Oxford City Council’s newly launched Anti-racism Charter is facing criticism from the Coalition of Black Communities and Communities of Colour.
The Charter, which was released on 30th October, said it 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”.
Within the Charter, the Council commits to three core actions: first, an annual review of the Charter, including the definitions and a reaffirmation of the Council’s commitment to be an Anti-Racist city. Secondly, the council promises to showcase the talent and achievements of ethnic minorities and people of colour across the city through various events. Finally, the Council will launch an Oxford specific Anti-Racist City Quality Mark that signatories can use.
According to the council, the Anti-racism Charter was written through consultation with different groups and people of colour that have lived experience of racism in the form of seven focus groups.
However, the Oxford Coalition of Black Communities and Communities of Colour (OCCCC) published a statement on the same day as the Charter’s launch, criticising the creation process and the Charter itself.
The OCCCC is made up of eighteen groups connected with the issue, such as BLM Oxford and African Calling, among many others. The Coalition also has multiple student partners, including: Kofo Collective University of Oxford, Oxford University Africa Society, and Oxford University Feminist Society.
In their statement, the coalition argues that the Charter “is not sufficiently representative”. The statement describes the consultation process as less legitimate due to the “exclusion of the lived experiences” of some groups and individuals.
The Coalition told Cherwell “it is blatantly obvious that a number of the Black Afrikan heritage community were not consulted” and noted that “Black African heritage are statistically at highest risk of experiencing discrimination based on skin colour”.
The Councillor Marie Tidball, Cabinet Member for Supporting Local Communities, responded to the OCCCC’s comments in a statement to Cherwell: “We invited a wide range of participants to our focus groups, including representatives from Oxford Coalition of Black Communities and Communities of Colour. Not all chose to take up the invitation.”
Moreover, the she stated that “the breadth of signatories to the charter shows that organisations from across the city are willing and committed” to tackling racism, institutional or otherwise.
However, this is disputed by the OCCCC, who say that “dissenting voices within the Anti-Racist City executive have registered their unwillingness to be used as a rubber stamp endorsement for what they perceive as pre-determined objectives and outcomes.”
In sight of this, the OCCCC requested “a serious ongoing dialogue … in regard to implementing concrete race equality actions it has itself committed to undertake in the here and now”, and question why the Council hasn’t adopted a “concrete plan”, similar to those seen in the McGregor Smith Review (2017) and demonstrated by the Nottingham City Council.
The council responded that “tackling racism and intersectional discrimination is a hugely complex challenge. We don’t expect to get this done in one go”.
It likewise notes earlier in the statement that “the beginning of a process to understand the multi-layers of racism and discrimination so that we can deliver the change that we all want to see in the city – including overcoming institutional racism”.
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