October 04, 2007

Britain given stark warning on race relations

Britain, proud of its cultural, ethnic and religious diversity, remains a country deeply divided along racial lines where communities lead "parallel lives" and inequality, exclusion and isolation is suffered by many, a recent major report by the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) said.

The CRE, founded under the Race Relations Act of 1976, has worked tirelessly for the goal of an "integrated Britain." Last month, it summed up the fruits of its labour in its final report on race relations, entitled: A lot done, a lot to do. From October this year, the CRE will move away from its single- issue focus of race discrimination to become part of the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights.

Its "final legacy document" on race relations makes uncomfortable reading for government departments and other institutions accused by the CRE of failing to meet their obligations on tackling discrimination. The report, while stressing that some public bodies, including the criminal justice agencies, had made "huge strides" in the area of race relations, said that a number of government departments, such as health, education, home and foreign affairs, had failed to root out discrimination.

Ethnic segregation, residentially, socially and at the workplace, remained in Britain, said the report. "Extremism, both political and religious, is on the rise as people become disillusioned and disconnected from each other," it said. Thanks to race relations legislation, it was no longer possible, and "morally inconceivable," to practise open discrimination in Britain, such as putting up signs barring blacks from boarding houses, said the CRE. "But let's not kid ourselves. Britain, despite its status as the fifth-largest economy in the world, is still a place of inequality, exclusion and isolation."

"The simple fact is despite the progress that has been made, if you are an ethnic minority Briton, you are still more likely to be stopped by police, be excluded from school, suffer poorer health treatment and live in poor housing.According to figures released by the CRE, employment is the leading issue among ethnic minority communities. "Racism is still rife in the workplace," said the CRE. From a total of 5,000 complaints received over the last six month, 43 per cent were linked to employment.

"After 30 years of race relations and legislation protecting ethnic minorities at work, the CRE is appalled that racism is still widespread in workplaces across Britain."The most common complaints cited were workplace bullying, lack of career progression and being unable to secure interviews, as the number of race discrimination cases submitted to employment tribunals rose by a quarter last year.

National unemployment figures show that the unemployment rate for ethnic minorities stands at over 11 per cent - twice the national average. They also showed that a black person is three times more likely to be out of work than a white person. In addition, there were signs that society was "fracturing," warned the CRE report. "The pace of change in Britain over the last few years has unsettled many, and caused people to retreat into and reinforce narrower ethnic and religious ties.

"Tensions often arose from the "fear of difference," leading to diversity becoming a source of division rather than strength," the CRE said. "We live in a society where people may live side by side, occupy the same spaces and schools and shop in the same high streets, but too often they lead parallel lives that never meet," it said. The report's conclusions follow a stark warning by former CRE chairman Trevor Phillips last year, in which he said that Britain was "sleepwalking into segregation.

"The government, while stressing that it did not accept all of the CRE's findings, promised "positive and robust action" to address the concerns identified."The national picture on cohesion is a positive one. There is more that binds us together than divides us," said a spokesman for the Department of Communities and Local Government.

From: http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/118529.html

1 comment:

Stuart said...

Reading the Times from overseas, I am really saddened by the increasing use of racism in political posturing, the increasing popularity of supposedly "challenging" racist humour and the ease with which public officials (e.g. senior police officers) make unsupported racial remarks. It seems to be acceptable to say that "they" are over here driving dangerously, committing street crime, taking our jobs, our houses, our wives & daughters and in increasing numbers. The Times in particular appears to have a sordid islamophobic streak, failing to report moderate muslim leaders while cherry-picking the most obscene stories (and some are just stories) involving a muslim.

Perhaps the BBC will revive the black & white minstrels because our postmodern, multicultural society is now mature enough to view it as a challenge to stereotypes.