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Racism and the Law

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 11 Oct 2017 | comments*Discuss
Race skin Colour racism racist

Racism, the belief that one race is inherently better than another (or all others), is sadly still evident in our world today. Though discrimination based on race is illegal in the United Kingdom, and there is an international Convention calling for the end of racial discrimination, many private citizens still harbour racism in their thoughts, attitudes and actions. Understanding the laws relating to racism and learning how to effectively fight racism are matters that anyone can undertake.

Racism and the UK Law

The Race Relations Act 1976 and all of its amendments and extensions protect individuals from being discriminated against in employment on the grounds of colour, race, nationality, religious beliefs or ethnicity. This Act does not distinguish between whether racist practices were done on purpose or not, it is concerned only with the fact that racial discrimination occurred. Four main types of discrimination are described in legislation related to employment. Direct discrimination is deliberate and obvious, for example if a promotion is being held only for members of one race.

Indirect discrimination occurs when practices of policies disadvantage one or more racial groups, such as requiring members of one race to complete more tasks than another but expecting them to get their work done just as quickly. Harassment occurs when the workplace is allowed to become a hostile environment for members of a certain race, whether through direct threats, methods of intimidation or "jokes" about that race. Finally, victimisation occurs when someone has complained about racism and is then treated less fairly than others, such as being denied overtime or their preferred shifts. These actions are all in breach of the Race Relations Act 1976 and its amendments and extensions, and should be reported if they are observed or experienced.

Racism and International Treaties

The United Nations' International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination is the main international document to address the issues of racism and racial discrimination. It was adopted in 1965 and came into force in 1969. This Convention particularly addresses racial discrimination in employment and education. Though it is not necessarily strictly enforceable in individual nations, those nations who did sign and ratify the Convention have agreed to meet the standards set forth in it.

Fighting Racism

Reporting racist practices and confronting racist individuals are both ways of fighting racism. If it is believed that racial discrimination has taken place in breach of the Race Relations Act 1976 and its amendments and extensions then going to court is one way of reporting racist practices in employment. Reporting racial discrimination to local authorities is another method of calling attention to inappropriate practices, particularly if racism is experienced while receiving health or social care. Finally, reporting racial discrimination to organisations working for equal rights may also help to eradicate such behaviours. The Equality and Human Rights Commission, One Workplace, Rewind and the Race Equality Foundation all work for racial equality and fight against racial discrimination in the United Kingdom.

Confronting racial discrimination when it occurs is also something that anyone can do. Every time an individual reconsiders a stereotype, speaks out against discrimination, ceases to make sexist jokes and references, tells others that such jokes and references are unacceptable, and does all that (s)he can to learn from the talents of each individual, regardless of race or skin colour, then racism and racial discrimination are being fought. However, individuals should only confront racists or racist practices if it is safe to do so. If it is not, then walking away and reporting the incident to the relevant authority or authorities is a better idea.

