Harrow Council for Justice
a campaigning national organisation - promoting the principle of 'different but equal'

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    Our positions
  • people are not blind to colour in a colour conscious society
  • racism affects black and white people both but differently
  • racial harassment is anti human rights - more than hate crime
  • equal opportunity is to practise 'different but equal'
Different but Equal - firm basis for 'integration'

The HCJ has repeatedly articulated that integration to us means groups of people coming together for common good, participating in the society on equal basis and respecting that different norms, values, beliefs and needs are equally important. Integration does not mean assimilation, surrendering background or heritage.

Any dynamic society must change, exchange and move. Our maturity as a nation depends on how we resolve the divisive situations, like those because of the 'black and white Britain' or ethnicity or multiculturalism or 'once an immigrant, always an immigrant'.

Integration! yes, but on what basis? Either we face up to the socio-political challenges with justice and fairness or we will remain "Britain as shabby and stagnant, as drab and decayed as an East European satellite" (Margaret Thatcher 1977).

The Harrow Council for Justice welcomes the calls to move away from the dynamics of multiculturalism and promote integration instead. We take the position that Britain has been a multiethnic and multicultural society and should have the capacity to include all groups of people, cultural or otherwise, without tagging them or expecting them to ditch their backgrounds. We support integration but on the basis of treating people as 'different but equal'.

The HCJ believes that language is power and words create structures which heavily influence institutional processes and practices.

The institutionally defined terminology such as the 'diversity', ‘minority’ and 'BAME' along with the supporting adjectives like 'ethnic', 'visible minorities' etc promotes a sense of  segregation in terms of  'once an immigrant, always an immigrant' which is not  helpful in building the ‘big society’. These terms also set certain expectations, like the ‘host and guest' relationships, assimilation, needing an apology from the community for the wrong-doings of some from that community, thankfulness, obedience and so on.

Such a language and whatever flows from it obscures the fact that the so called 'BAME'/'minority' people are British where they may look different but their participation in socio-cultural, political and economic life and their needs, different they might be, are equally important. What is the justification for referring the black people who have been living in the cities like Liverpool for the past 200 years as BAME? The power-loaded terminology and its implications create resentment within the communities and seriously hinder the process of integration.

For effective integration and a united Britain, we need to observe and practise the principle that different groups of people are equally important, rather than confining ourselves and our work to the limited scope of the 'minorities', visible, cultural or otherwise.

We also need to challenge those, whoever they may be, whose interests are not well served by achieving the real integration since it damages their chances of riding on the back of the ‘minorities’, to flourish within the equal opportunity structure, to exercise 'divide and rule', to acquire marginal funding and positions, and to secure votes.
Our intervention: Hazel Blears, Home Office minister for policing, security and community safety in 2005, wished to rename ethnic minority groups along US lines. Ms Blears, then head of a government commission on how to better integrate minorities, said that she would ask whether they would rather be termed “British-Asian”, or “Indian-British” rather than “Muslim” or “Asian”.

The HCRJ did not support such a categorisation because having groups of British people as Ms Blears suggested will create resentment and seriously hinder the process of integration. That we can do without adding this or that to 'British' and need to send out a strong message that we might look different and have different needs but we are all British. One wonders whether we wish a united Britain or a divided Britain where there are many brands of British people.

The HCJ position was widely supported – below are few examples:

A message from Michael Howard, the leader of the opposition at the time, said "The Conservatives believe there are a large number of people of Asian descent living in the United Kingdom, and they mostly think of themselves as British. They don't need a Government minister to tell them how to describe themselves”.   “Dear members of Harrow Council for Racial Justice, I wholly agree with you”:
Baroness Nicholson
MEP at the time
  “I support your view on this matter”:
Jean Lambert MEP, London,Green Party at the time
  “I could not agree more and will oppose such a divisive move”: Richard Barnes, London Assembly Member for Ealing and Hillingdon at the time