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UK needs a race-specific body

by Claudia Webbe

BRITAIN NEEDS A specific 'race body' that is respected by the community, argues Claudia Webbe.

Claudia Webbe
Claudia Webbe

I am not making a case for segregation after all in March 2006, the government published a report entitled 'State of English Cities Report', which was described as the most comprehensive study ever undertaken of England's cities and towns, the report stated '…the vast majority of cities have become more integrated during the past decade……segregation by ethnicity has fallen between 1991-2001 in 48 out of 56 cities….”.

Thus if we are to believe this report then whilst racism is rife in Britain it certainly is not being expressed through rising levels of neighbourhood segregation, a fact which had already been stated by Professor Danny Dorling and others.

Strategically a specific race enforcement body is required so as to ensure that the statutory public and private bodies do not reduce their priority with regards race equality.

In my view there has already been slow and limited progress with regards adhering to the requirements of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 not least because there have been limited resources, including expertise available to ensure and enforce compliance.


Listening to the current debate on race one cannot help feeling that there is an increasing and unhealthy desire to focus the blame on Black and minority ethnic communities and on tools like multiculturalism.

Anti-multicultural CEHR chief Trevor Phillips

Equally problematic is the promotion of multiculturalism without its key ingredient and main focus on tackling racism and discrimination, after all we are not here to simply celebrate 'Samosas and Steel Bands'.

A lack of focus and specific attention by public and private bodies and failure of any organisation to keep them in check will result in Black and minority ethnic communities' continuing to face deep inequalities with regards poverty, wealth and opportunity and poor treatment at the hands of health establishments, educationalist and the criminal justice system. Racism and racial inequality in the workplace will continue to increase at an exponential rate.


I have headed up two frontline Race Equality Councils both of which were funded and supported by the Commission for Racial Equality; the Chairman at the time was Sir Herman Ouseley. I dealt with some severe cases of racial inequality and discrimination, real horror stories; I represented individuals at Employment Tribunals and County Court and at school appeal hearings and prepared representation for immigration appeals.

I took on the might of Westminster City Council towards the end of its Lady Porter reign and other public bodies resistant to change. Whilst we had many successes, even with my team giving up all of our weekends we couldn't handle the sheer volume of casework.

The demands and needs were high and yet the resources were limited. As they shared their experiences and told their stories, many individuals simply broke down under the pressure of the racism, victimisation and discrimination that they were facing, for them my organisation was their last resort.

These are individuals who worked in some 'well respected' private, public and even voluntary organisations, children who had been unfairly excluded from school, traumatised by bullying and racism in the playground and/or individuals who were refused a service or received poor treatment in a shop or other public place.

For some, they had even begun to believe those that had victimised them, that they had some how precipitated their own discrimination.

Black and minority ethnic communities have achieved a significant amount against all the odds and there is a lot to celebrate and Britain has benefited hugely from their contribution.

After all the British way of life would simply collapse without its Black and minority ethnic communities and new immigrants, yet racism is rampant and rife and all the evidence suggests that not much has changed in over three decades.

Thus it seems to me that more, not less, dedicated resources, energy and time including enforcement power needs to be given to tackling racial inequality and discrimination.

Somebody once told me that there is not enough available work on tackling racism to justify my continued employment – this was at best a lack of understanding, vision and foresight and at worst a desire by that public body to victimise and/or rid itself of anybody that challenges them on race.

Across the public sector when it comes to cutting back on funding in the name of efficiency and effectiveness, it always seems to be race and the services to build racial equality and cohesion that are the first to go.

The work that I and others like me did was important in clarifying and extending the scope of the Race Relations Act, equally important was the much needed and dedicated work to support victims.

My organisations were well connected and ultimately respected, even amongst those whom we publicly and without compromise challenged.

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