Anti-Racism Charter

About this Charter

Our vision is: Collectively committed to being proactive, in making Oxford an anti-racist city

We’re a city making an active and conscious effort to have difficult and sometimes uncomfortable conversations about what it means in practice to be anti-racist – both as individuals and across our organisations and institutions.

We are a city working together to change our thinking of racism as conscious, intentional and explicit actions to also understanding when it is unconscious, unintentional and indirect actions too.

We recognise that although racism does happen to, and by individuals, it can often be institutional too – racist actions which are embedded in an organisation and the way it behaves towards certain groups and individuals.

Without understanding the root causes of racism and how it affects people we cannot dismantle the institutional structures which give rise to it, that result in inequality and unfair outcomes for people from ethnic minorities and people of colour.

Therefore, this Charter demonstrates Oxford’s commitment to being both anti-racist and lays the foundation to advancing equality of opportunity for all ethnic minorities and people of colour in our city.

Defining Racism in this Charter

See the definition of racism on Dictionary.com.

  • Belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.
  • Also called institutional racism, a policy, system of government, etc. that is associated with or originated in such a doctrine, and that favours members of the dominant racial or ethnic group, or has a neutral effect on their life experiences, while discriminating against or harming members of other groups, ultimately serving to preserve the social status, economic advantage, or political power of the dominant group.
  • An individual action or behaviour based upon or fostering such a doctrine; racial discrimination.
  • Racial or ethnic prejudice or intolerance towards ethnic minorities and people of colour.

Steps to becoming an Anti-Racist City

On 9 August 2019, Oxford City Council, through a democratic decision making process at its Full Council meeting agreed to make Oxford an Anti-Racist City. The full motion and its commitments can be found on our Making Oxford an Anti-racist City page.

This agreement to become an Anti-Racist city, is supported by other commitments adopted through this process, including the All Party Parliamentary Group definition on  Islamophobia (see more on our Adopting a definition od Islamophobia page), the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of Anti-Semitism (see more on our Response to the Petition news item) and to become a City of Sanctuary (see more on our City of Sanctuary Motion page). These commitments lay down the building blocks for the creation of this charter. This Charter, and all signatories to it, adopt these definitions in full as part of our evolving understanding of racism and the actions we take to tackle it.

However, this list is not exhaustive of all the many types of racism people in our city might experience. In June of this year, following the death of George Floyd, the leader of Oxford City Council, Councillor Susan Brown, made the following statement in support of the Black Lives Matters movement. Additionally, during the same period COVID -19 has shone a light on the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on minorities and people of colour.

As a result of all these racial injustices, and the poor outcomes that the black community repeatedly experience Oxford is adopting a specific definition of Anti-black racism in this Charter (see more in the EU High Level Group on combating racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance report - Anti-Black racism was agreed by focus groups in Oxford as a more acceptable term, instead of Afrophobia. European Network Against Racism is an international human rights and racial justice organisation that co-produced the anti-black racism definition incorporated in this charter - see the ENAR website):

“A specific form of racism that refers to any act of violence or discrimination including racist hate speech, fuelled by historical abuses and negative stereotyping, and leading to the exclusion and dehumanisation of people of African and Caribbean descent. It can take many forms: dislike, bias, oppression, racism and structural and institutional discrimination, among others”.

Accordingly, Anti-black racism can be seen as “the result of the social construction of race to which generic and/or cultural specificities and stereotypes are attributed (racialisation)” which “is deeply embedded in the collective European imagination and continues to impact the lives of people of African and Caribbean descent / Black Europeans”.

Moreover, we recognise, that there are minority groups in the UK, such as the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller Communities (GRT), who face pervasive prejudice and discrimination in their everyday lives. These experiences of prejudice are seemingly so common that they have almost become normalised. We are committed to developing a definition with the GRT community, and drawing on recent international work in this area, that can be incorporated in future iterations of this charter.

