|Trevor Phillips, CRE chairman.
The 1990 Trust and Operation Black Vote give their verdict on whether the Commission for Racial Equality chairman is the best figure to lead the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR)…
…This might seem like a question about personalities. It is not. Actually it’s a question of policies, and of whether the new chair will have the confidence of Black communities.
Today marks the last days of interviews for potential CEHR chairmanship candidates.
At stake for the hopefuls is the prestige of running Europe’s biggest equalities outfit – a £70m monolith which lumps together race, gender, sexual orientation, age, disabilities, religion and human rights.
Whoever leads it will undoubtedly be a political big hitter. But ironically what is most needed is not politician or spin-master.
Being able to play the media is a secondary consideration. In fact chasing headlines could be the last thing the CEHR chair should do.
|Credibility comes not from name-recognition, but from a policy approach which chimes with communities.
The priority must be to command credibility from the various equalities lobbies and from the public at large.
This comes not from name-recognition, but from a policy approach which chimes with communities.
The people who most need protection from discrimination do not want the CEHR chair to be following a –maverick agenda or to religiously tow the government line, but a good team player who can bring communities from all strands along with them.
Another important quality for the position is someone who develops the different strands of equalities rather than adopt a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
Someone who respects and listens to the grassroots equalities lobbies – the people involved in challenging inequality on the ground, the organisations with grassroots networks.
|The statement ‘multiculturalism is dead’ was an opportunity for some to attack the ‘race relations industry’ and all who fight for Black people’s rights.
And someone who commands respect from ordinary citizens. For the Black community, this question cannot be divorced from the fact that the CEHR’s creation, and the CRE’s abolition, has dismayed many Black people.
Fears about a hierarchy of equalities developing have not been assuaged.
Public consultations have shown Black communities to be even more opposed to the concept of a single equalities body than others.
The reasons are simple – we have fought blood, sweat and tears to win the present safeguards against racism: the CRE and four race relations acts.
We do not want the gains of the last 30 years to be washed away by a colour-blind approach to equalities.
|The right-wing press loved the resurrection of the word ‘coloured’, with the implication that those who object have a 'chip on their shoulder'.
The consequences of institutional and personal racism abound in every sphere of life: Black unemployment double that for white people, and hugely disproportionate outcomes in education; criminal justice; mental and other health areas to name but a few.
Our experience has been that whenever race has been merged with other equalities subjects – especially when local authorities axed race committees and units in the 90s – race has fallen down the agenda and often come to rest at the bottom.
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