The City DebateRacial Equality

The City Debate led by Sir Herman Ouseley, 1st July 1999

Is racial equality incompatible with personal self interest in the UK?

Sir Herman Ouseley, the national Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, spoke to an audience of around eighty people in St Peter’s Church on 1st July. This was part of a series of City Debates on social issues organised by St Peter’s over the last few years, in association with the Nottingham Evening Post.

Sir Herman said that businesses and groups should not trade with organisations refusing to give ethnic minorities equal treatment. They would not be able to address racism in the workplace until they admitted that it was there. Many experienced African-Caribbean, Asian and other ethnic minority workers still found themselves training up white employees to be promoted over them, or even replace them. He said:

Organisations have to understand the contributions that ethnic minorities can bring. That they don’t come to any organisation just because it suddenly says, ‘we want a few black faces around here’.

Sir Herman also spoke about the Government Inquiry into the Metropolitan Police’s investigation of black teenager Stephen Lawrence’s murder. He said that it had provoked more awareness of institutional racism. But, he added, right-wing groups were also capable of using the Inquiry to incite hatred when targeting areas for recruits. Last August Mansfield was labelled a breeding ground for British National party recruits by a sports magazine. It is frequently leafleted by the BNP. Sir Herman said "it is important that areas of known racist activity are being focused on more, by agencies such as the police. We have to make sure that the hatred there is not being allowed to express itself in a violent manner."

Angela Newton
© St Peter's Church, Nottingham
Last revised 29th August 1999