Wednesday, August 22, 2007

European Commission to take down racially offensive comic from its website

The European Commission is to remove the comic What me a racist from its Europa website following a complaint from civil liberties group Liberty and Law taken up on its behalf by the Commission for Racial Equality [CRE].

The glossy A4 comic produced in 1998 to combat racism was published in all the official European Union languages. It was “designed for teachers to use when addressing the subject of racism with young people” and has been on its website since 2001.

Liberty and Law complained about the offensive racial caricatures of the black characters portrayed, reminiscent of the treatment given to Africans in HergĂ©’s 1931 book Tintin in the Congo.

The CRE made rapid progress with the Commission for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities. On 21 August the CRE told Liberty and Law that the Commission underlined to them that it was “not their intention to be offensive to any group or individual and are looking into the matter”. Just a few hours later Commissioner Spidla’s spokesperson asked the Communications Directorate General to remove the comic from its website.

The Commission also confirmed that the paper copies were out of print and would not be reprinted. The CRE reported that the “Commission wanted to reiterate that they did not intend to offend African Europeans (or any other group addressed in the cartoon) and should this have been the case they regret this deeply and offer their sincere apologies.”

Liberty and Law director Gerald Hartup commented: “ It is amazing that so little sensitivity was employed by those responsible for its commission and production and that it got past Europe’s anti-racist campaigners. However, Commissioner Spidla deserves credit for acting promptly when it was belatedly brought to his attention.”

What me a racist?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Bedfordshire girl puts race commissars on the spot

It has taken an eighteen-year-old Bedfordshire student, Abigail Howarth, to expose the sickness and confusion at the heart of the UK’s race relation’s legislation. She did so because of what she found out when she wanted to compete for a training scheme with the Environment Agency.

The strangely worded advertisement stated that applications for the four traineeships “are encouraged from people of the following descents: Asian, Indian, White other (e.g. Irish, Welsh, Scottish, European), African, Caribbean or of Mixed Race origins.

The traineeships purported to be provided under Section 37 of the Race Relations Act 1976 (Amendment 2000). This allows employers and their agents to provide training schemes to racial groups underrepresented in particular jobs compared to their numbers in the working population either locally or nationally. It had been restricted historically for commonsense reasons to non-white groups although civil liberties groups have long opposed the racial discrimination it perpetuates.

In this case PATH National Ltd, the major development agency acting in this business, in a bizarre and arguably illegal move, extended the qualifying groups to include everyone except white English people.

Civil liberties group Liberty and Law has successfully campaigned against misuses of the Race Relations Act including Section 37 in cooperation with the Commission for Racial Equality. It has asked the CRE to request PATH to freeze the recruitment scheme until it has determined its legality.

There appears be no co-ordination between PATH and the Environment Agency.

Extending the scheme to anyone who is white unless they are English cannot be justified by the statistics available from the Environment Agency. They explained to Liberty and Law that they “have no evidence that white Scottish, Irish or Welsh are underrepresented in the Anglian region of the Environment Agency.” More strongly they stated: “ Whilst PATH employ a broad criteria inviting applicants from people of these backgrounds, applicants would not be progressed further with us.”

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Financial Times latest to award Trevor Phillips a knighthood

Today in a report about the Commission for Equality and Human Rights, Trevor Phillips its chair, in the news over his Queen Mother colostomy bag joke, was designated "Sir Trevor Phillips".

The Financial Times joins a host of other bodies that have assumed a man of his distinction would have a knighthood.

Mr Phillips OBE heads the new body that will combine the roles of the the Disability Rights Commissionthe Commission for Racial Equality and the Equal Opportunities Commission.
Commission for Racial Equality: institutionally racist and sexist to the end

White staff and men stay grossly under-represented at the Commission for Racial Equality [CRE]. This is revealed in the £20 million organisation’s final report buried away on its website.

It shows 43% of its staff are white and that 64% of are women.

The CRE has remained indifferent about its discriminatory recruitment policy during its entire existence despite being challenged by equality campaigners to set targets to attain a racially and sexually representative workforce..

It still brazenly claims in its final report that its “workforce showed a good mix by ethnicity”1. It has refused to state for many years what the racial profile of its staff should be. This strategy has worked well given lax parliamentary supervision of its work.

Liberty and Law director Gerald Hartup stated: “This claim is outrageous. Do its commissioners read the publications their organization puts out? Why do they believe that targets are necessary for everyone else but that they should be exempt? That’s a rhetorical question, of course. The answer is clear. They knew they could get away with it.”

In the absence of any statement from the CRE, Liberty and Law believes that it should have adopted the targets of Ken Livingstone’s Greater London Authority that 52% of the workforce should be women and 27% black, Asian and minority ethnic people. This would at least reflect London’s population from which the majority of the CRE’s staff is presumably drawn - if not the national population.

As the CRE will only exist until 31st September 2007 it will of course escape any sanctions from our holidaying elected representatives.

1 Commission for Racial Equality Employment Monitoring Data 2006