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Anti-racism tsar to focus on white immigrants November 26, 2006

Posted by C.A.R.D in Blacks, Card, Chinese, Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination, Discriminate, Discrimination, EU, Racism, racism and discrimination, Racist, Whites.

THE NEW head of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) wants to “broaden the lens” of the organisation to protect immigrants from eastern Europe and move away from the perception of racism as a black issue.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Herald, Dr Kay Hampton of Glasgow Caledonian University, who was appointed chairwoman of the CRE on Wednesday, said there was now a growing need for the organisation to look at racial abuse faced by recent immigrants from Poland and other EU states rather than trying to fight battles that were “no longer relevant”.

“I think the shape of racism is evolving, and from that perspective we need to be clever enough to evolve and change our strategies,” she said.


“The newest immigrants are certainly not black, as many post-war immigrants were, or Asian or Chinese. A lot of them are Polish, they’re white. One would think they would seamlessly integrate, but already we can see evidence that they are the new group being isolated for insults and racial abuse. Using our outdated methods of dealing with racism is certainly not going to work for the people who are experiencing it now.”

Highlighting sectarian abuse and anti-Englishness in Scotland, as well as racism against British Muslims in the wake of 9/11 and the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, will also be a feature of her tenure, she added.

The comments come in the context of Home Office figures, published last week, which revealed that nearly 40,000 eastern European migrants have taken up employment in Scotland since countries including Poland, Latvia and Slovakia joined the European Union in 2004. While there have been few reported cases of discrimination against the new arrivals to date, Hampton said negative media portrayals of an “invasion” of newcomers were a cause for concern.

“If there’s anything I would like to change it’s the blind acceptance that race is a black issue,” she said.

“This is the kind of thinking we had in the 1960s and 1970s. We now know with much more insight and intelligence that racism is an experience that is suffered by people because they happen to be slightly different in some way or present a threat to people who are settled in particular areas.

“Many of those we think traditionally to be affected by racism have now become quite settled in their communities, and we need to encompass a far broader spectrum of people.”

First minister Jack McConnell has already welcomed the recent influx of eastern Europeans, stating that they offered a “marked and welcome contribution to our economy” and had played a significant role in boosting Scotland’s declining population.

According to the Home Office, the bulk of eastern Europeans now working in Scotland are employed in low-paid catering, farming and food-processing positions. FirstGroup, which has recruited more than 1000 Polish workers across the UK, announced earlier this month that its new bus drivers are to be shown Billy Connolly videos and episodes of Only Fools And Horses to help them deal with difficult regional accents.

Elizabeth Rychlik-Sharp of the Scottish-Polish Cultural Association said the majority of eastern Europeans had integrated without incident and that abuse against Poles in Scotland was “extremely rare”.

“You do occasionally hear comments from individuals who feel that Polish immigrants might be taking their jobs or worsening their conditions of employment through taking lower wages, but I don’t know of any actual discrimination,” she said.

“In the past we’ve had postings on our forum that say Poles are just coming here for government benefits, but the reality is they cannot get benefits unless they’ve worked here for at least a year.”

Hampton, who replaces outgoing CRE head Trevor Phillips next month, described her appointment as the CRE’s first female chair as an “indication of how much we’ve changed” and said the profile of the organisation was now as high as it had ever been. Set up in 1976 to act as the guardian of the Race Relations Act and provide legal support for those facing discrimination in the workplace, the CRE will become part of a new body, the Commission for Equality and Human Rights, next year.

“After 30 years it’s nice to feel we can pass on the best of what we’ve done and leave behind all the things that didn’t work so well,” she said. “We’ve got a huge legal legacy and an enormous amount of cases where people have either settled out of court or reconciled with their employers. Personally I think we are at the peak of our strength now and can really bring something to the party in the new organisation.”

C.a.r.d {Citizens Against Racism and Discrimination} Source: Sundayherald.com

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