Bare Faced Cheek of Race Watchdog

Will Smith

I am the co-ordinator of Beyond The Will Smith Challenge (BTWSC), a not-for profit voluntary organisation that uses the creative arts to raise aspirations and promote social inclusion. BTWSC rose to the challenge of  American entertainer Will Smith for artists, particularly rappers, to produce songs that did not have violent or sexist lyrics.

The-Latest.Comers' comments regarding a disturbing e-mail, (copied below), that I received from the British Commission for Racial Equality regarding Brent Youth Spotlight (BYS) 2006, an event that BTWSC runs in north west London, would be welcome.

BYS recognises Brent 13-17 year olds from ethnic minority backgrounds, who deserve recognition for achievement, exemplary behaviour, voluntary work, looking after disabled family members, or turning away from challenging behaviour. The aim is raise their self-esteem and encourage them to reach their full potential. Click on link to Brent Youth Spotlight 2006 for more information.

 * The-Latest members can exclusively view the award-winning Anti-Racist Alliance short film Wondeful World and hear Big Bill Broonzy's powerful song against racism, Black, Brown and White (both attached below). If you are not registered the files will not appear at the end of this article.

 CRE Letter

 25 May 2006

Our ref: 328/419/ OR/AN

Ms Serwah
Via e-mail

Dear Ms Serwah
RACE RELATIONS ACT 1976 (as amended) Advertisement in Wembley Times

We have received a number of complaints regarding the advertisement which appeared in the Wembley Times on Wednesday 03 looking for Brent resident from ethnic minority background who deserve recognition. Section 29 of the Race Relations Act 1976 ("the Act") makes it unlawful "to publish or cause to be published an advertisement which indicates, or might reasonably be understood as indicating, an intention by a person to do an act of discrimination". Unless one of the statutory exemptions applies. Publishers as well as advertisers are liable for breach of this section.

The complainants are alleging that the advertisement is discriminatory in that it only offers an award to residents from ethnic minority background.
Direct Discrimination occurs: when someone is treated less favourable on racial grounds. Racial grounds include not only grounds of race but also those of colour, nationality, citizenship, and ethnic or national origin.
In order that we can consider the complaints further, please let us have your comments in writing, and provide us with statistical data upon which you relied together with further information and background material relating to the award as advertised.

6 Responses to "Bare Faced Cheek of Race Watchdog"


Sun, 05/28/2006 - 15:22
It's appalling, but sadly not surprsing, that the CRE are wasting the tax payers millions that fund their existence by pursuing an organisation like yours which does such good work among young Black people. When I told the former head of the CRE, now Lord Herman Ouseley, about this farce he said 'right wing' elements opposed to harmonious race relations used to regularly send mischievous letters to him when he was in post like the ones that have allegedly triggered the current complaint against your laudable organisation. Ouseley revealed that he would politely but firmly&nbsp; tell the complainants where to get off. You must do us all a big favour by informing the CRE that they should do the job they were set up for, namely defending Black people and other minority ethnic people from racists not the other way around. You can be assured of the full support of&nbsp; <em>The-Latest</em>. Has the CRE given you the names of the people who complained about your work? If so, who are they? Please keep us posted.<br />


Sun, 05/28/2006 - 20:02
Agree with the sentiments expressed above.&nbsp; If the CRE pursues spurious complaints and has the 'bare faced cheek' to ask an organisation to&nbsp;explain why it is legitimate to run an Award for Ethnic Minority young people aged 13 - 17 in a borough like Brent, then it makes you wonder why the organisation was set up.&nbsp;&nbsp;I would have thought that there was enough real work to do examining publications and statements by the BNP but perhaps that is too much like hard work.&nbsp; It is easier to undermine poorly resourced organisations in the hope that they will not be able to respond.&nbsp; I am also interested in the names and backgrounds of the people who have complained.&nbsp; Organisations like BTWSC exist to make a difference and encourage young people, our future, to embrace positive behaviour.&nbsp; That is what Brent Youth Spotlight is about.&nbsp; What we need is an apology from the officer at CRE who thought it&nbsp;OK to waste our tax money on needless communication.&nbsp; Fact is, the Race Relations Act has exceptions and she should know about them, recognise that this is the sort of circumstance to which it applies and not undermine a community organisation by distracting it from its work.&nbsp; I will be watching this space


