one of the ‘Tatler Tories’ after posing for the high-society magazine. The total number of BME Labour MPs is now 13, up ten from 2005. Most strikingly, the number of ethnic minority Conservative MPs has leapt from two to 11. However, the Liberal Democrats still have no ethnic minority MPs in Westminster, having had only one BME MP in their history.
make it to Westminster. The BNP were in fact unceremoniously ejected from Barking & Dagenham Council, as all 12 of their councillors lost their seats. The openly racist party’s campaign cannot have been helped by former party group leader, Bob Bailey, who was filmed fighting in the street in the run up to the election. Overall the BNP suffered catastrophic losses. Prominent BNP councillor, Chris Beverley lost his seat on Leeds City Council. The party also lost councillors in Stoke-on-Trent, an area once described by Griffin as the party’s ‘jewel in the crown’.
impact on equalities?
Despite the coalition partners appointing a cabinet of diverse political views, there is little diversity of ethnicity, gender or economic background in the government. Though Baroness Warsi, now chair of the Conservative Party, made history by becoming the first Muslim to be appointed to the cabinet, she is one of only two politicians from an ethnic minority background in the entire coalition government, with Shailesh Vara MP appointed as an assistant government whip. Fresh from the wounds of electoral defeat, the Labour leadership battle, for a while at least, looked as if it would be no more diverse, with an entirely white, male and Oxbridge-educated list of candidates. However, after calls from many for a more diverse group of candidates for the position, longterm race equality campaigner and MP Diane Abbott announced her candidacy. Following a dramatic battle to receive the 33 parliamentary nominations required to formally stand, Abbott finally made it onto the ballot paper on 9 June 2010, making her the first black candidate ever to stand for the position of leader in the UK’s three major political parties.
The battle did not end on election night, as there was no party that achieved an overall majority on 7 May 2010. Instead, after five days of discussions between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats, the unlikeliest of couples formed a historic coalition agreement – the first between the two since 1974. New prime minister David Cameron and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg have hailed the union as the beginning of a new kind of politics in Westminster, and as an agreement greatly needed due to the current economic backdrop.
local election results
Despite claiming that he would create a ‘political earthquake’, British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin failed to
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Photo: Nina Kelly
phil mawhinney explores the UK’s new financial policy landscape
unnymede’s financial inclusion team has been rifling through the new government’s coalition agreement and listening to the Queen’s speech, hungry to know which direction things are moving in. We have been thinking keenly about how the financial inclusion policy landscape will change under a new government that has a clear priority to reduce the public deficit at a fast rate, and largely by cutting public spending. Which policies will be scrapped, kept or introduced? It is an important time to pause, take stock and anticipate what this new situation means for race equality. sessions, in encouraging marginalised people to take up the service. Time will tell whether the new government really values financial inclusion initiatives such as Money Guidance, but we are pleased at plans to continue to support this particular scheme. Now operating under the recentlycreated Consumer Financial Education Body, we are optimistic that Money Guidance will provide financial support to many BME people in different communities. However, receiving advice can only improve people’s financial situation so far – tackling upstream issues such as a lack of opportunities in the labour market and low levels of education are central to improving people’s lives.
particularly common among Pakistani and Bangladeshi people. This is partly due to a cultural appreciation of running a business, but is also a response to the limited opportunities and discrimination that BME people face.
Concerns highlighted by the report include the worry that BME people who are selfemployed will continue to be at risk of pensioner poverty through not being able to contribute to and receive the S2P. Furthermore, self-employed people will not be auto-enrolled into NEST, they must voluntarily opt in. However, even those that do so will not benefit from the employer contribution, providing them with fewer pension savings overall. Another worry is the plan to increase the State Pension Age to 66 (and eventually 68) at an even faster rate than planned by the previous government, as set out in the Pensions and Savings Bill. This may particularly affect BME people, who often experience high levels of ill health. Statistics from the 2001 Census show that Pakistani and Bangladeshi people are much more likely than white British people to suffer a long-term illness or disability that restricts daily activities. Raising the pension age may mean that many BME people suffering ill health are forced to work later into life.
Our work in the forthcoming couple of years will focus on barriers to money advice services, pension inequalities and obstacles to saving. We have also been looking at financial inclusion issues among older black and minority ethnic (BME) people. This involves finding out how the disadvantage and exclusion that older people experience affects their freedom to choose where to retire to (in the UK or abroad), to live in a decent home, to contribute to family life and to access appropriate health and other services.
Changes in pensions policy are significant given the marked ethnic inequalities in pensioner poverty. The risk of pensioner poverty among Bangladeshi and Pakistani people is 49 per cent, compared to 17 per cent for white people. BME people are also less likely than others to have a private pension or to receive the State Second Pension (S2P). To reduce the large number of people not saving for retirement, the previous government developed a policy to ensure that employers would automatically enrol their employees into a workplace pension scheme from 2012, giving them the choice of to opting out. The new government appears willing to support auto-enrolment, although it is unclear whether it will continue to develop NEST, which is a simple pension scheme into which employees, employers and government would make contributions. We have welcomed these developments, recognising that auto-enrolment would help overcome the inertia that partly explains why half of those aged 25 and 34 are not saving for retirement. However, there is a real danger that advances in policy will do little to enable many BME people to save enough to enjoy a comfortable and stable retirement. A report that is with the printers now looks at the barriers to pensions faced by self-employed BME people - owning small businesses is
progress in money advice
Giving people access to affordable and quality money advice has been a central aspect of financial inclusion policy for years. Indeed, March of this year saw the thenchancellor Alistair Darling MP officially launch the Money Guidance service, which gives free and impartial guidance on a range of financial matters, from budgeting to borrowing to planning for retirement. This coincided with the publishing of our report Seeking Sound Advice: Financial Inclusion and Ethnicity (bit.ly/soundadvice), which describes Bangladeshi, black Caribbean and Chinese people’s financial troubles, their desire for money advice and their experiences of exclusion from existing sources of advice, such as banks and independent financial advisers. We then presented to the Financial Services Authority (FSA) the report’s recommendations on how Money Guidance could include and meet the needs of BME people. These include the important role of BME money advisers and face-to-face advice
work and welfare
Disadvantage in the world of work and the resulting low income is at the root of much financial exclusion that BME people experience, such as low levels of savings, reliance on expensive credit, high levels of debt. Unemployment is high among BME communities, particularly among black and Bangladeshi people. Recent research carried out for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) involved applying for jobs using application forms containing identical qualifications, but with a variety of names associated with different ethnic groups. The results showed that job discrimination on the basis of ethnicity still exists.
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after the election
credit to make up for shortfalls in their income.
Figure 1. Access to pensions by ethnicity (% of all employees and self-employed)
Whole population 65 53 39 Ethnic minorities
80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0
Proportion accruing private pension
We were disappointed to hear that Child Trust Funds (CTFs) will be scrapped. CTFs are taxfree investment funds for children, made up of contributions from the government and family members. The children who benefit from the scheme get access to the fund when they reach 18, with the option of putting it towards further education fees or a housing deposit. CTFs are seen as an aid to social mobility, particularly helping people in low-income families to invest in their future, as well as to develop good saving habits. It is therefore a blow to the financial well-being and social mobility of many disadvantaged and BME people that this policy will come to an end.
Proportion building up entitlement to S2P
surveying the landscape
Source: Pensions Policy Institute, 2008
The coalition government has said it will promote equal pay and introduce measures to end discrimination in the workplace. One planned measure is to provide internships at Whitehall departments for people from underrepresented ethnic groups. We welcome such measures, but it remains to be seen whether new policies will have enough bite to deliver real change. One way to combat racial discrimination could be to require job applications to be name-blind. To make a real impact such a policy would have to be applied to the private as well as public sector, requiring strong political will. Less positively, the government has scrapped the Future Jobs Fund, which guaranteed work or training to 18-24 year olds out of work for six months. This will have a big impact on BME people trying to get into work, with almost half of black people aged between 16 and 24 unemployed, compared to 20 per cent of white people of the same age. Welfare reform has been a hot topic since the election. Sweeping changes are expected, with a renewed drive to ‘get people off benefits’, coupled with the likelihood of significant cuts to welfare spending. It will be important to monitor policy changes, including the progression of the Welfare Reform Bill, in order to anticipate any potentially harmful
effects on people living in poverty, including many BME people.
other financial policies
Welcome news includes the government’s plans to give Post Office Card account holders the ability to set up direct debits and enjoy the discounts they bring. In the area of credit, the government intends to ban excessive interest rates on credit and store cards, to introduce a seven-day cooling off period for store cards and to oblige credit card companies to provide better information to allow customers
Stepping back from the detail of individual policies, we can see that the way the whole policy landscape is shifting raises big concerns over financial exclusion and its underlying causes. The new government is focusing squarely on cutting the public deficit through fast and deep cuts to public spending. Some observers are sceptical about the likelihood that the pain will be shared across society, despite David Cameron’s pledge to protect the poorest among us. As the ‘Big Society’ is promoted, the state is likely to shrink. This may mean a reduction in financial support, whether direct to people’s pockets, or indirectly via schools and other public services. It may also mean that we have a government with less hunger, willpower and
Business ownership is common among Pakistani and Bangladeshi people, partly due to discrimination in other employment
to compare prices. These measures may help protect consumers from entering into spirals of debt. However, they will not address the underlying reality that many people experiencing poverty and disadvantage take on strength to intervene in the market to reduce inequality and to support those who start life at the bottom of the pile. Such a government is unlikely to be one that tackles racial inequalities head on.
