Investigating Racial Incidents

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.

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.

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.

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