Let’s talk about race

Let’s talk about race

“Our wounds will only heal if we tend them” brap research team

Racism has been high on the public agenda during this inquiry. Whether it’s hate crime on our streets,the treatment of the Windrush generation or Islamophobia in the media, there are increasing concerns that we are becoming a more racist society.

But mostly we heard little about race in our many conversations and workshops across civil society, and so commissioned a specific piece of research to surface issues and find solutions. Asif Afridi (an inquiry panel member) and equality organisation brap spoke to black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) voluntary sector organisations, large organisations within civil society, as well as those with lived experience of racism and race inequality.

It brought to light the difficulties much of civil society has in talking about and acting on race, racism and race inequality – and it has set out some solutions to help us all.

Why isn’t civil society talking enough about race and race inequality?

Some parts of civil society are discussing these issues, but it’s too often muted or insufficient.  Research participants cited a number of reasons:

  • a lack of focus within public policy
  • a perceived decline in political work on race with more focus on service delivery within black and minority ethnic civil society groups
  • a belief that we now live in a post-racial society
  • framing of topics in the media like immigration or Islamophobia as distinct and separate from race equality
  • more comfort discussing workforce diversity, less comfort discussing patterns of discrimination and racism affecting wider society
  • lack of confidence to talk about race if you are from a white British background for fear of getting it wrong

Opportunities for progressing race equality

Despite the need for greater investment in race equality work locally and nationally, change needs to come from within civil society. A lot of this comes down to personal skills, taking responsibility, relating and talking to one another differently about this topic. It also requires us to make this a priority and to pursue it with confidence and certainty.

We need a vision for race equality in civil society that includes, but goes beyond, workforce diversity to include concrete outcomes that address structural causes of inequality.