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Fresh tactics needed in campaign against far right
kamaljeet gill argues for a more sophisticated discourse to tackle the far right as it gains legitimacy
The recent general election offered, for the first time, the unpalatable prospect of the British National Party (BNP) gaining a foothold in parliament. BNP leader Nick Griffin challenged Barking’s Labour MP Margaret Hodge and, if successful, would have crowned a streak of victories that has seen the party win seats in the London Assembly and the European Parliament. Griffin was defeated into third place, but the fact of his challenge has caused many observers to become concerned by the renaissance of the far right in recent years. Past efforts to counter the party’s rise have tended to focus on the disruption of party events and gatherings and an insistence on not allowing the BNP to share a platform with mainstream parties. Rhetorically, such anti-BNP attacks have relied on more or less open accusations of Nazism. While this comparison has emotive power, it is not necessarily the most effective tactic and, as the party’s growth in popularity implies, new methods are required. A more effective strategy may be to focus debate on subjects with which serious parties must engage, such as taxation, in order to highlight the lack of intellectual rigour that the BNP would bring to these key issues. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of these strategies it will be useful to compare resistance to the BNP with the resistance to an equivalent extremist movement: the post-war Union Movement led by Oswald Mosley, the founder of the British Union of Fascists (BUF). At the end of the Second World War, thousands of British citizens were released from internment for fascist sympathies under the 18b legislation. This followed the release of Oswald Mosley in 1943. A significant number of these internees retained their old political sympathies and it was not long before a variety of smaller movements sprung up that advocated much of the old fascist programme. This time, however, they had learned the lessons of the pre-war period and of internment. As far as possible the term ‘fascist’ was eschewed in favour of ‘patriot’ or ‘union’. The most prominent of these groups, and the one which would later subsume most of the others, was Sir Oswald Mosley’s Union movement. There are considerable similarities between the Union movement and modern far right parties such as the BNP. Perhaps the most prescient for this discussion is that both engaged in extensive efforts to re-brand themselves, yet were and are persistently labelled as ‘disguised’ (often barely disguised) fascists. Large swathes of the population felt deeply aggrieved that people should be free to preach the sort of hatred they believed the country had gone to war to combat. While the Labour government was reluctant to act against these groups, a collection of ex-servicemen – by no means all of whom were Jewish – were intent on preventing the spread of these ideas by whatever means available. To that end they founded ‘The 43 Group’. The group’s preferred tactic was to rush fascist street meetings and wherever possible overturn the speaker’s tables, causing fights to break out and the meetings to be broken up by the police. Constant pressure from the 43 Group and others eventually caused the post-war fascist revival to grind to a halt. In the context of the current wave of far-right activity, this tactic holds an appeal for many anti-fascists who grew up hearing tales about the glorious Battle of Cable Street, which apparently halted a fascist march through London’s East End. As such, it seems profitable to consider just what relevance, and therefore utility, such tactics would have in the current climate. Groups like Unite Against Fascism (UAF) do not openly advocate violence, but their strategy still centres on interrupting or preventing BNP campaigns wherever possible. Surely the 43 Group provides a clear and encouraging model for resisting the far right in our own time? Well, I’d argue probably not, and for several reasons. The first is the particular political situation in which the group operated. Short of inciting active public disorder, the Union movement was legally free to make extremely offensive and threatening comments about ‘Jews’ and ‘Aliens’, or even about the Holocaust. Making these claims today would render them liable for prosecution. More important is the level of legitimacy under which the different parties operated in the past. Even in their pre-war height, fascist movements in Britain had not gained anything like mainstream political status. Arguments can be made as to why, but the fact remains that even compared to their opponents on the left, the BUF remained a threatening fringe rather than a serious electoral prospect. Smaller groups like Arthur Leese’s Imperial Fascist League remained minuscule, even by the BUF’s standards. Of course, the BNP remains a minority concern as well. However, like it or not, the party has won seats in local elections and on the international stage, and has even challenged a longstanding representative of the incumbent party for a seat in parliament. Even a failed electoral attempt at a parliamentary seat represents significant progress for the party in terms of being taken seriously on the national stage. This represents a level of integration into the political mainstream that Mosley could only dream of. This difference is significant because a lack of legitimacy made the Union movement and its outliers particularly susceptible to the disruptive tactics of the 43 Group. Every disturbance at a Union rally and every fight that had to be broken up by police reinforced the idea that this was not a valid or credible political party and never could be. Crucially, it cemented this impression among the respectable middle class, which had not been exposed to fascist aggression before the war and was susceptible to propaganda if the distributors
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seemed trustworthy or respectable. The constant association of the Union movement with violence was fatal to this dynamic. Similarly disruptive tactics deployed against the BNP simply do not have the same effect. Rather they serve to confirm the party’s narrative of a patriotic underdog being suppressed by whatever means. By simply declaring ‘The BNP is a Nazi party; smash the BNP’, movements such as UAF simply reinforce the idea that the BNP’s assailants will say anything to discredit them. Meanwhile, the party has made studious (and apparently successful) efforts to re-brand itself as respectable, and separate its new identity from its old, violent image. At a conference in 2008 British sociologist Paul Gilroy argued prophetically that when the party is in a position to send “... well spoken and respectable young women” out canvassing, the anti-racist campaigners would struggle because the old cries of ‘Nazi’ will no longer appear credible. The BNP’s recent electoral successes and Nick Griffin’s not entirely laughable bid for the Barking constituency suggest that this time is upon us. Yet still the debate has consisted of accusations of Nazism, countered by BNP claims that they are being suppressed by leftist traitors inimical to British interests. While the debate remains at this level there is little room for engagement with what those interests are. This is a serious issue; it ensures the BNP have had an easy ride with the sections of society they intend to attract. They never have to formulate a serious policy beyond muddled ethnographic claims about ‘Anglo-Saxon’ Britishness and repatriation of immigrants. Their record in power is almost universally abysmal, their policies on the NHS, the economy, pensions and education ill-thought through, un-pragmatic and, on occasion, simply bizarre. These issues would sink a more established party, yet they are not fatal for the BNP because the debate never even approaches them.
There are a great many moral objections to racism and fascism, however, one very good practical objection is that they do not work. The NHS would not last a day without the kind of large-scale immigration the BNP opposes. Even the fact that racial violence almost always increases in the wake of a BNP local victory has not proved as damning for the party as it should because potential supporters are so cynical about the opposition that such accusations lack credibility. The final point that separates the 43 Group and the Union party from the BNP and groups like UAF, is that the 43 Group was wellestablished within the communities in which it operated. These communities often had a history of fascist intimidation and recognised a blackshirt when they saw one, even if the uniform had become casual. Without serious community engagement with the issues that gave the BNP a foothold in the first place, mere sloganeering rings hollow. Unfortunately there are no quick fixes to this problem. Opposing the rise of the far right and the political ambitions of the BNP are vital issues. However it cannot be done with counter demos and posters alone. There are reasons why people move over to supporting the far right. These issues run deeper than simply being duped by fascist propaganda. Political disillusionment brought on by economic hardship, unemployment and a collapse of alternative forms of identity and solidarity all play their part. In such an environment the habit of yelling abuse at the BNP without presenting alternatives seems a particularly misguided tactic. Rather, what is needed is serious and long-term community engagement with these complaints and the demands of the communities involved. Support for the BNP is more of a symptom than a cause of political crisis; it is a fatal mistake to view it otherwise.
SUMMER 2010 / ISSUE 362 | runnymede Bulletin | 11
Photo: Kerry Buckley
The expected rise in the number academy schools raises several concerns. david gillborn and david drew compare exclusion rates between types of school, and among different ethnic groups
the last Labour government as a means of granting greater autonomy to selected secondary schools. Initially, City Academies were established in urban areas to serve disadvantaged communities: they are publicly funded independent schools, financed by central government and operating outside local authority (LA)- control. Subsequently academies were established beyond urban areas and the requirement to find an initial contribution of £2million from outside public funds was waived. Both the Labour and Conservative parties entered the 2010 general election making academies a major part of their education plans, at which point there were 203 of them open to students. Following the establishment of our Conservative Liberal for the full Democrat coalition bled government in May 2010, references & ta is ith th academies have been at data that go w nline@ the heart of rapid policy article email o developments. Two weeks medetrust.org runny after the coalition published its initial agreement, Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove MP wrote to all headteachers inviting them to apply for academy status. Seven days later, Gove announced that 1,114 schools had contacted his department in response to the invitation, 626 of which were rated as ‘outstanding’ in their last report by inspections body Ofsted, and therefore already pre-approved for academy status. The expansion in the number of academy as documented in various research studies, schools could see a steep rise in the number of such as Maud Blair’s Why Pick on Me? permanent exclusions. It has been known for Though the public image of excluded pupils sometime that, on average, academies exclude is one of unruly youngsters attacking staff considerably more pupils than LA-maintained or other pupils, this is not the reality in schools. However, no data on race and academy most cases. The most common reason for exclusions has been available, until now. permanent exclusion is ‘persistent disruptive Earlier this year Runnymede’s exclusions behaviour’: a very broad and ill-defined area e-conference (bit.ly/exclusions) included an that accounted for more than 30 per cent of exchange about academies and their record on permanent exclusions in the most recently exclusions. A reply by the then Department published data. By contrast, physical assaults for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) against other pupils and staff accounted for (now the Department for Education) offered 15.7 per cent and 11.6 per cent of exclusions the first concrete statement on race and respectively. Such assaults are of course very academy exclusions. The response said: serious, but they do not lie behind the majority “Academies often inherit a large number of of school exclusions. disengaged pupils from their predecessor schools and need to establish good behaviour growth in numbers in order to raise attainment. As the new ethos and behaviour policies are implemented Academy schools were established by
Photo: Benjamin Chia
lewis hamilton mBe, who was excluded from school aged 16
t is easy, when looking into school exclusion rates, to forget that human stories lie behind the numbers. Formula One 2008 Drivers’ Champion Lewis Hamilton is one case in point. Aged 16, he was excluded from school in a case of mistaken identity after he witnessed an attack. In his autobiography, My Story, he writes: “I knew I was innocent but (the headteacher) did not appear to be interested. Subsequent letters to the local education authority, our local MP, the education secretary and even the prime minister, were of no help. No one appeared to listen – no one either wanted to or had the time. We were on our own, and I was out of school.” Hamilton’s experiences of isolation and rejection due to this miscarriage of justice are shared by many black pupils each year,
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in an academy’s early days, the number of exclusions may rise, but it typically falls as behaviour improves. Taking account of academies’ overall exclusion rates (across the range of ethnicities), recent analysis has shown that there is not a disproportionately higher rate of exclusions of black pupils against nonblack exclusions in academies compared with mainstream secondary schools.”
composition of academies
The first thing to note is that, at present, academies are somewhat more diverse than the pupil population nationally: 62 per cent of academy pupils are white, compared with 83 per cent of pupils across LA-maintained secondary schools. After their white peers, black pupils make up the next largest group in academies: almost 20 per cent were categorised as black Caribbean, black African, other black or mixed (with one white parent and one black Caribbean or black African parent). This same group accounted for just 5 per cent of pupils in LA-maintained secondary schools. This profile reflects the location of academies; most have been established in urban areas with greater than average levels of disadvantage. However, as academy status spreads and includes a significant number of schools that are already performing above the average, it is likely that the pupil profile will become less diverse.
Of course, it is not possible to guarantee that we are comparing like with like. To date academies have served more diverse and disadvantaged populations than the national average. However, in view of the imminent expansion of academies these figures sound an important warning. Academies exclude significantly more pupils than their local authority counterparts. Despite the doubling of exclusion rates for white pupils, a significant race inequality remains because most exclusion rates for black pupils also rise in academies. It is vital that the expansion of academy status is carefully monitored for signs of continuing, even worsening, ethnic inequalities in the rate of permanent exclusion.
Appeals panels represent a vital safeguard against miscarriages of justice; a chance for parents’ voices to be heard. Lewis Hamilton’s experience of exclusion provides a fitting example. Hamilton’s school career was saved because his father mounted a meticulous defence that persuaded an independent appeal panel to reinstate him. Every year significant numbers of permanent exclusions are overturned in this way. Hamilton’s experience is important in that it shows the pupil’s side of the story. Appeals panels are the last hope for those wrongly accused who are facing a hugely negative impact to their future life chances. And yet appeals panels are frequently scapegoated as somehow linked to disruption and indiscipline in society in general, and schools in particular. The coalition government has yet to make any announcement on their future but pre-election statements cast doubt on their continued existence. In a 2008 working paper on behaviour and schools, the Conservative party stated: “We will end the right to appeal against exclusion to an independent appeals panel, which undermines headteachers’ authority and signals that the school cannot cope with violence.” Prior to the 2010 general election, David Cameron said: “The headteacher should have absolute discretion over excluding pupils who are behaving badly. Right now a headteacher can exclude a child who behaves appallingly and the appeals panel can put that kid straight back into school.” In our experience appeals panels think long and hard before reinstating an excluded pupil, not least because of the adverse publicity that can be generated as the result of a bad decision. Indeed, many parents have reported a sense of fear and bewilderment when facing such panels, often without professional representation or support. Furthermore, research suggests that panels rarely reflect
the diversity of the pupil population that they serve. Once again, the exclusions reality does not support the public image. The most recent statistics on the impact of exclusions panels shows that more than 90 per cent of exclusions were not even taken before an appeals panel. This contradicts the idea that countless appeals are frivolously entered into. In total, around 2 per cent of permanent exclusions were eventually overturned by appeals panels, and so the system hardly constitutes a huge disruption to the flow of exclusions. However, panels are highly significant to the people who take their cases forward in hope of finding justice. In 2007/08 panels found in favour of the parent/ pupil in around a quarter of cases that were heard. In the last decade for which data are available, the proportion of appeals that have found in favour of the parent/pupil has ranged between a high of 37 per cent and a low of 20 per cent. Clearly exclusions are by no means a straightforward issue and panels appear to find that a significant proportion raise causes for concern. In view of these findings, any move to abolish appeals panels would be premature and, by denying pupils and parents the right to be heard outside the school, contrary to the principles of natural justice.
the effects of exclusion
Exclusion from school is the most serious sanction available to headteachers and permanent exclusion is strongly related to negative academic and social outcomes. Pupils who have been permanently excluded from school are four times more likely to leave education without qualifications and much more likely to come into contact with the criminal justice system, according to data provided by the Cabinet Office. Academy schools currently exclude a much higher proportion of their pupils than other types of school, and their rate of exclusion for black pupils is higher still. As the new government expands the academy programme, therefore, there is a very real risk of even higher rates of exclusion nationally, with all the associated financial and social costs this would involve. However, this is not an inevitable outcome, as the rate of exclusion is susceptible to external influence. Official targets to reduce exclusion rates in the 1990s made a significant impact, with black exclusion rates roughly halved within this period. It is essential that as academy status is taken up by increasing numbers of schools, the possible impact on exclusions is taken seriously and genuine safeguards are put in place to tackle racial inequality.
race and exclusions
Academies permanently exclude pupils at roughly twice the rate of LA-maintained secondary schools. Overall, pupils in academies are excluded at a rate of 0.42 per cent (which means that around four pupils in every thousand are permanently excluded); the rate for LAmaintained secondaries is 0.21 per cent (roughly two pupils per thousand). In academies the relatively high rate of exclusion among several groups is striking. Black pupils are generally the most likely to be excluded from academies; pupils categorised as ‘any other black background’, black Caribbean, and mixed: (white and black Caribbean) are excluded at the rate of 0.74, 0.72 and 0.64 per cent respectively. The black Caribbean rate is 3.6 times that for whites in an LA-maintained secondary school. However, white pupils are twice as likely to be excluded from academies as from LAmaintained schools. By contrast, pupils categorised as black African or Asian are marginally less likely to be excluded from academies than from other types of school.
