The campaign group, Inclusive Equal Rights UK (IERUK) has called for ‘constructive dialogue’ after receiving racist and threatening responses to its launch of a five-year anti-racism strategy for York.
Local media outlets reported they had to ‘sadly martial’ their comment sections, with one editor saying the comments in response to the story he posted on Twitter were ‘horrendous.’
The five-year strategy is a response to quantitative data collected by researchers at IERUK alongside a qualitative study by academics from York St John University.
Chair of IERUK, Haddy Njie, put forward the motion for York to be the North’s first anti-racist city after experiencing a ‘life-altering’ racist attack in the city.
A national tabloid ran articles in response to the strategy, with one headline declaring ‘outrage’ at the strategy, ‘funded by Labour council’ that concludes the city is ‘racist.’
Haddy Njie said: “We are disappointed and dismayed about some of the abusive responses we have had to the publication of the report. This includes one national tabloid which has printed numerous inaccuracies in a bid to undermine the work we are doing collectively in the city.
“We would like to make it very clear: we are not saying that all of the people of York are racist or that York is a racist city. But our evidence-based research has demonstrated that the city has some serious issues of casual and systemic racism.
“It is also important to say that we have received a great deal of support from many people and organisations in York, as well as the acknowledgement that these issues exist and need to be addressed. This gives us real optimism that we can work together to bring people together in the city to find answers.”
The tabloid also said the strategy’s figures on the size of York’s ethnic minority population were inaccurate and ‘misleading.’
On 21 October 2021, all cross-party City of York councillors approved the motion: Making York an Anti-Racist and Inclusive City.
Haddy Njie said: “It’s distressing and disappointing that the tabloid is seemingly scoring political points in an attempt to dismiss this important work. The analysis in the strategy has been written and peer reviewed by experienced academics.”
The IERUK report states York has an approximate 14% BAME population (that is, non-white British) which includes White Irish, White Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller and White Other, but the tabloid says the 2021 census puts the figure at just 7.2%.
In a statement this morning, IERUK said their figures were correct as the statistics in their research were divided into White British and White.
It states: “White people are defined as people who are for example, Eastern European, Irish, Traveller/Gypsy, and individuals who may have one white parent. This category falls within the definition of a minority ethnic group and as part of the Black, Asian and other Minority Ethnicity (BAME). According to the 2021 census, there is a population of White Irish of 0.6%, White Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller (0.2%) and White other at 6.2. These added with 7.2% agrees with IERUK’s approximation of 14% of BAME population (non-white British).
“We made this definition of White British and White minority clear, both in our preliminary report in February 2023, and in the strategy published last week.”
IEURK states that all the data was drawn from a combination of sources including the council, Ward data, the 2021 census and Freedom of Information requests. Reference data is clearly found in the five-year strategy report, which is available on its website.
IERUK has called for all stakeholders in the city to continue a positive dialogue.
Haddy added: “We encourage individuals to stand against racism, promote inclusivity, and engage in constructive dialogue to foster understanding and unity. We are working with public and private sector organisations and agencies from across the city. I believe that York stands united in standing up against hate and racism.”