The BME Third Sector says racism is still prevalent a decade
on from the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry recommendations.
This is highlighted by a publication from Voice4Change
England which has marked the tenth anniversary of the Stephen
Lawrence Inquiry with the release of a new booklet Eliminating
racism: Are we there yet?
The booklet assesses the impact of the Inquiry’s
recommendations a decade on in shaping the work of the BME
Third Sector and the future role of the sector in creating
a successful multi-racial Britain.
According to V4CE, the booklet enables the BME Third Sector
to speak for itself in saying whether the recommendations
have reduced racism and created a more equitable society.
It also allows funders to comment on the legacy of the Inquiry
on the decisions they make.
Eliminating Racism: Are we there yet? contains
the perspectives of twenty eight leading figures including
representatives of BME Third Sector organisations, key bodies
funding BME groups, and senior civil servants. There are
also contributions from Doreen Lawrence and Dr Richard Stone,
who was an official advisor to the Inquiry.
Commenting on the reflections of the contributors Vandna
Gohil, Voice4Change England firector, said: “The contributions
illustrate that there is more to do and that racism is prevalent
and insidious in undermining people from BME communities
to achieve equitable outcomes. Racism prevents them from
achieving their fullest potential.
"We need existing legalisation to work better in combating
this through firmer enforcement and it is vital that there
is no dilution of the provisions of the Race Relations Amendment
Act 2000 and the role of race in the Equalities Bill. Long
term investment is overdue to support the BME Third Sector
playing its full part in building a thriving multi-racial
In addition, the booklet contains a summary of the Inquiry’s
recommendations that relate to the work of the BME Third
Sector, and outlines the continuing inequalities for BME
communities across areas such as employment, education,
criminal justice, health, housing and income.
It provides the Inquiry’s definition of ‘institutional
racism’ which it saw as ‘The collective failure
of an organisation to provide an appropriate and professional
service to people because of their colour, culture or ethnic
It was this embedded nature of racism that led to the introduction
of the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000 requiring public
authorities to act against discrimination and promote racial
The substance of the booklet is the lively and informative
contributions from the many informed and respected figures
in the BME Third Sector.
According to Rob Berkeley, director of the Runnymede Trust,
the Inquiry was a ‘watershed’ in enabling the
BME Third Sector to work with public authorities to address
the challenges and opportunities of ethnic diversity. He
concludes: “there remains a need for vigilance, research
and advocacy to build a successful multi-racial Britain.”
A number of contributors express concern that there hasn’t
been the progress expected since the recommendations were
Abdul Khan, chief executive of the North East BME Network
BECON, says that despite good progress in some ways there
still plenty of examples “where race equality and
equality and diversity issues fail to be addressed”.
Ila Chandavarkar, chief officer at East of England BME
Network MENTER, believes the problem to be that many public
authorities and mainstream Third Sector organisations despite
the Inquiry “still fail to recognise that an organisational
ethos and culture which is perceived as neutral can fail
to reach BME communities or operate to exclude them”.
Some contributors note that some important progress has
been made. For Doreen Lawrence: “One of the positive
improvements over the last ten years is that racism is discussed
more openly and that the Inquiry’s recommendations
were not only for the police forces but for other institutions
that had to have policies in place to address inequality
that had existed in the work place.”
Funding organisations also recognise the importance of
the Inquiry on their work in challenging them to accept
they were excluding BME groups.
According to Gaynor Humphreys, director of London Funders:
“Deliberate changes have been made since then in many
programmes to support small organisations, while others
have led on strengthening BME infrastructure funding.”
Peter Wanless, chief executive of the Big Lottery Fund,
notes how the Inquiry lead to them creating mechanisms that
staff to “carefully consider and address the (race)
equality impact of our grant programmes, policies, and practices,
both direct and indirect”.
The booklet is available from the V4CE website at www.voice4change-england.co.uk