|Our Rights, Our Future, Our Commission.
The Government so far failed to listen to what Black communities were saying, including the key demand for a race committee.
In June The 1990 Trust published Our Rights, Our Future, the second of two nationwide consultations with hundreds of BME organisations.
Government plans to merge different equalities subjects together in a Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR)are likely to be met with strong opposition from Britain's BME communities unless changes are made.
Karen Chouhan, chief executive of The 1990 Trust, has written to DTI ministers warning that they must make changes if the new body is to have legitimacy.
|Karen Chouhan: race equality must be recognised in structure of new body.
She said: “The way things stand right now, the government's Equality Bill will make some people more equal than others.
“Ministers are proposing a committees for disabilities, Scotland and Wales, but not race. That just doesn't make sense.
“Experiences has shown that whenever race equality is erased in favour of a colour-blind approach to equalities race always falls down the agenda.
“We must avoid a heirachy of equalities where different equalities lobbies are fighting over an inadequately small pot of money.
“Britain is facing a crisis in race relations with Islamophobic attacks on the rise, and discrimination getting ever worse for many people.
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“We can see this from rates of infant mortality, homelessness and unemployment. We cannot tackle this crisis with a colour-blind approach.”
Tomorrow the Equality Bill moves a step closer to implementation with the start of Report Stage in the House of Lords.
But while the government has accepted an amendment to “promote the favourable treatment of disabled persons” ministers are silent on all other groups.
The 1990 Trust is urging the government to back amendments to the Equality Bill proposed by Lord Herman Ouseley, Baroness Turner of Camden and Lord Victor Adebowale to create a race committee and ensure BME representation on the CEHR board.
With the Commission for Racial Equality and London Mayor Ken Livingstone backing CEHR race committees, it is now time for the government to listen to them and to the clear voice of Britain's BME communities.
The 1990 Trust's key demand is that if the Commission for Racial Equality is to be abolished and merged into the CEHR there has to be a net gain for Black communities. Currently, government plans would take us back decades.
That means CEHR's structure making clear provision to tackle racial inequality and being properly funded. We therefore demand: (1) A Race Committee which is accountable to Black communities, and (2) Annual funding for race equality at no less than the current provision for the dissolving Commission for Racial Equality i.e. approximately £20m per year.
Ministers have previously rejected amendments proposed by Lord Ouseley and Lord Adebowale dealing with race. The new amendments (published on Monday 17th October) give the government another opportunity to think again.