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.