SUMMER 2010 / ISSUE 362 | runnymede Bulletin | 13
Key to diversity in the media is off-screen
The BBC’s head of diversity Amanda rice brings together some of the most interesting outcomes of a conference to discuss the media industry and how to improve the diversity within it
t is the responsibility of public service broadcasters to reflect the complexity of modern society. This means reflecting the differences within and between the UK’s communities, nations and regions across all programming and output. What audiences see, hear or interact with on screen or on air is a representation of the world, channelled through the interpretation and production choices of the programme makers. Striving to achieve a fair, sensitive and nuanced portrayal of cultural difference is key. Taking care to avoid the stereotypes of old is crucial if programme makers and broadcasters are to succeed in this purpose. Authentic portrayal is something audiences recognise as soon as they see it; they expect to see it, and so they should.
the importance of accuracy
For anyone who identifies as being from a particular ethnic or cultural community, specificity is all-important. Cultural references, as long as they are accurate and do not appear gratuitous, will resonate with particular audiences because they serve to identify backgrounds, social mores, beliefs and so on. Such cultural signifiers, and the distinct and varied representational contexts within which they appear, can also add great richness and creative potential. Choosing subject matter that has a universal relevance but which can also appeal in specificity to distinct audience groups will be all the more resonant for some. Within drama, storylines must be relevant, and meaningful and written from a position of experience and understanding within any given representational context. Get the stories right and believable characters are far more likely to follow. So, achieving diversity off-screen among the myriad back-room and behind camera personnel can have a huge impact on the
ability to accurately reflect the diversity of the UK’s many audiences. Couple this with using people on-screen who look and sound like modern Britain to present programmes, deliver news and appear regularly across all genres in a variety of capacities, and ratings are likely to increase. Moreover the public service broadcaster will be truly serving the UK’s diverse audiences. The real challenge is how to make sure the whole industry recruits, develops and retains employees from diverse backgrounds. These choices are many and powerful. Decisions about subject matter, casting, contributors, commentary, storylines, scripts, editing, music, location, as well as how, when and to whom output is promoted, all influence the ‘reality’ which is then portrayed. This, in turn, can shape the views of society in relation to those groups.
is it all white now?
With all that in mind, I attended the Royal Television Society event Diversity in Broadcasting - is it all white now? in May 2010. It was encouraging to hear Equalities and Human Rights Commission chair Trevor Phillips, Diane Abbott MP, and Pat younge (the BBC’s first black Head of TV Productions) acknowledge that some progress had been over the past decade. It is worth noting that headline findings from a report commissioned by Channel 4 for pan broadcast industry body the Cultural Diversity Network do seem to support this perception. Top line data that was revealed to representatives from the independent broadcasting sector recently show that within a snapshot analysis of TV content across C4, BBC1, BBC2, Sky, ITV1 and Five during a three-week period in September last year 10.2 per cent of the total TV population were identified as being from an ethnic minority
background. The highest figure of the same research as regards separate television genres was 18 per cent – in relation to those appearing in soap operas. It is interesting to look at the detail too. I was not surprised to see that what is described as ‘Far Eastern’ in the report were only represented at 5 per cent, whil the broad ‘Black’ category was the biggest at 41 per cent, followed by South Asian at 32 per cent. It is early days and robust processes need to be agreed, but it is encouraging that the whole industry - public service broadcasters as well as commercial and some independents - are now working together far more actively to identify ways to build up a true picture of what is happening on screen. Returning to the event, younge compared viewing now to when, as a child in the 70s, he had excitedly called upstairs to announce the fleeting appearance of a black face on screen. Phillips remarked on the numbers of people from all backgrounds who were interested enough in the topic to attend the debate at all. Given this however, he questioned why there are still so few black and minority ethnic (BME) people at the top in the broadcast and creative media sector. His contention was that it is the culture of the industry, which is still underpinned by an innate lack of confidence in the abilities and leadership potential of ‘the other’ to hold and succeed in key decision making roles, that still hinders progress. Abbott, while acknowledging a degree of progress, asked why it had been so slow in coming. She cited the habit of recruiting in one’s own image, particularly in an industry where it is all about who you know, as being a key factor that continues to inhibit opportunities for black talent. In the words of BBC non-executive director Samir Shah in 2008, the problem is not deliberate discrimination but something which is far more insidious: ‘cultural cloning’. A discussion on ways to counter this phenomenon then focused on the need for
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policies. Marcia Williams, formerly head of diversity at the UK Film Council, spoke from the audience about the work that the Broadcast Training and Equalities Regulator (BETR) has been doing with the major broadcasters to develop a performance measurement framework promoting equal opportunities in employment. Monitoring employee diversity - and using that data year on year to assess progress and identify patterns or trends which can then be addressed - underpins the framework. While such data collection is crucial, it must be used in conjunction with clear advice and training to ensure everyone understands how to help open up the industry and provide opportunities for all groups, and to demonstrate why employing a diverse workforce matters.
So, why does it matter? younge and Helen Veale, of Outline Productions, described what they saw as the fundamental drivers for diversity both on and off screen. Veale focused on the overarching imperative to attract big audiences. That, she argued, was the rationale for reflecting diverse audiences. In addition to the moral imperative and the obvious good business sense of seeking to reflect diversity
in output, younge emphasised the BBC’s clear public service imperative to serve all licence fee payers and to ‘reflect the diversity of the UK’, which is a core public purpose. The assumption here of course is that employing a diverse workforce will naturally contribute to greater diversity on screen. While I would agree with that in principle, care should be taken not to assume that greater diverse representation is an automatic outcome. A dominant organisational culture can cause many to leave their difference at the door and to wear a somewhat different identity at work. Women are fairly well-represented across the industry, if less well in more senior roles, yet a recent snapshot content analysis revealed men still outnumber women 2:1 on screen. This figure has remained the same for a number of years. All that being said, the industry undoubtedly values diversity as a bringer of great talent and as a catalyst for creativity. It is just the small matter of how to bring it in and develop it, so that there are more diverse faces and perspectives around the top tables and among the key decision makers. younge, while acknowledging improvements in policy and practice around recruitment, pointed to the whole industry as still being notoriously difficult to navigate for any potential new entrant. Just understanding
the language is the first hurdle and there is a broad recognition that the industry functions through networks. Issues of exclusion for those from working class backgrounds were discussed as being a very real obstacle to achieving greater diversity. The longstanding convention that media industry work experience trainees are unpaid means that those from lower income families are highly unlikely to get that first foot in the door and exposure to all important networks. The panel all conceded that it is far easier for well-educated, middle class young people whose parents can afford to support them, to gain the experience needed to progress. Thankfully, the major broadcasters are increasingly introducing opportunities for various paid internship programmes. The event finished with the panel and audience asked to reflect on the critical difference between intentions and outcomes. All those who had bothered to turn up were likely to have plenty of the former and there is much good work underway across the sector. For those working in the industry though, it is achieving the latter that matters. We must now ensure the industry successfully brings in and develops a critical mass of highly skilled, creative talent from the widest range of social and cultural backgrounds. This will be pivotal in shaping and influencing the future look, feel and sound of UK media output.
SUMMER 2010 / ISSUE 362 | runnymede Bulletin | 15
Photo: Benedict Hilliard
Then and now
rosalind edwards and chamion caballero outline the findings of their research into prejudice faced by lone mothers of mixed-race children
BBc diversity manager sue caro raised sons Ajani (l) and omari on her own
professionals. Though overt forms of prejudice can still be all too prevalent in the everyday lives of lone mothers of mixed racial and ethnic children, the contemporary mothers spoke about assumptions and racism taking covert and implied, rather than more direct, forms. By contrast, the 1960s lone mothers reported direct and explicit remarks and discriminatory treatment.
A striking distinction between the concerns of the two sets of lone mothers relates to changing understandings of children’s needs over the past half a century. All the women expressed similar worries about their financial and material situations, but the contemporary mothers also focused on concerns about supporting their children’s emotional wellbeing in relation to their ethnic identities as well as being in a lone parent family. These kinds of references to children’s identity and family structure were almost entirely absent in the discussions of the 1960s mothers.
Photo: Courtesy of Sue Caro
Lone mothers bringing up children from mixed racial and ethnic backgrounds have long been subject to negative judgments about their moral behaviour and childrearing. Any mother bringing up a child without a resident man has been seen as transgressing various social boundaries. But for those women whose children are from mixed ethnic backgrounds, it is clear that such pathologisation is compounded. However, mixed-race families, including those headed by lone mothers, have been part of the social fabric of the UK for decades. Knowledge about their situation, however, both now and in the past, is thin on the ground. This is where Lone Mothers of Mixed Racial and Ethnic Children: Then and Now, the research report I co-authored with Chamion Caballero, fills in some of the gaps.
racial prejudice and social assumptions
We found that, in both the 1960s and 2000s (the periods from which our data came), mothers - and particularly white mothers whose children’s fathers were from black African or African Caribbean backgrounds – keenly felt that derogatory assumptions were made about women who partnered outside of their own racial or ethnic backgrounds. These social judgments usually involved the mother’s sense of morality and her sexual behaviour. In this respect, it seems that little has changed over the past half a century. But the mothers’ accounts did indicate that there may have been some shifts in the way in which such attitudes are expressed socially, especially regarding interactions with officials and
These distinctions may well be connected to wider social changes. Both in relation to understanding of the relevance of racial and ethnic identities and, secondly, the reframing of contemporary childrearing as a complex set of skills that require parents to be ever-involved and watchful.
Assumptions are often made that mixed racial and ethnic children brought up in lone mother families have little, if any, contact with their biological fathers. The mothers’ accounts, both then and now, showed that non-resident fathers could be a presence in their children’s lives in variable ways. The level of contact and contributions of fathers differed as much in the 1960s as they did in the 2000s. Some were a noticeable, even constant presence, others were in contact intermittently or absent entirely. In this respect, it seems that fathers’
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involvement has not changed over time. However the social context has shifted considerably. The responsibility that most of the contemporary mothers expected their children’s fathers to take is echoed in government policy, which obliges the non-resident parent to contribute regular financial support for their children. Such policy obligations are accompanied by social expectations, which see the presence of biological fathers as playing an important role in children’s identity and development. These sorts of obligations and expectations were not a part of the 1960s mothers’ lives, either on personal or societal levels.
sue caro and her sons as young boys
Hostility, rejection and isolation from their parents and families of origin have long been thought to be the fate of lone mothers of mixed racial and ethnic children. The accounts of both sets of mothers we looked at for our research showed a continuation of variability in experiences of such relationships within the two time periods. Some have close and supportive relationships with their families, others have more strained or difficult interactions - and not necessarily due to the fact of having partnered outside their racial or ethnic group. A significant shift, however, is the family relationships that contemporary mothers may now have with their children’s fathers’ families, particularly if those families are from ethnic or racial minority backgrounds. The majority of the contemporary mothers had contact with the father’s family, many on a regular basis. Again, although the type and quality of this contact varied amongst families, it appears present in a way that was almost completely unknown for lone mothers in the 1960s. This lack of contact is doubtless reflective of patterns of migration and settlement in Britain among minority ethnic families at the time, with men likely to have travelled to England alone. The availability of wider minority ethnic kin suggests an additional support source for lone mothers of mixed-race children in modern Britain.