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kek racism isn't reeally a big deal where i live nya~
trap - 3-Oct-17 @ 12:32 AM
i think racists are secretly cloder to us than we realise i.e family members
bobsyouruncle - 20-May-17 @ 9:33 PM
@Darren - it depends on the context in which it was used. We can refer to people's skin colour, it is allowed. CDG.
CharlieG - 24-Oct-16 @ 1:48 PM
While watching peston on Sunday itv 23-10-2016 labour mp Jess Phillips used the terminology "these very rich white men" , surely under the race relations act 1976 it's discrimination using ones colour as if she had replaced white with black there would be an outcry surely that's is still unacceptable?? A complaint has been sent to itv.
Darren - 23-Oct-16 @ 4:02 PM
I have just been driven out off a job by a racist manager who every day for 8 weeks thought it was ok to talk to me like I was nothing, clearlybecause I was black,I decided to walk away due to the distress that I went through,when I complained to ghe agency there answer was to put me somewhere else, ghe whole thing has put me off work. My field off work is construction.
tone - 15-Sep-16 @ 3:19 PM
There is an ad for a flat on my road that says 'Muslims only', is this racist? It doesn't seem fair that only one religion can apply for this.
Deena B - 29-Mar-16 @ 5:31 AM
I have been having problems with my neighbours who rent the house next door to me. The landlady has told me if they leave she will put asylum seekers in next door. is this racist? She will not listen to reason about her tenants and say if they go she will rent to asylum seekers. I just want to know if this is wrong for her to say as I find her comments very racist. Can you advise me on this please as I feel she is making threats to me. many thanks LULU
lulu - 22-Jan-16 @ 6:54 PM
Yesterday I saw an online flat letting ad. The description of the ad said: 'the neighborhood is nice, no Arabs or Indians...'. This made me feel upset, isn't it racism?
QQ - 11-Nov-15 @ 11:42 PM
we need to have a proper sit down with racist organisations live and then ask them why they do this.
anonymous - 9-Nov-15 @ 12:00 PM
Terrible, every1 was very made for one reason and that reason was to enjoy life on a wonderful world full of all the accessories we want so stop the fight and think more bright
Jakey - 19-Jan-15 @ 9:47 AM
What about racism against blondes? We are stereo typed in the media, either ar blond woman with black man, making it dangerous for us on public transport. Blond men or blonde women are alway portrayed as villains. It's not safe for blondes to go abroad , we are shouted down if we complain.
Blond - 16-Jan-15 @ 5:44 PM
I texted the cleaning company for the building i live in (i pay a share of fortnightly cleaning costs for communal areas) and i asked if the cleaner could, rather than leave a pile of leaves swept into a corner if she could bag them and put them in the bin area.First of all the contractor challenged me and said the cleaner had done this so i took a photograph of the pile and texted it to her.I then suggested that she should not really be challenging me and that it's not really something that should have to be said in the first place.Her challenging attitude, allegations that i was accusing her cleaner of lying and overall nonsense that i don't have time for led me to realise she didn't understand my messages because english is not her first language.So I said i would get my Spanish speaking friend to call her to stop the crossed communications.she has now accused me of being racist!I am so fed up the way English people, who, by and large are incredibly tolerant to the multicultural aspect of the UK being abused like this.I would like to take action against this as it is the second time it had happened.Do you know how i go about this.
trish - 30-Sep-14 @ 10:10 AM
I trust that similar and just as harsh punishments is taken for abuse to gingers? Alas, I know I say this in vain as for some reason I will never understand it is perfectly acceptable to tease gingers, but not black people. Colour of skin and colour of hair is caused by the same thing, pigment, so why don't people have the same attitude? It infuriates me that people get expelled for racism in my school, but barely get scolded for abuse to gingers. I wish to live in a world where gingers are truly treated like normal people, and drastic action needs to be taken to enforce such.
WD - 29-Jul-14 @ 4:06 PM
how can the law say anyone can be racial, it seems odd that there is only one race on Earth
oldman - 30-Oct-13 @ 7:12 PM
im doing an essay on racism in the uk i need to know about sub laws?
anon - 11-Jun-13 @ 9:11 AM
My friend has been recently accused of being racist to another but didn't say any racist remark to them. Is there anything in the racism act that can help my friend prove or help their innocence ... Please advise ....
Star - 13-Mar-13 @ 7:17 PM
Part2; Yet a single mother(who moved in the previous month and was hardly at the property) across from me had a whole new set of radiators fitted a week later. When questioned about this, I was told it was the last batch Anyways due to the decline in my health I decided to move on emergency grounds  I thought that finally this will mean the end of a 9 year hell. Little did I know , that it was the begining of a next chapter to life of torment . In 2010, I moved into Oakes street . It seemed to be a nice neighbourhood and the properties where far better quality than Bolton at homes shed like dumps. Little did  i know this was the place where ethnic minorities fear to tread; Well , in actuality , they would fear US, but you know what I'm saying! From the get go The letting staffs at St Vincents based in Old Trafford Manchester ;was very unwelcoming and wasn't enthuisic about placing me there. A week followed by constant calls to them- most never returned or simply ingored  or I was told they where busy.  