Oxford’s Anti-Racism Charter celebrated its second anniversary at the end of October, with a push to encourage more organisations to sign up.
Ten new organisations signed the charter during Black History Month in October, making a commitment to tackling the effects of racism in the city.
Islamophobia Awareness Month runs through November, and the city council is working to get more organisations signing the Anti-Racism Charter as part of this. Many organisations already champion equality, committing to the charter is a way to highlight this work.
The City Council established the charter on behalf of the whole city in 2020. The charter sets out definitions for anti-Black racism, antisemitism and Islamophia, so that signatories can make meaningful commitments to tackling them. When it launched the council made clear the need across the city to have uncomfortable conversations about racism, how it is expressed, and ways to change.
The council carried out a review of the charter earlier this year, working with community, local leaders and councillors. Communities asked the council to change from a commitment to reviewing the charter every year to reviewing it every two years. There was also a challenge to involve more white people in the conversations around racism and equality, something that highlights the importance of city organisations signing up to the Anti-Racism Charter.
“Tackling racism is everyone’s responsibility and it’s why the Anti-Racism Charter is so important. The charter encourages everyone in the city, and especially institutions and places of work and learning, to have more difficult conversations about racism, the impact of bigotry and what we as a city must do to challenge it. I am a racialised woman, I’m also a Muslim woman who wears a hijab, making me and additional target for racist and gendered Islamophobia. Along with my family and many of my friends I understand how damaging racism is – in all its forms - and the dehumanising impact it has on us.
“Signing the anti-racism charter is a visible and important way for organisations to show their commitment and to work together to create an anti-racist and inclusive city.”
Councillor Shaista Aziz, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Communities and Culture
“Many of our projects are already integrating the principles to enable everyone who lives in Oxford to contribute the best of themselves, and have a say in shaping their locality, where limited opportunities may have been given previously. We also operate with key principles that aim to celebrate diversity and enable full participation as an organisation with regards to diversity and inclusion, recruitment, how we facilitate & plan our community engagement activities as well as continually developing our internal policies.”
New signatories Wongani Mwanza, architect at Transition By Design
“I firmly believe in the power of people and communities to come together, to stand up for each other and to recognise each other’s shared humanity.
“Throughout history, when times are hard people have turned against minorities. With the cost of living crisis impacting us all, we must be very watchful for the divisive racist rhetoric of those who want to especially scapegoat Black people and people of colour, Muslims, Jews, migrants and refugees. The Anti-Racism Charter enables us to come together and develop ways of putting our anti-racist values into action.”
New signatories to the charter are:
- FMG Ltd
- Fusion Lifestyle
- Jessop and Cook
- Jericho Community Association
- Oxfordshire Play Association
- Transition by Design
- West Oxford Community Association
- Maggie Lewis - Neighbourhood watch
- Annalissa Milla
- Gavino Pinna