Photo: Courtesy of Sue Caro
available to lone mothers. There are now numerous specialist organisations that provide advice, information and support. Furthermore, the provision of resources that help mothers to support their children’s racial or ethnic identity development, as well as other aspects of their children’s emotional well-being, has also been a significant development for mothers. These trajectories of continuity and change in experiences of attitudes and support for lone mothers bringing up mixed-race children in the UK across 40 years reveal both similarities and differences, not only between the 1960s and 2000s, but also within each time period. What appears to have remained a
Over the past 40 years or so, considerable shifts have taken place in the formal support services
constant over the last half a century, however, is the type of informal support that lone mothers of mixed racial and ethnic children draw on. In addition to the roles that the children’s fathers and extended families may play, friendship networks feature strongly in mothers’ accounts, both then and now. In particular, though their importance can often be overlooked, friendship networks in which mothers can share common experiences with other women in the same circumstances appear to be of great importance to them. With such informal networks often providing sources of invaluable support in mothers’ lives, it may be important to consider the effect of an absence of such networks may have, particularly in situations where other resources are limited. For the full report: http://bit.ly/lonemothers
SUMMER 2010 / ISSUE 362 | runnymede Bulletin | 17
Migration and risk
camille Aznar argues for a new discourse on risk analysis as related to migration policy
ver the past two decades, EU discourse has served to emphasise the positive role of migration for social and economic development and has highlighted the role of diasporas in the development of migrants’ countries of origin. Additionally, national governments have persisted with the political priority of securing Europe’s external borders with an increasingly reactive approach to immigration. Many migration management measures have intensified, particularly since 9/11 (with the development of citizenship tests, increase in deportation orders, militarisation of border control and so on); a tendency which has been heightened by the current economic crisis which has left millions in Europe jobless. Migration management policies that limit entry to skilled migrants have become increasingly stringent and somewhat of a policy trend in many European countries. Faced with conflicting dynamics (while the economic logic of liberalism is one of openness, the political and legal logic is one of closure, something that James Hollifield refers to as the “liberal paradox”) and in attempts to balance the costs and benefits of immigration, countries have had to re-conceptualise migration in terms of risk management.
A girl waits uncertainly at the us border
On one hand migration is depicted as an essential adjustment variable for the labour market which is couched as a positive risk, while on the other hand it is often portrayed in terms of negative risks (i.e. terrorism, crime, disorder, cultural anxiety, public health, etc). Arguably, stringent migration management has resulted in high-risk migration, primarily in the form of irregular migration, which is currently targeted for attention,
Those leaving their country of origin due to a lack in opportunities will continue to run the risks involved in migration
while low risk migration, such as the influx of skilled workers, is channelled through specially designed entry programmes. Recent documentation from the Border and Immigration Agency of the Home Office has mirrored this shift, explicitly
citing the importance of ‘risk management’ as a strategy for border control. This strategy is reportedly oriented towards identifying and screening out risky immigrants and visitors from desirable tourists, business visitors and skilled migrants. New e-borders, involving the biometric data collection of visitors to the UK are being used to fix people’s identities at the earliest point practicable. The young coalition government is likely to go a step further, considering their pledge to introduce an annual limit on the number of non-EU economic migrants allowed to work in the country. Though issues of border security and control are not to be minimised, it is important to note that imposing excessive controls on migration poses its own risks. For example, excessive control might deter wanted and needed migration. Meanwhile the contraction of legal entry channels can cause more desperate migrants to enter the country via illicit means, thereby fuelling people smuggling and the criminal organisations associated with it.
migration risk and government policy
Over the last 20 years, the broader notion of risk has become central to every government policy initiative, from the ecological risk to the terrorist and medical risk. According to contemporary thinker Ulrich Beck we now live in an era of risk or a ‘risk society’, which is characterised by a heightened awareness of risk and its changing nature. He argues, along with supporters of his work, that living in a ‘world risk society’ makes us both involved and vulnerable to local, national and global risks in our personal and professional lives. In his book Risk Society Beck notes that, prior to this notion of global risk, “hazards assaulted the nose or the
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Photo: David Dennis
eyes and were thus perceptible to the sense, while the risks of resources are then pooled with income from migration in order civilisation today typically escape perception.” One of the main to meet the needs of families elsewhere. concepts of the risk society is that of reflexive modernity. Broadly High-risk migration, typically involving non-documented speaking, this has several interlinking threads. The first is that migrants, can include a spectrum of risks with various economy, governance and culture are now global, and that the combinations of probability and severity. For example, the power of the nation-state has diminished. Going alongside this maximum severity risk - that of death - may only be of a small is an increase in the magnitude and complexity of risks that are probability. However, economic loss, physical abuse, or other now out of all proportion to any previously encountered, and forms of hardship, though less severe than death, could be have outgrown the regulatory ability of national state-based much more likely. Making this distinction between the various legal systems. The risk society, Beck asserts, is also a society types of risk and their levels of severity can refine analysis of based on ‘individualisation’, that is, traditional social ties are decision-making processes in high-risk migration. Information being replaced by individualised, choice-based social, political about relative risk in these cases becomes one of numerous and economic institutions. Though this increases freedom, it factors affecting the decision to migrate, and is often not the also increases the risks that individuals are forced to take in most important. Often, risk-taking decisions are made on areas such as employment and welfare – i.e. they may well the basis of risk perceptions, which are in turn influenced by struggle to earn a basic living. Social hierarchies are now based information about the potential risks involved in the migration on risk rather than wealth, and people are more focused on the process as well as also personal experience. distribution of ‘bads’, (or the realisation of untoward risks) than For example, evidence on ‘pirogue migration’ (unauthorised on the production of goods. migration aboard small boats from West Africa to the Canary Marginalised people, among them migrants, become Islands) suggests that, in many cases, the migration does vulnerable to an increasing number of risks, while also not result from ignorance about risks, but from the need to categorised as being ‘risky’. Those in need of help potentially overcome poverty and hardship. A similar point is observed are more likely to be seen as a threat and potentially further by U.S border policy analyst, Joseph Nevis, in demonstrating marginalised or excluded from the societies in which they live. the US government’s use of risk as a tool to discourage Migrants, and particularly irregular migrants, are more likely unauthorised crossings. The U.S Border Patrol have to be excluded in their host countries by being categorised increased the number of agents on each major entry corridor as “risky”. This experience of exclusion then negates full civic such as El Paso or San Diego while developing its use of membership of a community, hindering migrants’ potential technology; attempting to raise the risk of apprehension high contribution to wider society. enough to be an effective deterrent. If states put risks, potential or real, However, there appears to be no at their heart of their decision making decrease in crossings. on migration management, migrant Information campaigns that purport populations will bear the consequences the assumption that migrants are fAct Box of associating migration with risk. While unaware of the dangers involved in highSince 1998 more than 4,000 risk and uncertainty are pervasive in all risk migration have proved ineffective. forms of migration and at all stages of the people have died trying There is indeed no straightforward migration cycle, this uncertainty should relationship between risk awareness to cross the Mexican-American not be used to malign migrants and the and attitudes to dangerous migration. border. Annually, more than migration process. What appear to be the deciding factor 600,000 migrants are apprehended for migrants considering a perilous as they attempt to cross the border border crossing, is how dire the life to the north without documents reducing risk opportunities they are escaping, rather More than 5,900 child than the risk involved in the process. migrants arrived in the It is important to acknowledge that people decide to migrate for a multitude European Union in 2009, compared A change of perspective of reasons: poverty, social upheaval, with 3,380 in 2008. The UN High political turmoil, economic instability, Commission of Refugees (UNHCR) unstable climates as well as to live and Repressive migration management has warned that these children earn outside their country of origin. Many policies are, therefore, doomed to fail for could be in danger of abuse of the factors that lead to migration, such as long as the conceptualisation of risk Over the last decade, more as social upheaval, increase a person’s remains outdated. As long as the main than 13,000 bodies have been vulnerability, but those who migrate reason for migrants to leave their country recovered in the Mediterranean, often do so as a risk reduction strategy. of origin is the lack of opportunities or many of them thought to be In many cases, migration becomes a right to make a decent life in their home migrants attempting to reach Italy necessity in order to earn a living, or country, they will continue to run maximum to escape or recover from traumatic from North Africa. severity risks. Treating migration as a experiences. The intention of the migrant ‘risk’ needing to be managed has proved Around 1.7 million Afghan is to further reduce risks of violence and ineffective. The debate on migration refugees and migrants live economic vulnerability. and development should focus on in Pakistan, and 933,000 in the The American sociologist Douglas identifying positive synergies between Islamic Republic of Iran Massey argued that for many migrants, migration and risk management, rather migration was a way to capitalise on the than the development of more restrictive household’s labour power, as household migration control policies.
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How representative would proportional represenation be?
omar khan takes us through alternative voting systems. With each available for scrutiny, conclusions can be drawn on whether a change in voting system would equal a change in representation
he question of what makes a voting system proportional is difficult and contentious, so it is important to focus on the question of how different systems may impact black and minority ethnic (BME) representation in the UK. According to Nick Clegg in his first speech as deputy prime minister, more proportional systems provide better representation for under-represented groups. But the evidence (internationally and in the UK) on this point is more complicated, especially for the AV (alternative vote) system on which the coalition government has agreed to hold a referendum. Most European countries have various kinds of proportional voting systems. Only one country - the Netherlands - does as well or better than the UK in terms of the representation of black and minority ethnic people. The Netherlands has a party list system and 8 per cent of Dutch MPs are BME (compared to roughly 11 per cent of the population). Conversely, France, which has a nonproportional voting system, has only 2 BME MPs out of 555, or 0.4 per cent compared to an overall BME population of 12.6 per cent. But countries with more proportional voting systems do not always deliver more BME representatives. For example, in Germany (where exactly half of all candidates are selected on a mixed member proportional system) only 1.3 per cent of representatives are from a black and minority ethnic background, compared to almost 5 per cent of the population. For whatever reason, BME candidates are not selected for their parties’ lists in Germany, and indeed elsewhere in Europe. It is of course also likely that different political cultures, citizenship law, and responses to ethnic diversity are likely to affect representation whatever the electoral system. It is not always appreciated that the UK has a number of different electoral systems in its various representative bodies. The key point is that the sorts of proportional systems we have in the UK do not tend to result in a significant increase in the number of BME representatives. Westminster elections are decided by perhaps the most influential example of first past the post (FPTP). In the 2010 UK general election, this system resulted in 27 BME MPs
being elected, 16 Labour and 11 Conservative Just over 4 per cent of parliament is now BME, compared to roughly 10-11 per cent BME in the total population; the 2001 Census counted 8 per cent BME people, while the 2007 estimate for England was 11.3 per cent and, given existing trends, the 2011 Census is likely to estimate a UK BME population at 11 to 12 per cent The Scotland, Wales and London Assemblies all have mixed voting systems, with the majority decided by FPTP, and between 33 and 44 per cent of their members chosen by proportional lists. Scotland and Wales have very small BME populations, but each assembly has returned one BME member through their list system. The Scottish MSP, Bashir Ahmed, has since died, while the Welsh AM, Mohammad Asghar, defected from Plaid Cymru to the Conservative party. In London, the four BME assembly members (16 per cent) represent roughly half the proportion of London’s BME population (35 per cent or more), and only one of the four was elected via the list. While proportional systems seem to provide greater representation of BME people, so far this has provided a quite modest effect. Indeed, when Scotland moved to a single transferable voting (STV) system for local elections in 2007, there was no increase in the number of BME councillors. The European Parliament election further explains the role that proportional representation (PR) might be able to play in increasing the number of disadvantaged groups on UK representative bodies. There is a slightly higher number of BME MEPs from the UK (5.7 per cent) than there is in the House of Commons (4.1 per cent), but there are three caveats. First is that there are fewer MEPs, meaning that they each contribute more to proportionality (or indeed disproportionality). Second is that the number of overall MEPs from all European countries is very low indeed (1.1 per cent). Third is that the House of Lords - a chamber that is currently wholly appointed - has a roughly similar share of BME members (5.2 per cent), as does the UK delegation in Brussels, and more than in the House of Commons. What conclusions can we draw from this admittedly brief study of BME representation
and electoral systems? First, that the choice of system does indeed have some effect, but the effect derives from more ‘pure’ proportional systems, such as single transferable vote (with more than one representative per constituency) or party lists. Other considerations include how constituency boundaries are drawn, and the dispersal of a given population. Second, however, is that party leadership and commitment to ethnic representation is as important as the proportionality of a system in increasing the numbers of under-represented groups. In the Netherlands, for example, the popularity of anti-immigrant parties led leaders to place black and minority ethnic candidates in a high position on their lists, thereby ensuring they would get voted in. If, however, party leaders do not select BME candidates for their list, then such candidates are no more likely to get voted in than they are under FPTP. This last point is worth reflecting on in the UK context. In recent Westminster elections, both the Labour Party and the Conservative Party have been able to improve the representation of women and BME people through measures adopted by the party leadership, namely allwomen shortlists and the ‘A-list’. Whatever the merits of these policies, they have been successful in increasing representation, even in a FPTP electoral system. And, of course, the unelected House of Lords is still more representative than the Commons, indicating that party leaderships could perhaps deliver even better results. We should therefore be cautious in agreeing with Nick Clegg’s claim that PR will increase the representation of disadvantaged and under-represented groups. It is worth bearing in mind that the Liberal Democrats currently have no BME MPs, and have only a very small number of women MPs. Given that the coalition agreement explicitly states that our future referendum will be on the alternative vote only, which is not strictly speaking a proportional system at all, there is no reason to believe that this reform will increase the number of women or BME MPs. Without wider changes in political party leadership, membership and procedures, electoral reform will not result in our representatives being any more proportionate.