Eventually I got a call - later i found out they where hoping to place someone else, but was turned down by two people A few days into my move, I stumbled on what was to be my neighbour from hell. The moment I heard her annoying voice screaming about what she bought at the sales to another neighbour, I sensed she was going to present problems, but I remained civil  . As soon as I moved in she  Moved in she seemed to know a great deal about me. She knew I was going to live there alone? My friend helped me move in on numerous occasions . How is it she automatically knew I was to live there alone? Suffice to say; this was to be the start of the next 8 months of hell. Within days ,her and her husband began their stalking like behaviour . At one point, she would appear at my bedroom window ( Which was situated on the ground floor) at 10pm , trying to focus as to what I was up to? . When I opened my front door to ask if I could help ; my partner and I spotted her spying on us in previous days .She became defensive From that point on, I kept my curtains closed. This of course bothered her, so the following few months she decided to making excessive noise- 3 times a day Everyday. I then began to play some music to relax me when the excessive walking, thumping, ground kids running up and down , consumed me. A day later, I recieved a letter from St Vincents about the music. Up until that time I had tolerated this crazy womans nonsense, but took this as an opportunity to alert St Vincents to this. I was immediately ingored by the housing officer (intakes S W). Months was spent enduring the intense ASB as my complaints feel on death ears. St Vincents put all stops out to have sound equipment fitted to capture the excessive noise. I was insulted and made to feel like it was all jn my head ,when I attend meetings with them to complain. Meanwhile the harassment continued and extended to another neighbour -who was an open weed smoker and w
Scandalous - 17-Jun-12 @ 3:35 PM
Racism is definitely rampant and racist organisations would stop at nothing to exercise and exploit it to it's fullest . This is my story : I would like to share ;as well seek advice about the problems I have experienced at the hands of two housing associations based in Bolton Lancashire also bring awareness to the Black community  It all started back in 2002, when I became a tenant of Bolton at home-which is now a housing association. Back then the area which I lived (Farnworth) had a very low percentage of people from ethnic backgrounds;infact they was none within spitting distance of each other . When I moved in,immediately  i came across subtle racist comments . When the neighbour realised I was not going to tolerate it and clearly she was not the sort of person i would like to became friends with; the racism escalated . She  began to turn the whole street against me. This went on for the next 9 years. During which time I suffered in ways you would not imagine  Throughout the entire time Bolton at home tried to lessen the bullying, but not completely put a stop  to it. On top of that ,The 2 bedroom house I lived in did not provide sufficient heating. It Comprised of gas storage heaters. 2 gas fires down stairs (one in the kitchen and dinning room) and one on the landing . Neither was strong enough to brave the cold winters; not to mention the gastronomic expense I encored trying to keep warm on a low income I approached Bolton at home in regards to having radiators fitted and was constantly lied to; stolled or simply ingored. I begged and begged .When I spoke to an independent advise service , Bolton at home tried to cover their tracks by saying I had been added to a program and it should be fitted in April. Behind the scenes the staff was trying hard to convince me to downsize because they wanted to place families into the property when i declined, they turned nasty and when I approached the housing officer weeks later about the radiators . I was told out rightly "no".  The stress of having to live in such appalling conditions came ahead last year when the country experienced the worse winter conditions in a longtime . I suffered my first major panic attack which was followed By severe health complications . I was hospitalised due to experiencing pains in my chest and was found to have a hiatus hernia. I could not eat any solid foods for months and lost a considerable amount of weight within a short space of time. I was so weak;my Bones was protruding from my skin, I was barely recognisable . But through my sickness, I made my last plea to the area manager (initals) M.T to have the radiators installed. Although I had suffered yet another panic attack whilst on the phone to her, she still insisted they had no plans to fit them to my property at that time because although they were not distributing sufficient heat, as far as they where concerned;they are working. Yet a single mother(who moved in the previous month and was h
Scandalous - 17-Jun-12 @ 3:26 PM
Ive been a vicitim of rascial discrimination at the work place for years and have dealy with it for years either by direct obvious actions or indirect racisim. but this time it has gone to far ive worked at this job for 7yrs gone through 3 different owners, and as of now ive had my hours cut by 33 hours every 2 weeks and givin to a fellow employee who has only been working for less then a year. Also have had owner use rascial slurs to my face on more then 4 diff occians
junedog - 2-Mar-12 @ 7:30 PM
Hi, I am a victim of an anti-Polish policy of my employer. I have just read about Racism and the UK Law and I need your advice: where to report such a case of discrimination?
Visitant - 21-Feb-12 @ 8:31 AM
I think racism is a big deal with the day to day running of the business
unkown - 12-Jan-12 @ 2:53 PM
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