Tackling 'post-referendum' racism
With the upsurge in media coverage of racism linked to ‘Brexit’, people have increasingly been asking CRER about getting involved in tackling racism and hate crime. This was a pleasant surprise for us. We deal with these issues on a day to day basis and have done for almost twenty years, so it’s refreshing to see so many people willing to stand up against racism (although it’s worth mentioning that concerns raised by Black activists about the tone of the current debate do resonate with us).
Whether you’re new to anti-racism or just looking for a different approach, there are dozens of ways to take action now and in the future. However you do it, the important thing is to build anti-racism into your day to day life; not just now, but for the long-run.
Here are our five top suggestions:
1. Build a strong understanding of race and racism, and share this understanding with family, friends and colleagues. This will help increase the number of people who can make strong arguments against racism in all its forms:
Our ‘Changing the Race Equality Paradigm’ guide for organisations highlights some of the key concepts.
Websites like Media Diversified and Runnymede’s Race Matters have a range of articles that look at current affairs issues from a race perspective.
Finding out about Scotland’s Black History can help to challenge assumptions about minority ethnic communities in Scotland. There’s no one comprehensive source of information on this, but some resources are available on this page from Education Scotland. We co-ordinate Glasgow’s annual Black History Month programme of events; sign up to our email list if you’d like to receive more details later this year about the 2016 programme.
2. Directly challenge racism and hate speech whenever it occurs, in a way that’s effective and safe:
This video from The Ill Doctrine explains how to tell someone they sound racist.
This leaflet from United gives advice about how to safely support someone who’s being targeted in a racist attack.
3. Report any racist incidents you see, whether in public spaces or online:
We developed a guide to responding to and reporting online hate speech; it also explores the difference between hate crime and hate speech.
If you witness a racist incident or hate crime in Scotland, you can report it to Police Scotland even if you weren’t the person being targeted.
If you see racist materials (for example posters, stickers or graffiti) in a public place, you can report it to your local Council’s environmental department (in Glasgow, there’s a dedicated Environmental Task Force). Materials intended to stir up racial hatred can also be reported to Police Scotland.
Report any racist incidents at work, College or University under the relevant policies, and support colleagues or fellow students who are complaining about racism.
4. Encourage your local politicians to take action against racism:
Write to MPs, MSPs and local Councillors to ask what they are doing to tackle racism and racial inequalities, and encourage them to speak up on race equality.
Ask your local politicians to support local or national anti-racist campaigns.
If you’re a political party member, encourage your local branch to actively recruit more minority ethnic members and to encourage and support them to stand as election candidates.
5. Work with others to tackle racism:
Some employers have equality committees or equality champion schemes you could get involved in. If not, there are often likeminded colleagues you could join up with to think about how to promote race equality at work.
You could help to arrange or promote anti-racist training opportunities at work. Ideally, encourage your employer to provide this widely to staff rather than just those who already have an interest.
Some Colleges and Universities have Students’ Union officers responsible for equality. They should be able to advise you about any opportunities to get involved in anti-racist activities on campus.
Universities can apply to join the ECU’s Race Equality Charter scheme.
You can support campaigning groups and get involved with community organisations. All organisations work in different ways, so opportunities range from volunteering to holding a fundraiser, donating money or attending a protest rally. Not all organisations advertise for volunteers or have formal volunteering processes (particularly smaller community groups) but if you can offer practical help, some will welcome informal involvement – so if you are aware of a local group you’d like to support, there’s no harm in getting in touch to offer your assistance. Most formal volunteering opportunities will be advertised through local Volunteer Centres.
As you’ll gather from our ‘Changing the Race Equality Paradigm’ guide, CRER’s focus is on tackling structural and institutional racism, so we’re particularly keen to see more individuals pushing for change in the institutions they’re involved in.
Tackling these entrenched forms of racism is especially important for the future generations of young minority ethnic Scots who will face racism based on their skin colour. Xenophobia against white migrants (horrifying as it may be) thankfully tails off once families have settled here. Their children grow up being perceived by others as Scottish; they ‘look’ Scottish and ‘sound’ Scottish.
Black minority ethnic Scots whose grandparents were born here, on the other hand, continue to face the eternal question: “Where are you from?”
The attitude that underlies that question in ‘friendly’ small talk is the same one which leads to racist violence. Assumptions about whether someone belongs or not. About who is ‘welcome here’ – and, for that matter, who has the power and privilege to ‘welcome’ another person to their own home in the first place.
Truthfully, there’s nothing particularly new or different about the racism we’re seeing following the EU referendum. What’s really remarkable is the strength of the current public outcry against it, and the opportunity this brings to build support for anti-racism in Scotland.
We know from previous experience that the media will soon shift its focus away from hate crime, abuse and inequality. It never had much focus to begin with on the less dramatic but equally damaging racial inequalities people face in employment, income and political representation.
It’s up to all of us to keep anti-racism at the top of the agenda.