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A long way to go
Liberal Democrat councillor and journalist lester holloway on political representation for black and minority ethnic groups
n the words of Dr Martin Luther King Jr “We’ve come a long way; we still have a long, long way to go.” This was a comment taking stock of gains made in the civil rights movement. yet the sentiment equally applies well when reflecting on the increased numbers of black and minority ethnic MPs at the 2010 general election. Since the 1987 breakthrough, when Diane just about getting black and brown faces into the club, but also recognising that the hopes of BME communities rested on their shoulders. And if they were serious about tackling racism and disadvantage they could not do it alone; they needed to organise. Grant was saying, in effect, that we still have a long way to go. Today we seem to have come full circle with talk of a UK version of the Congressional
I remember feeling a great sense of pride when I saw Bernie Grant turn up to parliament wearing traditional African robes
Abbott, Keith Vaz, Paul Boateng and the late Bernie Grant made it to parliament, progress has been painfully slow. Until this year. On 6 May 2010 BME MPs almost doubled, up from 15 to 27, while the number of Asian women rose from zero to six. The recent gains are impressive on the face of it, yet put the figures in context and they tell a different story altogether. Collectively the BME MPs only represent four per cent of the House of Commons. This is well short of the respective figure for the BME population in Britain, which is now estimated to be between 13 and 15 per cent. Labour’s acting leader Harriet Harman said in 2007 that Britain needed four times more BME representatives in Westminster in order to reflect the society government serves. yet progress remains slow – according to new figures from the Office of National Statistics, we still need three and a half times more MPs of colour. I remember feeling immense pride as a teenager when I saw Bernie Grant turn up to the state opening of parliament wearing traditional African robes, and when Paul Boateng declared: “Today Brent South, tomorrow Soweto!” It felt like the dawning of a new era and the end of years of struggle. That new era faced its first setback when Grant’s attempts to set up a parliamentary black caucus floundered as Boateng refused to cooperate. Grant realised that representation was not Black Caucus. But most of the new intake is likely to shun black self-organisation, just as Boateng did 23 years earlier. Fooled into believing that the patronage of their party’s elite and their own talents are enough to guarantee them success, I predict that BME MPs will overlook the achievements that African-American politicians have made courtesy of the Congressional Black Caucus, favouring instead the ‘mainstreaming’ approach that is fashionable now. But mainstreaming needs to be judged by results. Has mainstreaming equality in the workplace worked, when the already disproportionate levels of BME unemployment have rocketed during this recession? Has it worked in the police, where racial bias in stop and search has also increased inexorably over past years? I think not. Race, gender and religion do have an impact on politics where there is a critical mass of candidates from a particular community to affect change. Labour introduced all-women shortlists in the 1997 election, resulting in more than 100 new women MPs, which gave parliament a critical mass of women. This was used effectively by Harriet Harman to introduce new measures on childcare, maternity leave, domestic and sexual violence and forced marriages. In this case, representation led to results. How different might life have been for BME communities today had Grant been successful in creating a caucus? Sadly, a lack
lester holloway, lib dem councillor for sutton north
of unity between MPs of colour has cost the very communities who most looked to them to combat race discrimination. This cost will only be made more striking by the increased numbers of BME MPs, while the status quo remains the same. This is where voter participation counts. Not just at election time, but holding our MPs to account on a daily basis. Criminal justice, unemployment and mental health data all show disproportionate numbers of BME people faring much worse than their white counterparts. Black communities can, and should, play a greater role in selecting MPs. Open primaries offer one route, as does the idea of an Apprentice-style talent search first floated by Sunder Katwala of the Fabian Society. We must not let talk of ‘inclusive politics’ put us off recognising how much BME talent there is out there – and the need to find it. As an issue, black representation is too important to be left to party apparatchiks picking candidates behind closed doors. Not only has progress been too slow but the BME MPs who have been successful have often shied away from directly tackling ingrained racism in society. In an era of ‘new politics’, now is the time to grasp just how much there is still to do.
SUMMER 2010 / ISSUE 362 | runnymede Bulletin | 21
Are you passionate about race equality? do you want to increase your connections and challenge racism?
Runnymede 360° is a new national network connecting aspiring and established leaders in race equality. By joining the network you would increase your knowledge base, improve your professional skills, and make contacts that may help you in your work, while also contributing to challenging racism. Being part of runnymede 360° will enable members to: • have the opportunity to raise their profile • share their experience and learn from others • create partnerships across regions and sectors for future work • have early access to Runnymede’s work and events • have access to the latest policy developments related to race equality Runnymede draws on over forty years’ experience providing research intelligence, policy influence, and partnership building in order to promote a successful multi-ethnic Britain. The aim of Runnymede 360° is to bring together the most passionate and innovative thinkers and actors in race equality from all sectors, backgrounds and regions of the UK. The network meets monthly at seminars, e-conferences and receptions. It also has an online discussion space to keep up with the latest current events and policy developments on race equality. the ideal candidate will: • have been working in private, public or voluntary sectors for a minimum period of five years • have an understanding of the policy and practice landscape on national and/or local levels • have the ability to apply their knowledge, creativity and experience to their commitment to race equality, equal opportunities and social justice • be committed to the network for at least two years during which they will be expected to contribute to the Runnymede Bulletin, attend Runnymede 360° on/offline events, and participate in the Runnymede 360° social networking space Most importantly, the Runnymede 360° member will have something to say and will want to say it. Why not apply to join? The deadline for applications is 30 August 2010 for interviews taking place in the cities of Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow. For more information on current members and details on how to apply go to: www.runnymedetrust.org/360net
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Ending racist violence
sarah isal is co-author of a forthcoming Runnymede report on preventing racist violence in the European Union. Here she outlines what can be learned from the work already being done
here is currently not a single European country untouched by the problem of racist violence. Numbers of incidents seem to be increasing every year, a trend which goes hand in hand with the growing popularity of extreme right movements, both in EU member states, as well as in the European Parliament itself. Therefore, European countries simply cannot ignore this problem. Racist violence and harassment takes various shapes and forms. In some cases, it expresses itself through extreme violence, such as the recent murders of Roma families in Hungary at the hands of extreme-right groups. However, racist violence is not only about the extreme cases, it also manifests itself in the daily harassment of minority groups because of what they look like, whom they worship policy and arts engagement. For instance, a theatre project, working with young people to express and then question some of their prejudice was effective in preventing young people from engaging in racist violence and harassment in their neighbourhoods. Similarly, a targeted intervention by a youth worker on an estate working with a group of young people who expressed extremely racist views led to a drastic reduction of racial harassment in that particular neighbourhood. We have seen a variety of responses to the violence affecting minorities in Europe. The response can depend on the country’s tradition of answering to racist violence, whether it is recognised as an issue, whether data on racist violence is available or not, or if for instance extreme right parties are part of government. All these factors have an impact on both levels context of racist attitudes, coming from their peers and the wider society around them. For this reason, it is important to have a holistic approach to prevention. These are just a few of the themes discussed in the roundtable and which feature in the roundtable report, out shortly. In addition, the report includes goodpractice examples of work carried out by the various organisations present, highlighting the unique feature for each project that could be replicated in different settings. Broadly speaking, the projects showcased in the report could be categorised into three types. First, those that challenge racist discourses and change the environment through leisure activities or humour. For example, Les Indivisibles (France) seek to identify racist prejudice in public discourse. Rather than directly challenging the language, they use humour to allow people to think about it and not take the newspaper headlines for granted as being true. Les Indivisibles also stage a mock ceremony, handing special ‘awards’ to politicians and journalists who have made the most racist comments. Second, there are those projects that bring different groups together in various activities to challenge racist attitudes and stereotypes. For example, Plant a Flag Against Racism (Belgium) uses leisure activities to teach about anti-racism, bringing youth of different backgrounds together to break down stereotypes. They give quality labels to local youth work groups and projects who work on anti-racism. Third, there are projects included that provide training and promote awareness raising. For example, Show Racism the Red Card (UK) engages in anti-racism education using the high profile of professional footballers. The organisation produces antiracist resources such as DVDs, education packs, posters and magazines, and organise educational programmes of work for young people, as well as festivals, events and competitions. The roundtable report will therefore be of use to any practitioner working towards combating racist violence, through work with young people in particular. * Roundtable report will be available shortly. For 2002 report see: http://bit.ly/racistviolence
Racist violence is also about the cases of daily harrassment
or where they come from. As Ben Bowling stated: “Any discussion of violent racism must link the extreme to the everyday.” Taking all these things into consideration, as well as the fact that most perpetrators of racist (and other) violence do not get caught, Runnymede has long argued for a stronger focus on prevention. While it is crucial to ensure that victims of racist violence and harassment get appropriate support and particular attention needs to be paid to bringing perpetrators to justice, it is equally important to find ways to reduce the number of people actually engaging in such violence. This can be done by working with them to challenge sometimes deeply entrenched racist attitudes. Over the past decade Runnymede has taken an interest in what works to prevent racist violence, in particular through challenging racist attitudes with potential perpetrators. Past research has found that prevention work takes many forms, and can work at a variety of levels. In particular, our 2005 research (see bit.ly/prevracistviolence) reported that prevention work could be found in diverse policy areas, ranging from community cohesion to crime reduction strategies, youth of racist violence nationally and any responses (or lack of) to it. Runnymede organised a European roundtable in October 2009 in London, bringing together a range of projects from eight European countries that work with young people to tackle the underlying causes of racism, with an aim to prevent it. At the roundtable, participants shared their experience of working on prevention, focusing on the specific themes affecting their work, such as inter-agency work, wholecommunity approaches, the support needs of staff, the challenges around funding and the strategies to accurately monitor and evaluate their work. A forthcoming report has emerged from this roundtable, which draws together the commonalities and lessons learnt from the different practices outlined. Prevention is not always a popular notion. It is hard to quantify, and showing the impact of preventative strategies can also be a challenge. How do you, for instance, prove that a particular young person would have committed a racist crime without a particular intervention? Similarly, not all racists will go on to commit an act of racist violence, but those who do often operate in a broader
SUMMER 2010 / ISSUE 362 | runnymede Bulletin | 23
A view from... WALES
isabel Adonis has explored her own mixed-race identity through visual art and her book And: A conjunction of history and imagination. Here she reflects on her experience of being non-white and Welsh
ales is light years away from London; and north Wales is light years away from Cardiff. Llandudno, where I live, is still trying hard to be Victorian. What is ordinary in London is still extraordinary here. Not that there are no tensions between cultures and communities in cities across the border, but there is a familiarity, a notion at least of a growing multicultural society. Here in north Wales, however, people like me are supposed to live in London or Manchester, or go back to where they came from. I am one of a scattered few; not one of many. This makes a huge difference to every aspect of life as a minority ethnic person in Wales. Over the years, all manner of confusion has been brought to my door, which has been nothing to do with me. But this is the place I came to when I was a little girl and this is the only place I can call home. My mother was Welsh and my upbringing was Welsh. I am Welsh, and yet I do not fit in Wales, and neither do my children.
