Britain’s equality watchdog ‘colluding in denial of institutional racism’ | Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

A former employee of the British equality watchdog accused him of not supporting the human rights of ethnic minorities and of colluding in the denial of structural and institutional racism.

In an email sent to colleagues just before she left the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the staff member also accused the watchdog of “rejection of racial gas. “.

The email, seen by the Guardian, reflects concerns about the EHRC being held outside the organization, which has been at the center of a number of controversies, calling into question its commitment to people of color and other minorities.

The former middle-ranking employee, whom the Guardian does not name, wrote that it has become increasingly difficult to talk about race at the EHRC.

She said: “I’m sick of constantly having to be the person to both explain racism and defend its existence (also known as ‘racial gaslighting’); and by racism I mean structural and institutional racism.

“I’m sick and tired of being part of an institution that aims to support equality and human rights for ethnic minorities, which is supposed to recognize and accept structural and institutional racism, but I find myself in an institution that is associates with his denial. . “

As an example, she said the terminology of structural racism had been removed from the EHRC’s survey of racial inequalities in health and social service workplaces – despite the fact that providers of the NHS acknowledged its existence – and that ethnic minority colleagues subsequently felt compelled to quit the investigation.

She also cited the EHRC’s positive response to the government-commissioned Sewell report on racial and ethnic disparities, which was widely criticized, including by UN human rights experts who said ‘he was trying to “normalize white supremacy”. Kishwer Falkner, President of the EHRC, welcomed the report when it was released, saying it “identifies the various causes of the disparities”.

In a speech last year, then-Minister for Women and Equality Liz Truss announced a shift in the government’s equality priorities to the detriment of gender and race, saying that the supervisory commissioners “would move this program forward”.

The email sent by the former EHRC employee read: “Some of our senior leaders in England have helped dismantle the backbone of the commission – its integrity and authenticity – when it comes to racing. It is incredibly difficult. Not only do I experience structural and institutional racism, but I also have to try to fight it, when the government and now the EHRC tell me it does not exist.

The Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights accused the EHRC of “failing to show leadership and failing to gain confidence in the fight against racial equality” and called for the recreation of a body similar to the Commission for Racial Equality, which was dissolved and incorporated into the EHRC in 2007.

An EHRC spokesperson said: “The general claim that the EHRC does not prioritize the protected breed characteristic is wrong; the fight against racial discrimination remains a priority within the framework of our strategic plan. However, it is not the role of the EHRC to develop or promote particular political theories on racism; rather, we are a regulator charged by law to administer and enforce the law of the land.

“To do this, we necessarily work on concepts that have legal meaning, rather than concepts that are not defined by law. Our mandate is to focus on eliminating racial discrimination using our powers of compliance, enforcement and litigation, which our current work focuses on, rather than entering into a debate on political ideas. “

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