I’ve spent this past week in London and met with two of the country’s most successful race equality organisations – Race Equality Foundation and Runnymede Trust
Race Equality Foundation was set up by social workers, and as such their focus is on race equality in areas such as housing, health, and more generally in the community.
They also run a successful parenting program that is designed to provide training for parents with the aim of challenging crime and empowering parents to take a proactive role within their communities. This program has grown year on year and the organisation derives income from it, which helps to financially support some of their other activities.
Runnymede Trust on the other hand focuses on research, public events and policy engagement. They are the leading race equality think thank in the UK and their research is very highly regarded.
Around a year ago, Runnymede started a public awareness-raising campaign with End Racism This Generation. The campaign is based on their research and aims to engage the wider population to shift the public debate on racism.
The organisation’s website houses a range of race equality resources which will be useful for Australian antiracists.
Both of these organisations’ successes and challenges highlight the need for creating solutions to empower people to make change. Doing research and policy engagement is not enough. In Australia, one of the reasons for All Together Now’s inception was exactly this point: unless the public are involved in creating the solution (e.g. by speaking up when they witness racism), research and policy change activities will not be as effective or long-lasting.
Another thing that struck me is both organisations have a clear focus on intersectionality issues, and they do this by working with other civil society organisations working on connected human rights issues. For example they work together with LGBT rights organisations, to make a case for positive policy and institutional change for Black and Asian lesbian, gay, bi and transgendered people.
This past week has been an interesting one to be staying in the UK, with the European elections and the rise of the UK Independence Party (UKIP). Clearly there is more work to be done to counter the far right and limit their influence. I’ve noticed the reluctance of people in the media spotlight to discuss racism openly – this is in sharp contrast to my observations in the USA where racism appears to be challenged very directly.
I’ve also noticed anti-Eastern European sentiment in the UK – they are among the latest wave of migrants being accused of taking locals’ jobs and housing, and opinion seems to be divided as to whether or not abuse directed towards Eastern Europeans is racism – because they are white. It’s quite fitting that my next stop on the Churchill tour will be Warsaw, the capital of Poland, where many of these migrants originate. More soon!