We are back with a new edition of our newsletter for March, including training and policy news, an interview with Deniz Ugur, Director at IMECE Women's Centre and a note from our Development Officer.
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The Race Disparity Audit (October 2017) briefly brought well-known issues faced by BAME communities to the spotlight. Most of us, thought the report didn’t offer solutions or explanations to old, persistent and systemic problems and almost momentarily thought of ignoring the report completely!
As it states:
“This analysis helps to understand and assess differences between ethnic groups, and to identify those public services where disparities are diminishing and those where work is needed to develop effective strategies to reduce disparities between ethnic groups.”
With #unity in diversity as our moto, we felt that a community response was needed and that our work should be informed not only by the (grim) facts the report presents but also by the experiences and ideas of community activists. Just reducing disparities shouldn’t be our aim but radical change is needed when it comes to race inequality. The #SpeakOut Christmas Special was on!
In response to the report, in December 2017, we organised an evening of talks, food and art to bring together people from all communities, from Islington and beyond, to talk about ‘race disparities’ and ways to address these on a community level. We also wanted to hear from people what our role should be as a community organisation that is dedicated to equality and diversity.
What did the speakers say?
The “blind spots” of the report were highlighted: the fact that Islamophobia is not mentioned at all, along with the absence of any reflective account of how these ‘disparities’ exist and persist were few of the issues raised from the panel. Without context, the report serves as a factual account of disadvantages experienced by BAME people in the UK but still manages to obscure the reasons or give any solutions on how to tackle these. This way ethnic and racial differences, are almost presented as “natural” which is highly problematic if not dangerous.
Our speakers urged the participants into action. Whether by starting or supporting local campaigns led by marginalised groups (BAME young people, housing tenants associations, migrant and low-paid workers) or by openly talking to friends, family and your community about race issues and discrimination and not being a bystander to racial hatred, the message was clear: we should all be talking about race in conjunction with other factors that marginalise communities.
A community response could look like:
Our response as an equality organisation based on suggestions from the panel and people attending our event will be:
Big thanks to poet and our friend Antony Anaxagorou for offering a moving performance!
Stay tuned for more events in 2018!
Some more reading on the Race Disparity Audit