Tue, 05/30/2006 - 23:56
<p>Agreed. Their sentiment would be hilarious if it didn't represent such a serious, reactionary challenge to obviously positive community work.</p><p>Actually racist employers avoid CRE investigation by ticking the right boxes and informing everyone of their equal opportunities, but of course in reality only employ white people. The sort of challenge you have received seems to seek to deliberately undermine positive, community-focused efforts to create dialogue about racial (and general) equality by pandering to the sophistic logic of the nationalist right and pervert any sentiment of equal opportunities that we've forced our government to accept into assisting the racists themselves.</p><p>There is obviously such a contradiction in a public policy which tollerates in principle the activities of organisations aimed at empowering those discriminated against because of their racial background and the actual employment of such people in that very process.</p><p>I know far too little about the law on this issue to say whether their actions are in keeping with their governmental mandate but suspect&nbsp;our Editor's reference to their previous employee's views are encouraging.</p><p>It there's anything I can do to help please let me know.</p><p>Good luck, solidarity,</p><p>Joe</p>


Sat, 06/03/2006 - 10:01
<p>You say the White man isn't getting a fair deal.&nbsp; Fact is the Black is still not getting a fair deal and much as you might like a curry or shop at Mr Patel's, it does not mean&nbsp;White society&nbsp;respects the&nbsp;contribution of Black society.&nbsp; I for one do not accept it right for anyone to treat anyone badly and would defend any White man or woman's right to enjoy their life as they want.&nbsp; But their freedom to enjoy does not mean stepping on the rights of Black people.&nbsp; Your heart is probably in the right place, luv, but the reality is immigration and asylum&nbsp;are part of a bigger story.&nbsp; Part of the story is, these folk are here because you were there: you trampled over the rights of Black people in the colonies, sold islands you did not have the right to sell for military bases (e.g Diego Garcia) &nbsp;and terrorised populations into exile, supported tyrants and made it impossible for people to live at home.&nbsp; So spare us the poor White people nonsense.</p><p>I was disappointed with your opening sentence.&nbsp; What fancy words, what mumbo jumbo?!&nbsp; The English language is a beautiful tool and just because you cannot use it well or understand it does not mean you should resort to childish insults.&nbsp; Fact is the Race Relations Act and amendments were brought in to address what British society acknowledged was wrong and did not fit with the British sense of fair play and justice.&nbsp; Fact is asking an organisation to justify an award which is covered by the exemptions is bare faced cheek. It is a waste of tax payers money (immigrants pay taxes too!) It is also a lost opportunity to educate the ignorant.</p><p>For your information, national insurance numbers enable you to work and not to live in luxury.&nbsp; Many immigrants have contributed to the national pot without taking a penny out in terms of benefit. Making a fuss over foreign prisoners not being considered for deportation and not getting the point that the whole criminal justice system is in shambles is very sad.&nbsp; Does it feel better to be murdered or raped by someone who is not foreign?&nbsp; You suggest that BTWSC give Black youth a kick up the backside.&nbsp; You might believe in vigilantism, some of us don't.&nbsp; The police and courts should be supported to do their job.&nbsp; Whilst I subscribe to firm parenting I will affirm anyone who wants to reward positive behaviour and is doing something to make a difference.&nbsp; Rather than pontificating you might consider putting your words into action - some young people (Black &amp; White) need to rediscover firm boundaries and some parents would welcome a bootcamp where they could send impossible children so they can rediscover the values they were taught when they were younger.&nbsp; You might take the trouble to set one up and leave BTWSC to continue the work it is called to do without being harrassed.&nbsp; In any case the organisation does more than organise the awards.&nbsp; That is why the CRE letter has been a destructive, unnecessary &nbsp;disruption: the training courses are open to everybody but the awards are targeted for a justifiable reason, and that is permitted by the law.</p>