community. The only place I can have in the legislative framework is as an ‘other’. The pressure on ethnic minorities is one of participation and representation, as if there were a unified community or group that we must join. But this sense of nation is for the purpose of power, and only imagined. There is no homogenised Welsh community, neither is there a unified notion of self or a fixed identity. I am Welsh, West Indian, mixed, whatever, and not truly any of these. Identities and nations are ideas - fictions that serve to divide people as they bring them together. The discourse of power is always about whom to leave in and whom to leave out.
wales as separate
Wales has separated itself from England. And it has separated itself from ethnic minorities, gays and Gypsies, only to then claim them back under the rubric of diversity and inclusiveness. There is talk about the
There is talk about the black Welsh, but no one mentions the white Welsh; it is taken for granted that Welsh means white
My problem with the devolved government and just about everyone else is that they want to make me black. To claim I am white would be a joke, but I certainly do not want to be grateful for being granted a place in my own country. The so-called ‘new nation’ (in Wales) is welcoming black people as though there is a need to catch up with London. Ethnic minority credentials must be paraded, and Wales must be seen to be inclusive. Wales’ interest in slavery is now being discussed and written about, though no one was interested before. But even as I am given a place as ‘black Welsh’, I am denied my own voice, which is not black Welsh. I don’t know any black people apart from saying hello to the odd one or two, and I don’t live in a black ‘black Welsh’, but no one mentions the ‘white Welsh’; it is taken for granted that Welsh means white. Again, being Welsh means to assert racial difference; ‘we’ are not English, or any of those other categories. And Wales is unfortunately reinventing the culture of its English oppressor, even while claiming its unique Welshness. To every English thing there must be a Welsh thing - even a Full English (breakfast) is replaced by a Full Welsh!
difference and identity
To establish a cultural identity Wales requires difference. This is not a hybrid or renegotiated
relationship. There are no new meanings and there is nothing new about the new nation. Even as I write I am making a judgement about who I am and it is an impossible, uncertain place to be in. I am standing between what I know and what I do not know, and I cannot rely on the former. I am simultaneously an ethnic minority and not an ethnic minority, Welsh and blatantly not Welsh. When I leave the house I’m black to the world, but to myself, I don’t even come under the mixed category since I scarcely knew my father and have never visited the Caribbean. There is no game to be won here and it is impossible to do anything about it. yet there is everything to do. And I guess it is the same for those in power, caught always between doing something about it and not doing anything at all. A new society requires change and not merely a change in policy. We have to change our minds, which is the difficult part. Same and different have to sit comfortably side by side. White folks so often think they are dealing with difference as though it is some entity outside of themselves, not understanding that they too have to be different. *For more information about Isabel Adonis’ work or to order a copy of her book visit: bethesdamoonmaking.blogspot.com
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A view from... POLAND
rafal pankowski looks back at an extraordinarily turbulent year in Polish politics. What might the unexpected loss of a number of the country’s political elite mean for race relations?
olish President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, almost 100 members of the Polish political elite and other figures died in a plane crash in Smolensk, Russia, on 10 April 2010. The group included leaders of the Polish left, such as Izabela Jaruga-Nowacka MP, a former minister of equality and a good friend of the anti-racist NEVER AGAIN Association. President Lech Kaczynski was a controversial figure. He alienated many liberal-minded voters with his hardline policies and rhetoric during his term in office. His rightwing populist party Law and Justice (Prawo i Sprawiedliwosc, PiS) scored an international success by allying itself to the UK Conservatives in the European Parliament, but domestically it was on the way to political oblivion. It had been reduced to just 20 per cent support in the polls and it was bound to lose the forthcoming presidential election, scheduled for October this year. The plane crash shook up the political landscape. Wild conspiracy theories about the accident have been championed by the far right, including the notoriously anti-Semitic Radio Maryja, which is closely connected with the PiS. There were fears of a renewed social polarisation and a revived rightwing populist campaign in the run up to the early presidential election in June 2010, with Lech Kaczynski’s twin brother Jaroslaw eventually losing out
views, such as Artur Gorski who lamented the election of Barack Obama as ‘the end of white man’s civilisation’. Populist anti-minority mobilisations are employed in Polish politics even despite the numerical weakness of today’s minority communities. As a result of the Holocaust and other wartime atrocities, as well as postwar resettlements and emigration waves, once multicultural Poland is now largely homogenous, with only around 3 per cent of society made up of ethnic minority groups. The new migrant communities have grown slowly but steadily since the early 1990s. They are often confronted with prejudice and discrimination. The hegemonic ideal includes the belief that ‘all Poles are Catholic’ and the underlying assumption that members of ethno-religious minorities cannot be ‘truly Polish’. Anti-minority discourse was a typical feature of the PiS-led government between 2005 and 2007. In the words of Peter Vermeersch, writing in 2007: “The disjuncture between the growing EU concern about the promotion of the acceptance of ethnic diversity, equal opportunities, antidiscrimination and social inclusion, and the way in which minority rights are protected in Poland points to the current limits of European involvement in domestic policymaking and domestic social relations in the new member states.”
A Nigerian-born man was shot dead by the Polish police, evidence points to a case of brutality amplified by racial prejudice
for a place in the top job. He had positioned himself as a standard bearer for the hard right. His party includes politicians with racist At the same time, whole ethnic groups have suffered from structural marginalisation, due to their geographical concentration, a lack
of educational opportunities and a disastrous situation in the job market in some regions. This is coupled with prejudices persisting in institutions and in the wider society, in particular the Roma in the south of Poland and the Belorussians in the north-east. Michael Fleming argues that: “the marginalisation of minority communities continues to be the case despite the advent of the new minority rights regime, the entry of Poland into the European Union and the passing of a law on national and ethnic minorities.” Thus, the legal institutional safeguards on minority rights ring hollow in confrontation with socio-economic problems and the substance of real life. The Brown Book, published by the NEVER AGAIN Association chairman Marcin Kornak in 2009, documents hundreds of hate crimes committed in recent years against various minority groups. In a very recent case, a Nigerian-born man was shot dead in broad daylight by the Polish police near the newly built National Stadium in Warsaw on 23 May 2010. Evidence points to a groundless case of police brutality amplified by racial prejudice. More than 30 black people were arrested as a result of the scuffle at the scene of the shooting. Many are demanding an independent inquiry into the case; it remains to be seen if they are heard. Most of the high profile black figures in Polish society are football players. They, too, are frequently subject to racist attitudes. The East Europe Monitoring Centre was set up by the NEVER AGAIN Association in 2009 to document racist incidents in the run up to the European Football Championship, which is to take place in Poland and Ukraine in 2012. The centre is supported by UEFA and the Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) network. Racism and xenophobia were not invented in the football stadium, but we have to start somewhere - and football can be a good tool to change hearts and minds. *Rafal Pankowski is coordinator of the Warsaw-based East Europe Monitoring Centre, and a lecturer at Collegum Civitas. He recently wrote ‘The Populist Radical Right in Poland: The Patriots’ (Routledge, 2010)
SUMMER 2010 / ISSUE 362 | runnymede Bulletin | 25
KEY FACTS ABOUT... rAce And representAtion
diane Abbott became the first black woman in the house of commons in 1987. now, more than 20 years later, she is the first black person to run for labour leadership
of londo councillors n’s be to a non-w long hit ethnic gro e up
Among ethnic minority groups, indians are most likely to regularly use the internet and read newspapers and magazines; Black Africans are the least likely to do so
Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Sector Organisations (CEMVO)
Architect david Adjaye
4 5 6
in london, where more than 30% of the population is from an ethnic minority, only 18% of local councillors belong to a non-white ethnic group
Architect David Adjaye is among just 2% of those working in the profession who are black
After the general election in may 2010 the number of minority ethnic mps almost doubled from 14 to 27
operation Black vote (oBv) has existed since 1996 to urge black and ethnic minority people to vote and claim a place in British democracy
Operation Black Vote (OBV)
when he was first elected in 1999, claude moraes was london’s first ethnic minority member of the european parliament (mep) and one of the first Asian meps in the parliament overall
scotland yard’s leadership is all white for the first time in ten years, after deputy assistant commissioner shabir hussain left in february 2010. he unsuccessfully sued the force for racial discrimination
only 2% of professional architects are from black minority backgrounds. Best known among them is david Adjaye, who has worked to promote his profession to ethnic minority young people
PSE Socialist Group in the European Parliament
Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust
french-ivorian tidjane thiam is the first and only black chief executive in Britain’s ftse 100, appointed to run prudential plc in march 2009
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Photo: Wexner Center
since 2008, 45% of all black and minority ethnic (Bme) third sector organisations in the uk have had their funding cut by local authorities and other funders
how can political representation among black and minority ethnic groups be increased and why is it important to do so?
Lambeth Councillor labour party
Lewisham Councillor liberal democrats
lurline champagnie oBe
Harrow Councillor conservative party
Norwich City Councillor green party
Democratic institutions that are representative are fundamental in 21st century Britain. This means more than a few black and minority ethnic (BME) faces in key areas. It is argued that lack of representation is a key barrier to participation in politics. Parties must therefore review their selection processes and use the networks that already exist through their BME members. We must address the issues that affect these communities to understand why they feel alienated in the political process. We must recognise that these groups have an interest in the full range of local and national issues. As a six-year old girl, little did I know that the first black MPs were elected in 1987.Twentythree years later representation still falls short of reflecting the total BME population. Positive action needs to be taken to ensure that we are not in the same position in 2033.
Before criticising political parties, black people need to know who the candidates are in an election, and vote for the ones they expect to have an understanding of their issues. This election has shown that black voters decided on purely national issues, not paying attention to whom they were actually voting for. The argument that political parties should install a black person in a safe seat to increase numbers is a foolish one. We, have a duty to ourselves to join parties in our droves and stand for election as councillors or MPs before passing the buck. Representation will not increase until we make active movements. In the past our voice has been ignored, allowing a large part of society to become disillusioned and rebellious to authority. It is now a necessity that our voice is heard, and acted upon.
To be a truly democratic society, all our communities must be well-represented at all levels, including the socio-political and economic spectrum. Statistics and experiences show that there are vast discrepancies in race representation in the civic and democratic processes, and at the social, economic and political decision-making levels. Diversity enriches decisionmaking processes by enabling policymakers to take action based on the lives of all men and women, including those from ethnic backgrounds. Our democracy is stronger when fully representative. We must develop better evidence-based experiences of minority groups. We must take action to meaningfully include them in all aspects of work and life. Finally we must facilitate access to information and education without discriminatory barriers embedded in our democracy.
The painfully slow rise in representation of black and minority ethnic (BME) people in government and public bodies is an embarrassing indictment of our democracy. Exclusion of whole groups of society from political life creates distrust and discrimination. While inclusion means that new perspectives can be brought to the issues we face. I have always supported proportional representation if accompanied by changes to how political parties select their candidates, to avoid party lists being stacked with “pale, male, and stale” candidates. Models for opening up selection processes include BME shortlists and open primaries. The wider challenge is grass roots change, starting with participation and leadership in political parties. We could raise the profile of our BME candidates, showing our commitment to inclusion.