Until we do that, we restate our ongoing commitment to the United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (see more on the United Nations Treaties website) and our obligations under the Equality Act 2010 (see more on the UK Government Legislation website), in ensuring inclusivity for all our communities in recognising the racism and discrimination they face.

We also recognise that there are multi-layers to racism and discrimination. This means such racism could impact on people differently because of other human characteristics (In line with our commitments our obligations under the Equality Act 2010) based on age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, religion or belief, sex, sexual orientation, or socio-economic status. All of these characteristics intersect (see more on the Merriam Webster website) - overlap and impact on each other - and must be reflected in the difficult and sometimes uncomfortable conversations we need to have to realise our collective aspirations to be a just, fair and more equal anti-racist city.

Principles

Support and actively recognise that ethnic minorities and people of colour are not one homogenous group. We will continue to develop meaningful relationships that cut through the barriers from within communities preventing people from being seen and heard and engaging in two way dialogue to understand and address the issues that impact disproportionately on minorities.

Actively promote and celebrate the history and achievements of ethnic minorities and people of colour in communities, schools, colleges, universities, workplaces and through arts and cultural events to realise our shared history as core to British history.

Nurture, showcase and award the talent in our diverse communities, so that people of colour and ethnic minorities are recognised and celebrated as role models too, not just by ethnic minorities, but also the wider community.

Community spaces used by the public are accessible, affordable and inclusive for everyone’s use, reflecting the diverse needs of the people in the city. Work together to ensure the governance structures of organisations in this city are diverse and representative of the people they serve.  

Tackle institutional and structural racism. People in positions of power and leadership exhibit the moral leadership and conscience to raise their voices against racial injustice, and empower people to speak truth to power in a fear-free, supportive environment.

Understand fully the damaging impact of the “Hostile Environment” (all ‘policies which make life difficult for migrants living in the UK’, see the JCWI website) on ethnic minorities and people of colour in our City including the legacy of the Windrush scandal that impacts on the black community to the present day.

Acknowledge that ethnic minorities and people of colour will have a ‘lived experience’ of racism that all communities and generations need to learn from, to prevent future generations experiencing the same systemic discrimination and outcomes.

Represent and equitably resource initiatives that advance equality for ethnic minorities and people of colour, as a key feature of local democracy and future equality, diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Young people from working class communities and ethnic minority backgrounds are provided with equitable access to places, facilities and opportunities that may be perceived by them to be reserved for people with privilege. Young people are recognised as enablers, educators and agents for change.

Actions we will take

  • Every October we will review this Charter, review the definitions and reaffirm our commitment to be an Anti-Racist city. 
  • Every year we will showcase the talent and achievements of ethnic minorities and people of colour across the city – at awards ceremonies, through arts and cultural events, exhibitions and storytelling conversations.
  • In the first year of the Charter we will launch an Oxford specific Anti-Racist City Quality Mark that organisations and community groups can download and incorporate in their stationery, after they have signed and committed to the principles set out in this Charter.

Declaration

By signing this Anti-Racism Charter I commit/our organisation commits to the principles set out in this charter to be an international anti-racist city.

An online sign up link will be available shortly.

Definitions

Islamophobia

All Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims Definition of Islamophobia.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on British Muslims was established on 18 July 2017 to build on the work of the APPG on Islamophobia, but with a wider remit to examine a broad range of issues that British Muslims care about, and are affected by.

APPGs are composed of Members of both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

They are informal, cross-party groups that have no official status within Parliament, are not accorded any powers by Parliament or any of its Committees, and are independent of Government.

Following two years of consultation, on 27th November 2018, the APPG on British Muslims published a report titled “Islamophobia Defined: the inquiry into a working definition of Islamophobia.”

This report contained the following definition:

“Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.”

