Investigating racial incidents

23/05/2024

The Archbishops' Racial Justice Commission Won Seok Kim

Issued by the Archbishops’ Commission for Racial Justice

Over the coming months, the Archbishops' Commission for Racial Justice (ACRJ) will be investigating racial incidents in the Church of England.

The Commission will explore whether systems are in place to address experiences of racism and the extent to which existing policies and procedures are effective.

Complaints Handling was a key recommendation in the 2020 Report: From Lament To Action (FLTA): The Report of the Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce.

The Commission is working to assess the impact that racism has on the wellbeing, sense of belonging, participation, and/or vocation of Global Majority Heritage (GMH) / UK Minoritised Ethnic (UKME) communities in the Church. The goal is to recommend changes to ensure that those reporting racial incidents can do so safely, knowing their complaints will be taken seriously and addressed effectively.

Archbishops' Commission for Racial Justice logo

Persons in GMH/UKME communities who have experienced racism or those in the wider Church community who have knowledge of such, are encouraged to contact Race Equality First.

Race Equality First has been appointed to gather information on experiences of raising complaints or grievances through existing church processes, or about people’s reasons for not making use of existing processes. Race Equality First is an independent agency recognised for tackling racial discrimination and will guarantee reliability, confidentiality, and anonymity as desired in such a sensitive investigation.

A racial incident is defined as any incident or alleged incident which involves behaviour, act or a series of actions by a person or group which is perceived by the individual to be motivated, wholly or partly, by racial hostility or racial prejudice towards them or others. Such behaviour may include: bullying or intimidation; verbal abuse, insults, or racist jokes; sharing of racially offensive comments or material; exclusion from normal conversation or activities; malicious complaints; verbal or physical threats or attack; or encouraging others to commit any such acts.

The Race Equality Foundation, a national charity addressing racial inequality in public services, with a strong research capacity, will conduct an independent review and analysis of experiences within the Church. The anticipated outcome is recommendations for changes that ensure that people who encounter an experience of racism can speak up, secure in the knowledge that their complaint will be taken seriously, handled sensitively and that effective redress is available.

While Race Equality First will not investigate complaints and grievances towards appropriate resolutions as part of this exercise, those who contact them would be able to access additional support: confidential counselling, independent advice to explore options, and/or make contact with the Racial Justice Unit.

“Racism should not be tolerated in the Church, or anywhere,” emphasised the Church’s director of racial justice, Guy Hewitt. “Sadly, anecdotal evidence suggested that such occurrences are more common than appreciated.”

“For our GMH/UKME communities, being stereotyped, overlooked, or excluded, or facing harassment, hostile comments or microaggression are an all-too-common experience. Leaving such behaviours unchallenged or brushed under the carpet is seriously damaging both to individuals and our faith community.”

Race Equality First should be contacted on 029 2048 6207.

The Archbishops’ Commission for Racial Justice reports to the Archbishops every six months with recommendations to help the Archbishops fulfil their commitments to identify, respond to, and root out systemic racism in the Church.

The full membership of the Archbishops’ Commission for Racial Justice:

  • Chair: The Rt Hon Lord (Paul) Boateng, Former Cabinet Minister and High Commissioner to South Africa
  • Professor Anthony Reddie, Department of Theology, University of Oxford
  • The Revd Canon Dr Chigor Chike, Former Chair, Anglican Minority Ethnic Network (AMEN); Vicar, Forest Gate (Emmanuel with St Peter) Upton Cross, Chelmsford Diocese
  • Professor Duncan Morrow, Department of Politics, Ulster University
  • Dame Melanie Dawes, Chief Executive, Ofcom
  • Professor Mike Higton, Department of Theology, Durham University
  • Lord (Nat) Wei of Shoreditch, Serial Social Entrepreneur and Social Reformer
  • Dr Nirmala Pillay, School of Law, Leeds Beckett University
  • The Revd Canon Patricia Hillas, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons
  • The Revd Canon Dr Philip Anderson, Canon Precentor, Liverpool Cathedral
  • The Rt Revd Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Bishop of Dover
  • The Revd Sonia Barron, Diocesan Director of Vocations, Diocese of Lincoln