SUMMER 2010 / ISSUE 362 | runnymede Bulletin | 27
HOPE NOT HATE
Nick Lowles is the editor of the anti-fascist Searchlight Magazine. He has campaigned against the far right for all his working life. Most recently he successfully headed the Hope not Hate campaign, which mobilised hundreds of campaigners to the British National Party’s primary target of Barking and Dagenham during the 2010 UK general election. The campaign was a resounding success, and has been widely credited with helping to ensure that the BNP lost all 12 of the council seats it formerly held in the area. BNP leader Nick Griffin was also beaten into third place in his bid to become the local MP.
how and why did the hope not hate campaign come about?
hope not hate was set up in 2005 to respond to the increase in members of the British national party (Bnp). we had previously linked up with (social development trust) the Joseph rowntree foundation on some research into the Bnp vote, which found that women were much less likely to vote for them than men. this has helped shape our campaign over the last few years. we found that many women did not like the aggressiveness and macho-ism of the Bnp, or the trouble this brings to communities. At the same time, however, these same female voters were put off by traditional forms of antiracism and anti-facism campaigns, which were also quite macho though from a very different perspective, such as ‘smash the Bnp!’ and the like. so we began to dilute the aggressiveness of our message. we also found that people wanted something positive to support, rather than just being ‘anti’ something, and that is where hope not hate came from. hope not hate is a fantastic vehicle that enables us to rally people around, allowing us to obviously differentiate ourselves from the Bnp and hate. our methods are always developing and we are always learning new things, some of which work, while others don’t. we have tried to tap into a mood, particularly over the last couple of years, connected to the growing disillusionment with mainstream parties, not only in terms of voters in communities where the Bnp are strong, but also in terms of civic society. some have interpreted this apathy as an indication that people are not interested in politics, but instead we think that what mainstream political parties do doesn’t attract, excite or enthuse people. so with hope not hate we have rallied people around a very simple moral cause, and that is what has been successful in the 2010 general elections. in Barking and dagenham alone we estimate that there were more than 1,000 people out campaigning for us, who we found via our online campaigns over three weeks. this is a level of involvement that political parties cannot create. we have found that this year, as compared to last, we have a bigger percentage of people completely new to politics helping our campaign. there was a feelgood factor. for one of our activities we had 540 people out posting 92,000 leaflets in one day. Just to see that number of people creates a mood of euphoria. obviously once we heard the results it was fantastic, people could feel that they had really made a difference.
what are your main aims?
our short-term goal was to curb the rise of the Bnp, hopefully pushing them back in the areas in which they were getting elected, which we have accomplished in some areas. At the moment we are the fire brigade, if you like, running around trying to put out the Bnp fire. my own view is that they do well in communities that have lost hope. these communities turn in on themselves and political parties don’t listen to them. this leads to the longer-term goal, which is what we
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are looking at now. we are training people up in their local communities so they can self organise around local issues, along the lines of traditional community organising. hopefully they can also achieve local goals, which will prove to people that they don’t need to go down the Bnp route. not everyone who votes for the Bnp is a hardcore racist. obviously race is the issue that the Bnp mobilise people around, using this as an easy explanation for why their supporters haven’t got something themselves. At the end of the day, though, it is normally that people are disillusioned and the Bnp are giving them simple solutions. we cannot change things around overnight, and there are public policy issues to be addressed, but this community organising is part of our long-term goal to make people feel more positively about their own areas.
what elements contributed to the success of your campaign?
it helped that the labour party worked hard. their party message can also be quite negative, however; banging on about immigration doesn’t enthuse people. the higher voter turnout typical of a general election also helped. we turned the local election into a referendum on: ‘do you want the Bnp running your council?’. we upped the stakes and made it a really clear choice for people.
how did you set about affecting real change?
we used a combination of new media and old organising; it was this fusion that worked for us, each with a different role. for example, the online organising made very little difference in terms of the vote in Barking and dagenham, but what it did do was enable us to speak to our supporters on a regular basis to tell people about the issues. this meant that people could get involved even if they couldn’t physically take part. in the first five months of this year our online campaign raised £86,000 from just under 5,000 people. the average donation was around £16.50, which was fantastic. we did some canvassing, but we didn’t set out to turn Bnp voters around. this would have been very difficult to do, and it would not have been fair to put our supporters in these potentially difficult situations, as this could have caused conflict. instead, we identified groups less likely to vote for the Bnp and we worked on those, going door to door with targeted leaflets. women were one key group, as well as the black and Asian communities, first-time voters and pensioners. At the moment the Bnp vote comes primarily from men between the ages of 30 and 55 living in areas where there is lower educational achievement. high unemployment in an area is a factor, but usually the Bnp voter is in social groups c2 or d, so not actually the poorest people in society. the Bnp vote tends to come more from those who work hard and play by the rules, but who feel that other people don’t. crucially, all six surveys on the Bnp vote i’ve seen show that men vote Bnp more than women at a ratio of 2:1, so the more women we get to the polling booths, the better from our point of view.
A sign that our campaign was effective is that the BNP put out a leaflet attacking us
the campaigning we did around different groups, such as women voters or black and Asian voters, also helped to produce a higher turnout for these different groups - the overall turnout was massive. we employed someone just to do faith work, for example, and on the final sunday of the campaign, we addressed 2,500 people in one church congregation. they were all chanting ‘hope not hate’ and had our material.
what, apart from the local election results in Barking and dagenham, would you say were your biggest successes?
one of the signs that our campaign was effective is that the final leaflet the Bnp put out in their campaign in the borough was a two-page attack on us. this proved that we had shifted them in a certain direction and we certainly saw that as a victory. in an election campaign people don’t shift that much. they don’t go from being racist one minute to not racist the next. But we did get some emails and letters from local women in response to the 12-page booklet we put out to female voters with a covering letter from a local person. there were replies from ordinary local women saying that they were thinking of voting Bnp, but had changed their minds as a result of learning what we had to tell them. i think the key day for me was on 17 April when we had
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a big day of action with 540 people. there were people queuing down 85 stairs and down the road just to get their papers, with 30 to 40 people outside. no one complained. we put on food and there was entertainment, it was just the most amazing day, people just kept coming and virtually all were brand new people to us. it really was unbelievable to see the numbers of people of all different ages. on election day, we even had three teenagers in london on a school daytrip from kent who had bunked off to come and help us! we have 250 people willing to become local organisers in their areas and who can help us set up hope not hate groups up and down the country. we are now trying to build on these networks.
our fear is that the climate is in a worse state than it was in 2001 with the last riots, because we are post-9/11 and communities are more divided. the edl can organise 1,500 people in the north east of england just through the internet. this is a major issue, which i don’t think any of the political parties are dealing with. we have got to use this as an opportunity to bring communities together. we have to embed ourselves wherever the problems are and make links with community figures.
what are your concerns about the far right for the future?
i have a worry that people will think that the Bnp have been defeated. over the next few years, the cuts that are coming will really hurt some of the Bnp profile voters, such as the semi-skilled, the public sector workers and those in the building trade. i also worry about electoral reform because the reality is that the Bnp have a much better chance of getting elected under proportional representation, as we have seen in the european union elections. they have two meps, which has enabled them to employ 40 of their members full time, who will no doubt do party work rather than european work. i think there’s a danger in complacency. i take the view that for any place in which the Bnp got more than 15 per cent of the vote in the local elections this year, you can add another 10 per cent next year when there is no general election. there are places, even in big diverse cities like manchester and leeds, where the Bnp got 30 per cent of the vote this year. Also, the Bnp realised that they were out-organised in Barking and dagenham, which means that they are looking at how we campaigned and how major political parties do it. their work will become more sophisticated as a result.
The BNP is now looking at how we organised ourselves, and so their work will become more sophisticated
what difference would greater representation of black and minority ethnic (Bme) people in parliament make?
if the quality (of the Bme representative in public life) is high, and the person is seen to deliver, this can make a positive difference. it is a great way to peel away some of the Bnp voters, or others around them. i think having more Bme representatives in politics is good in the sense that it helps to break down myths and stereotypes, helping to show that we are all in this together. however, there is a group (of white people) in our society whose members feel that they have lost their identity and, where possible, these people must be taken along on the journey too.
what role does the media play in perpetuating negative opinions of certain groups?
Authorities need to be far more vigilant about what comes out of certain papers. some of the stuff the Daily Star and the Daily Express print is far worse than you would see in a Bnp pamphlet. while the Bnp are conscious that they must stay within the law, elements of the press are more free with what they say. it would be important to have more people of different backgrounds writing, to help do away with outrageous things that get written about certain ethnic groups. But the law should come down on those in the press that perpetuate these views, because it is not surprising that people vote Bnp or are distrustful of some ethnic groups when they are fed a daily diet of hatred.
how will the operating under the liberalconservative coalition affect your work?
it is not yet clear what the government’s position will be on community cohesion. one of the things we are focusing on a lot more now is the english defence league (edl) issue. government cannot just keep sitting on its hands, pretending nothing is happening. unfortunately the last government took a very narrow public order position, using the police to control protest, but protecting the far right under freedom of speech laws.
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A reader on race
John solomos explains why he and co-editor Les Back saw the need for a second edition to their widely read text, and where it goes further than the first
of disciplines and sub-fields. yet even in the short period since the first edition was published we have seen important developments in both how scholars study race and racism and in wider public and policy debates about this question. These transformations have centred on a wide range of issues and events, including new patterns of migration, the rise of extreme right-wing racist and ethno-nationalist movements, debates about cultural and religious diversity and multiculturalism and, more broadly, the emergence of new forms of racist and racial discourses. Wider geopolitical events such as 9/11 and the ‘war on terror’ have also played a role in shaping debates about race and racism. More generally, scholars from a range of disciplines and empirical perspectives have raised important questions about what it is that we study when we research race and racism. racialised identities and politics. Perhaps the most important additions we have made can be found in part five on ‘feminism, difference and identity’ and in part six on ‘changing boundaries and spaces’. In part six, the work of Kimberley Springer and Sarita Srivastava has been added to give voice to current preoccupations in black feminist discourses and in debates about race and racism within feminist movements.
Not surprisingly it is in the forward-looking, concluding part that some of the major additions to the reader can be found, with new extracts from the work of David Roediger, Jennifer Hochschild, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and Howard Winant. The new extracts address issues such as whiteness, emerging ethnic and racial identities and future trends in racialised politics and mobilisations. All of these are
he study of race and racism has been transformed in a radical fashion over the past three decades. From a relatively minor sub-field of sociology and other disciplines, we now have a proliferation of courses at all levels of university study, a massive expansion of scholarly publications and of research. In this rapidly evolving environment it becomes easy to lose sight of what is established theory and what is new, of what key issues we should be exploring and what research and policy agendas we should be addressing. The proliferation of theoretical paradigms and perspectives over the past three decades has accentuated this problem even further. It is partly in response to this challenge that Les Back and myself set out in the late 1990s to produce the first edition of Theories of Race and Racism: A Reader, seeing it as an overview of a field of research that was very much work in progress. It is with this objective in mind that we intentionally set out to include in the reader both classic texts by foundational scholars as well as examples of the work of new scholars.
The new extracts address whiteness, emerging racial identities and future trends
It is in this context that we decided there was a need to produce a second edition of Theories of Race and Racism, which was published in 2009. The second edition includes revised editorial overviews from Les Back and myself that situate the shifting boundaries of scholarship on race and racism contemporary theoretical trends. We have kept the original structure of organising the readings in six broad thematic parts, and have added new readings within those confines. In part one, on ‘origins and transformations’, we have added new readings by Robert Bernasconi, Albert Memmi and Pierre-André Taguieff that provide somewhat different perspectives on the history of ideas about race. In part two, on ‘sociology, race and social theory’, we have included the work of Runnymede trustee Claire Alexander on the construction of areas on which there is intense debate and research activity in the current environment. A good case in point is the extract from David Roediger’s work on whiteness, which provides an indication of the impact of research on whiteness in the past decade. It is perhaps inevitable that even extensive volumes such as this reader do not cover all the themes and issues that are being debated in the contemporary environment. But the 42 extracts included, alongside the extensive introductory material, provide a basis for students to explore the key issues in race and racism studies from a range of conceptual perspectives. Certainly my own experience in using the reader as a teaching resource for a wide range of students has highlighted the need for texts that cover both historical and contemporary issues, and challenge students to look at a range of perspectives and theoretical frames.
