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United we stand

9/2/2006

BLACK COMMUNITIES increased pressure on the government over the new super-equalities body with another display of unity at a race summit earlier this week.

Diane Abbott
Diane Abbott: Black politics always falls to bottom of the pile when merged with other equalities strands.

Representatives from over 60 leading Black organisations were urged to remain firm by sticking to their position that race equality work and Black representation needed to be written in stone as part of the proposed new Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR).

Several speakers at the race summit, held in London’s City Hall on Monday, stressed the importance of not being co-opted into the government’s agenda without key demands being met.
Ministers also face the prospect of defending their plans to abolish the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) in the courts after community leaders united to condemn their proposals.

Lee Jasper, senior equalities advisor to London Mayor Ken Livingstone, told the gathering: ‘We must maintain iron-like discipline. To take the shilling would be selling out Black communities.

bottom line

‘We must not be sucked into a process of meaningless consultation. The government is seeking to get us to sign up to a deal which seeks to make the best of a bad job.

Our Rights Our Future: The CEHR and Black Communities

‘We don’t think a single equalities body is salvageable unless there is statutory representation from Black communities.

'That’s the bottom line. If the government want to talk to us then they know what the price tag is: a statutory race committee, ring-fenced funding and retention of the CRE. I will go to my grave on that ticket.’

Mr Jasper linked the Home Office axing their Stephen Lawrence advisory forum and the Metropolitan Police Authority seeking to rename their Race Hate Crime forum an “equalities hate” forum.

Campaigners called the emergency race summit following ministers rejection of parliamentary amendments seeking to write into law a minimum level of Black commissioners on the CEHR, and a race committee.

legal action

Diane Abbott MP, speaking at the event, warned that the concerns of Black communities would “go down the drain” once race was merged with six other equalities subjects in a new

cap
Attendees at the race summit listen to Karen Chouhan, a trustee of The 1990 Trust and Visionary for the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust

Drawing a parallel with the axing of local council race units, she asked: ‘When you lump all equalities issues together who rises to the top? Who is perceived to have the most understanding? Let me tell you: it’s white people every time.’

A hand-vote of 60 leaders of community organisations from across Britain showed unanimous support for a judicial review of the governments’ decision to axe the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) on grounds that it would contravene race laws.

Race activists queued up to denounce the equalities merger and gave wholehearted support for calls to “litigate, litigate, litigate” in order to defend the right of Black people to be represented by a race-specific body. Julia Smith, an audience member, reflected the mood: “The law is there and we can use it.”

share of the pie

Former foreign office minister Keith Vaz avoided the question of legal action but urged the audience to use the “short window of opportunity” to agree a strategy in the wake of the governments refusal to let the CEHR have a race committee.

Last month Mr Vaz and Ms Abbott fought a battle on the floor of the House of Commons to get a race committee enshrined in the Equalities Bill, arguing that race should be treated equally to disability, which was getting a committee.

Equalities minister Meg Munn refused to compromise, but MPs are believed to have won a “cast-iron” guarantee from trade secretary Alan Johnson over the composition of the commissioners on new body, which begins work next year.

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Resources:

Teeth and their use

Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society: One year On

The Zahid Mubarek Inquiry

pdf Dept. for Communities & Local Government Citizenship Survey

Responses to the Equalities Review Interim Report

The 1990 Trust Response to The Equalities Review Interim Report

Equalities Review Interim Report Briefing – Addressing Race Equality

pdf Our Rights, Our Future

pdf Improving Opportunity, Strengthening Society: The Government's race strategy

CRE response to DTI Statement on Commission for Equality and Human Rights

Equality and Diversity Forum welcomes the progress on a Commission for Equality and Human Rights

Summary of Changes to the CEHR

The 1990 Trust’s response to the CEHR White Paper

pdf Delivering equality and human rights for black and minority ethnic communities

Flush the academic racism in Blunkett’s office down the pan

Jacqui Smith answers questions on the Single Equalities Body

How to Contact your MP

Links:

Race and Faith and Communities

Election Memory

Catalyst Magazine

UNITE TO PROTECT OUR RIGHTS: sign the statement against the erosion of civil liberties and human rights by new anti-terrorism proposals A Black Manifesto No 2 ID FREE FAROUQ PDP ASSOCIATES Power to the People

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