Contemporary examples of Islamophobia in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in encounters between religions and non-religions in the public sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

  • Calling for, aiding, instigating or justifying the killing or harming of Muslims in the name of a racist/ fascist ideology, or an extremist view of religion.
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Muslims as such, or of Muslims as a collective group, such as, especially but not exclusively, conspiracies about Muslim entryism in politics, government or other societal institutions; the myth of Muslim identity having a unique propensity for terrorism, and claims of a demographic ‘threat’ posed by Muslims or of a ‘Muslim takeover’.
  • Accusing Muslims as a group of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Muslim person or group of Muslim individuals, or even for acts committed by non-Muslims.
  • Accusing Muslims as a group, or Muslim majority states, of inventing or exaggerating Islamophobia, ethnic cleansing or genocide perpetrated against Muslims.
  • Accusing Muslim citizens of being more loyal to the ‘Ummah’ (transnational Muslim community) or to their countries of origin, or to the alleged priorities of Muslims worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
  • Denying Muslim populations the right to self-determination e.g., by claiming that the existence of an independent Palestine or Kashmir is a terrorist endeavour.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of Muslims behaviours that are not expected or demanded of any other groups in society, eg loyalty tests.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic Islamophobia (e.g. Muhammed being a paedophile, claims of Muslims spreading Islam by the sword or subjugating “Islamophobia is rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness or perceived Muslimness.” minority groups under their rule) to characterize Muslims as being ‘sex groomers’, inherently violent or incapable of living harmoniously in plural societies.
  • Holding Muslims collectively responsible for the actions of any Muslim majority state, whether secular or constitutionally Islamic.

Anti-Semitism

About the IHRA working definition of antisemitism

The IHRA is the only intergovernmental organization mandated to focus solely on Holocaust-related issues, so with evidence that the scourge of antisemitism is once again on the rise, we resolved to take a leading role in combatting it. IHRA experts determined that in order to begin to address the problem of antisemitism, there must be clarity about what antisemitism is. 

The IHRA’s Committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial worked to build international consensus around a working definition of antisemitism, which was subsequently adopted by the Plenary. By doing so, the IHRA set an example of responsible conduct for other international fora and provided an important tool with practical applicability for its Member Countries. This is just one illustration of how the IHRA has equipped policymakers to address this rise in hate and discrimination at their national level.

To find out more about the working definition of antisemitism, please refer to our Fact Sheet. Information on adoptions or endorsements of the working definition is based on information provided to the IHRA by Member and Liaison Countries.

The working definition of antisemitism

In the spirit of the Stockholm Declaration that states: “With humanity still scarred by …antisemitism and xenophobia the international community shares a solemn responsibility to fight those evils” the committee on Antisemitism and Holocaust Denial called the IHRA Plenary in Budapest 2015 to adopt the following working definition of antisemitism. 
 
On 26 May 2016, the Plenary in Bucharest decided to adopt the following non-legally binding working definition of antisemitism:

“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.”

To guide IHRA in its work, the following examples may serve as illustrations:

Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that leveled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic. Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits.

Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:

  • Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
  • Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
  • Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
  • Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
  • Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
  • Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
  • Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
  • Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.

Antisemitic acts are criminal when they are so defined by law (for example, denial of the Holocaust or distribution of antisemitic materials in some countries).

Criminal acts are antisemitic when the targets of attacks, whether they are people or property – such as buildings, schools, places of worship and cemeteries – are selected because they are, or are perceived to be, Jewish or linked to Jews.

Antisemitic discrimination is the denial to Jews of opportunities or services available to others and is illegal in many countries.

Anti-Black Racism

“A specific form of racism that refers to any act of violence or discrimination including racist hate speech, fuelled by historical abuses and negative stereotyping, and leading to the exclusion and dehumanisation of people of African and Caribbean descent. It can take many forms: dislike, bias, oppression, racism and structural and institutional discrimination, among others”.

Accordingly, Anti-black racism can be seen as “the result of the social construction of race to which generic and/or cultural specificities and stereotypes are attributed (racialisation)” which “is deeply embedded in the collective European imagination and continues to impact the lives of people of African and Caribbean descent / Black Europeans”.

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