the first edition
The first edition was published in 2000 and became a widely used course text on both sides of the Atlantic, and in a wide range
SUMMER 2010 / ISSUE 362 | runnymede Bulletin | 31
Books & films
Shaping our own identities
eMbodying identities PROVIDES AN overview of how academic interpretations of identity have changed over time, describing the varying ways in which identity has been understood. The idea of identity is a politically charged one and debates around multiculturalism in particular have been criticised as factional and divisive. What some see as ‘identity politics’ has been in danger of putting people into rigid boxes and pitting them against one another. Author Victor J Seidler, whose on background is British Jewish, discusses how race, ethnicity and migration histories impact on people’s identities. The prevailing postmodern understanding of identity emphasises that individuals have control over how to actively construct and shape their identity. Seidler helpfully contrasts this with feudal societies, in which people’s identities are fixed within a rigid social hierarchy. The shifts to capitalism and Protestantism in Europe started to unlock people from their societal positions and enabled them to compete for individual success, using individual abilities and talents. In this way people were able to separate themselves from collective identities. This is the most salient point in terms of ethnicity and race – that people can resist collective and inherited identities, such as racial categories, cultural traditions and migration histories. Every day we hear something about how we live in a globalised world and this has profound implications for how people choose to identify themselves. embodying identities devotes a lot of space to how the mass migrations of the last fifty years in particular have disrupted simple ideas that equate identity with nationality. Seidler discusses the idea that many second generation migrants in Britain feel and choose different loyalties or associations than their parents He says: “They might feel as if they can be ‘British Muslims’ in a way they do not feel, as their parents might, like ‘British Pakistanis’, instead feeling that their home is in London, Birmingham, Leeds or Leicester for example.” While this is well-covered ground, what makes the book more valuable is the way in which it explores identity and ethnicity in terms of will and resistance. Seidler expands this idea, pointing out that history and culture are often seen as ‘unfreedoms’. It is only through separating and disowning ethnic and racial histories and traditions that people can be ‘free and equal’ individuals in their own right. This resonates with the school of thought that ethnic or racial identities are artificial categories that hold people back and should somehow be made to disappear. He highlights Sir Macpherson’s initial desire to avoid explicitly mentioning race in his report into institutional police racism as an intriguing example of the liberal desire to wish away the realities of ethnic and racial identities. One of the given ways in which we resist collective identities and help ourselves to belong to a wider culture is through the act of forgetting. Seidler explains that people may choose to separate themselves from the ethnicity or culture (in this case Jewish) of their migrant grandparents: “They perhaps do not want to be reminded that their grandparents were immigrants who had suffered from discrimination and antiSemitism as they worked long hours in the sweatshops of Whitechapel and Stepney in east London. Second and third generations often want to forget the harsh realities of immigrant working-class life, as they make their transitions from the run-down city to the suburbs, to pass on nostalgic memories of a past that has been severed from the lived experiences of their children.” This is an evocative example of how people who have migrated from abroad often want to conceal their memories of loss, pain and shame in order to help their children belong. Race is important in that it is easier to disavow ‘Jewishness’ and so pass within wider society than for a black Caribbean or Bangladeshi person who cannot conceal their colour. embodying identities emphasises that identity is neither inherent and fixed nor completely constructed through the categories of race, ethnicity or religion (or gender or sexuality). Instead, through a process of ‘identity work’, we choose to resist and select from our inherited culture, nationality and history. It could be argued that Seidler overstates how people “no longer inherit identities from their parents” and that such postmodern ways of understanding identity do not reflect the reality of people’s lives. Indeed, the book can sometimes be slightly vague, but it nevertheless helps us to think about identity less in terms of categories and more in terms of real life and history.
culture, differences and social theory
by Victor J Seidler, The Policy Press 2010 Book review by Phil Mawhinney
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How to reject unjust norms
injustice: why social inequality persists
by Daniel Dorling, The Policy Press 2010 Book review by Kjartan Páll Sveinsson
Books & films
FOR DECADES THOSE OF US ENGAGED in an intellectual fight for social justice have been losing out. In political and public discourse, models of neo-liberal ideology have been a dominating force in deciding what is important in the contemporary world, and what constitutes a good society. Recently, however, a number of influential books have appeared that pose serious challenges to the hegemony of capitalist logic. The latest is Daniel Dorling’s injustice: Why social inequality Persists. Dorling manages to convey a different way of seeing the world - an angle from which to scrutinise our values and evaluate the society we live in. The main strength of the book is that it refuses to engage with neoliberalism on its own terms. Indeed, it
is the unquestioned acceptance of capitalist logic that Dorling attacks. With his simple and direct style, Dorling is able to expose the anomaly of ideas that have come to be accepted as natural and inevitable. He dissects with great clarity the different ways in which inequality is justified and maintained, boiling down to five principles of injustice: ‘elitism is efficient’; ‘exclusion is necessary’; ‘prejudice is natural’; ‘greed is good’; and ‘despair is inevitable’. These five faces of social inequality, Dorling maintains, have become accepted as an inevitable part of capitalist democracy. By uncovering the vain and reprobate nature of this mantra, Dorling assumes the role of the boy who said ‘the emperor is naked’. Dorling provides those fighting for equality with both a grand narrative with which to argue that inequality is an unnecessary social evil, and interesting facts and examples to back it up. The book provides a powerful argument for why, during these extraordinary economic times, we must not put equality on the backburner. Dorling is optimistic about
the future. He reminds us that the current era of growing inequalities “is something that cannot go on forever, so it won’t.”. It will require a concerted effort from all of us to resist the rhetoric of inequality and injustice: “Everything it takes to defeat injustice lies in the mind.” Injustice provides us with a blueprint for a different way of thinking.
Death by tikka masala
it’s A wonderful Afterlife
Directed by Gurinder Chadha Film review by Farrah Sheikh
NAAN BREAD, KEBABS AND CURRy not commonplace murder weapons. But it is her culinary talent that Mrs Sethi, played by Bollywood leading lady Shabana Azmi, relies on to exact revenge on all those refusing an alliance with her slightly plump daughter. A movie that expresses none of Gurinder Chadha’s earlier bend it like beckham brilliance fails at every step to raise a laugh. Set in the Indian community in Southall, we see the typical stereotypes for an Asian marriage play out predictably. An Indian mother frets about her daughter finding a suitable groom before she dies and the daughter suffers rejection for being too fat, too dark or too ugly. Fashioned as a spoof, the filmmakers clearly wanted to laugh at themselves - the British Asian community still
clinging to hopelessly dated traditions when it comes to girls and marriage. The ‘curry killer’ mother’s desperation for her daughter to find a Punjabi mate apparently driven by her imminent death - she hopes to die in peace and meet her late husband in heaven. The ridiculous plot thickens as we learn that Mrs Sethi’s victims cannot achieve reincarnation until their murderer is dead, leading to their decision to help Mrs Sethi in her quest to find her daughter a mate. Even with this comic plot device, however, humour is noticeably lacking. Despite its claim to be a dark comedy, the film’s jokes are few and far between when not related to Indian food. And with her dark, shadowed eyes and constant tears, it is difficult to see how Mrs Sethi was ever going to be a comical character. As for the others, we don’t get close enough to any to really warm to them. Stereotypical to its core, Chadha says nothing new or interesting about Asian communities in this film. While clearly not its intention, you can’t help feeling that it’s
a shame the movie doesn’t address any of the issues bubbling beneath the surface of the story. Why can’t Mrs Sethi’s daughter - young, sweet-natured and successful - be anything if not a wife?
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Stereotypes and suicide bombers
TO BORROW THE SUCCINCT SyNOPSIS sold to me by my husband, Four Lions is ‘a comedy about four stupid suicide bombers from the writers of Brass Eye’. On first impressions, I was not at all happy with the few female characters there were in the film. Sofia (Preya Kalidas), the wife of main character Omar, was frustratingly onedimensional. For a film that has some great writing and touches of realism to it, telling Omar (Riz Ahmed): ‘you were much more fun when you were going to blow yourself up’ without emotion was not funny or plausible. The violence in the film shocked me – I found myself gasping and had both my hands over my mouth at one point. But I wasn’t given time to reflect on this, as the comedy kept coming and I found myself laughing, albeit guiltily. On reflection perhaps that was the point that was being made. Real violence and death showed an intelligent understanding of Muslim culture, so I was not surprised to later read that writers Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain had spent years researching before writing the script. The film does play to stereotypes, in the form of main character Omar’s pious brotherin-law. Though I did feel that this character’s presence served a purpose in representing a part of Muslim communities that many Muslims cannot engage with. Balanced against the new insight into Muslim variety, I am conflicted as to how this film may potentially help or hinder public perception of Muslims. Showing these non-stereotypical characters behaving as extremists could represent a danger of criminalising the whole community – because it’s not just the ‘weirdy beardy’ types that pose a risk. The film really brought home the danger
Books & films
Directed by Christopher Morris, 2010 Film review by Elvira Doghem-Rashid
The film gave certain insights into Muslim experiences, though not enough of them female
are portrayed so frequently and glibly within our society that their consequences are not felt by those not experiencing it for themselves. This came across very well in the film, with the characters referencing video game violence and ‘play fighting’ together. I felt that the characters would most likely not have got into their situation if they had a true idea of the consequences. It was evident by the end of the film that, at some point on their path to destruction, disaster for the main characters could have been averted. While the film is very thought-provoking in terms of terrorism, I felt the main strength was its portrayal of Muslims. It presented facets of Muslim life that never normally get a mainstream airing. I must admit I was uneasy about seeing a film portraying Muslims written by a non-Muslim, particularly given the topic. In fact, as a Muslim, I was fully expecting to be offended. But instead I was roaring with laughter throughout most of the film, as was everyone else in the cinema. Aside from presenting a non-stereotypical image of Muslims, I feel that the film really of home-grown terrorists, making this issue more real for me, rather than dispelling my concerns. I actually felt quite nervous leaving the cinema, worrying about the serious reality behind the humourous depiction For me the film offered something, but not enough. It gave certain insights into different Muslim experiences, though not enough of them female. The main character knew something about Islam, but not enough to realise there is no justification for what he had planned. There was some hint at the motivations of the wannabe suicide bombers, but by no means enough. I wanted to know more about what set the characters on their fateful paths, to inform what we, as a society, are really up against. For its failings, though, I would still strongly recommend that everyone watches Four Lions. I am still thinking about the film some weeks later. Love it or hate it, it is certainly thought-provoking, and is brave enough to broach a particularly controversial topic. Maybe it does not deliver quite enough, but maybe something is better than nothing.
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Runnymede director rob Berkeley considers the impact of cuts on the pursuit of race equality
Spending cuts, but at what cost?
y mind is buzzing with ideas and fresh perspectives on the challenges of racial injustice, having recently returned from the excellent CRONEM/Runnymede conference, Living Together. The research, theoretical discussions, and policy debates at the event were of a very high standard. We really appreciated the luxury of taking time away from our desks to reflect and learn from academic researchers working at the leading-edge. A series of conference papers will be shared as podcasts on the Runnymede website over the coming months. One stand-out moment was the presentation given by American public intellectual, Benjamin Barber. He challenged the delegates to reframe the issues of racial justice and race relations in terms of the re-democratisation of our societies. For those seeking to ensure that race equality remains at the forefront of the political agenda during this period of rapid political and public service reform, there may be some wisdom in the renewed focus. The coalition government has announced its plans to seek democratic reforms, but
We must see that our political leaders are subject to appropriate levels of scrutiny, so that all voices are heard
insistence that public spending must be cut, and cut now. The coalition hypothesises that the impact of the proposed cuts will be mitigated by the citizen and civil society taking greater responsibility and action the much-vaunted ‘Big Society’. Not many people are against civil society and citizens playing a greater role, but there are still many questions about what shape these new responsibilities will take (running schools and colleges or co-payment for certain health services?) and importantly, who will pay for them. Meanwhile there is greater certainty about the scale and shape of future spending cuts. The financial ‘logic’ puts the Big Society at risk of being merely a reaction to the cuts rather than a reframing of the relationship between citizen and state that may have been the government’s intention; the tail wagging dictate rather than from the collective will of the citizens. The back-to-front nature of the reforms (finance rather than purpose) poses some dangers for racial justice and other values that we would hold central to success as a society. It may well be cheaper to stop monitoring the actions of our police services to ensure that all citizens are treated fairly. It may be more financially efficient to remove the rights of parents to appeal an exclusion from school. It may be expedient in the short term to abandon positive action initiatives to increase diversity in certain parts of industry. But in saving some money now, what problems do we create in the medium term? Greater disenfranchisement, exclusion, loss of creativity, social strife when considered in this light, is the cost of cuts too high to bear? yet none of these outcomes are inevitable if, following Barber, we can ensure that all in our society are democratically engaged. We must see that our political leaders are subject to appropriate levels of scrutiny, so that all voices are heard in decisionmaking about cuts in public spending and the marginalised, in particular, are enabled to engage with and shape public services. Big Society requires Big Democracy. * For more on public service reform, equality and cohesion visit 2020publicservicestrust.org
What shape will our new civic responsibilites take in this Big Society and, importantly, who will pay for them?
these constitutional innovations have been overshadowed by the government’s the dog. If we are not careful, the drive for reforming the role of the state will derive purely from what the financial markets
SUMMER 2010 / ISSUE 362 | runnymede Bulletin | 35
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