Just a thought – The (Im)possibility of Equality: Can it really be achieved?
I start by thanking the speakers for their brilliant thoughts on this tortured issue of race equality that is still topical several years after the first Race Relations Act was passed in 1968. Their views have been as divergent but no less important to the cause of achieving full equality.
Maxine James and her team at Streatham Ethnic Minority Forum deserve our praise for raising this issue and formulating it in a debate; we need that constant reminder that though we are getting closer to resolving the issue we are still very far away.
What we have learnt today is that there must be a multifaceted approach to considering how to eradicate race inequality and that no one approach is more relevant than the other. A voluntary approach that seeks to appeal to the enlightened self-interest of those who wield power and use it in a pernicious way against other humans should work in a civilised society;but there is also a moral duty from our elected representatives – to provide a more equal United Kingdom where the colour of one’s skin should not determine their standing in the community and where disadvantage based on colour must be banished.
In the past, discriminatory practices in gender, religion, age, disability, sexual orientation and race have not been taken seriously but now with greater awareness and campaigns, progress has been made in dealing with discrimination on these strands. Now, the standard for judging the level of civilisation of any country is based on how the progress they have made to achieve equality and how progressive the country is. In Britain, race equality is moving gradually from the margins into the mainstream.
The problem that remains is that these issues are not framed in ways that permit rational discussion and the emotional noise and adversarial posturing of politicians and their parties get in the way of finding lasting solutions.
The campaigns will continue and with the campaigns might come redress and recriminations, but we must also continue to be vigilant lest people lapse intoa state of complacency against these crimes of discrimination.
We know that an unequal society is a society that is not in balance and therefore not performing at its optimal level; we know that the search for equality has to continue and will continue.
We must view this march towards equality as a continuum and hope that it will happen one day, even if later than sooner.
And for as long as we are alive, we must campaign for racial equality because our campaign is what will speed the achievement if at all.
We must work towards finding that magic key that will help us unlock the door that will allow full race equality to be achieved. We need to do it for posterity, for our children and for our children’s children
Houses of Parliament
14th November 2018