End Racism This Generation – an evaluation30 May 2014
The End Racism This Generation campaign was a pledge-based campaign from the race equality organisation Runnymede Trust which launched publicly in September 2013 and ran until the end of May 2014. This was an important time to push anti-racist messaging, because of a rising anti-immigrant rhetoric in the months leading up to the 2014 European elections. This took place against a backdrop of reduced funding and political focus on race equality work following the change in government in 2010.
The objectives of the campaign were:
- to raise awareness that racism and race inequality are still problems in the UK;
- to encourage people to make changes to their behaviour, at an individual, organisational or institutional level to further race equality;
- to publicly share the pledges for action so that they hold the pledger to account and to spread practical ideas about how to tackle racism.
Runnymede Trust is a race equality thinktank, established in 1968. Throughout its history, Runnymede has been producing evidence and analysis about how to make Britain a more racially just society. The End Racism This Generation campaign represented a shift in approach for Runnymede. Although the messaging for the campaign was firmly evidence-based, the activities involved much more outreach, more public-facing work and more focus on encouraging practical action through movement-building and network-building.
The End Racism This Generation campaign built on learnings from a previous Runnymede project, Generation 3.0, which explored changing attitudes to race and racism by creating spaces for older and younger people to share their experiences and views on how we might end racism in a generation.
The main funding of the campaign was from a European Commission Anti-Discrimination Progress Action Grant, running from June 2013 to May 2014. Co-funding for this grant was provided by the Robert Gavron Trust. Smaller and in-kind donations were given by B3 Living, The Red Room, Unison South West and the Women’s Resource Centre.
The End Racism This Generation campaign was originally envisioned as a three-year long campaign, with the intention to secure funding for the second and third years during the first year that was funded with the European Commission grant.
As well as a general public audience, the campaign targeted some specific groups and sectors to encourage practical action to tackle race inequality. These were: young people, teachers and youth workers, NGOs, small and medium businesses, local government officials and heath professionals.
Campaign activities during the year included:
- the building of a campaign website to capture pledges for action: www.end-racism.org
- online and offline events, some targeting specific sectors
- the production of films exploring the intersectionality between different types of discrimination: race and gender, race and age, race and sexuality, race and religion and race and disability.
- the formation of Advisory Groups
- surveys of attitudes to race issues across different ethnic groups
- production of case studies showing how action to tackle racism can have practical impacts
- the launch of a race blog site called Race Card: www.racecard.org.uk
- dissemination of campaign messages through social media
- structured email communications to supporters
The campaign achieved impressive reach – with people seeing campaign messaging over 6 million times – and built a supporter base of nearly 20,000 individuals and nearly 500 organisations.
The campaign successfully created spaces for discussion of racism. Because of the personal and complicated nature of the issue, we found that events which provided a safe space and a significant amount of time to unpick ideas and exchange a range of views and perspectives were needed to achieve meaningful discussion. Data from evaluation forms demonstrates that the End Racism events had potential to achieve some attitude shift, not necessarily in terms of radically changing someone’s views from racist to anti-racist, but rather in increasing people’s understanding of the scale and persistent nature of the problem of racism, and also increasing people’s comprehension of the idea that structural racism can operate at many levels of someone’s life.
The launch of the Race Card blog site was another appropriate tool for such a campaign as it enabled the exploration of race issues in depth from different perspectives, as well as providing a steady stream of fresh content that facilitated a steady growth in followers and reach.
The campaign successfully connected different race equality actors together and provided opportunities for sharing and learning. For example, over 60% of participants of our youth events reported having made connections that would be useful in their subsequent anti-racist work.
We connected grassroots activists with people in positions of influence, whether this was including activists alongside politicians in traditional panel discussions, inviting people to take part in an alternative model of participatory forum debate, or connecting activists with the Race Equality Minister through our online Twitter Takeover event.
The campaign gave a platform for the promotion of existing race equality resources, including Runnymede’s own evidence-based research, other academic work and educational resources. It also created opportunities for the sharing of best practice about tackling racism within different sectors, for example at events specifically for local government professionals, health professionals or trainee teachers, as well as offering targeted support to people from minority ethnic backgrounds through small business start-up surgeries delivered through the campaign’s partnerships with Natwest.
Through the campaign, Runnymede tried to start conversations about the intersectionality between different types of discrimination. The period of the campaign coincided with an increasing discussion of the idea of intersectionality beyond black feminism circles and into the “mainstream” feminist movement, and Runnymede was able to contribute to this momentum through the production of a film “When sexism and racism collide” and through an event of the same name in Bristol and an event exploring the racist stererotypes around sexual desire called “Race and Sex” in Manchester.
On issues of racism interacting with homophobia, dementia, Islamophobia and age, these discussions are less advanced within White-dominated groups and the campaign was able to use Runnymede’s networks and connections to further these ideas.
The growing number of pledges, and the emergence of a significant number of pledges of strategic significance indicate that the campaign pushed people to commit to action that they wouldn’t otherwise have done.
We collected some inspiring stories from people and organisations confirming that the campaign had real-life impact. And although the number of stories of actual real-life change was not huge, the fact that we did collect some of these in the first year indicates that the pledge as a tool is effective. A selection of quotes are below:
- “Meeting other race equality activists through End Racism This Generation reinvigorated my passion and resolve. I felt like I was part of something bigger and this made me braver.”
- “Hearing people’s stories, narratives and opinions on the issue of racism has opened my eyes to what I can do, and will do.”
- “Being involved has brought the issue back to being a live priority again. Thank you. It’s helped garner and re- energised those I have engaged with.”
- “After realising that kids in rural Derbyshire risked not understanding what multi-ethnic Britain really looks like, I pledged to ask my local library to increase the number of books for young people with stories from different races and religions. It worked! The library did get new stock in!”
- “I chair the City Council’s Equality Commission, which is part of the scrutiny procedure to appraise the council’s policies regarding equalities. The Commission invites people from across communities to advocate for protected characteristics. I found that the blog I wrote for the End Racism This Generation campaign, about the current state of race inequality in Nottingham, really shifted the level of the debate in these meetings. It seemed that many people operating at a local government level didn’t actually understand that we’re not starting with a level playing field on race equality. Having an independent platform and channel to write these messages really helped spread the word about this.”
- “Being part of the End Racism This Generation campaign has helped give the School of Social Science students and staff a sense of their own identity. This is the first campaign we have ever taken up and linked in with the academic study of racism and discrimination. It has been an invaluable way of giving the students a clear idea of how what they learn translates into active participation in the challenge to inequalities. Thanks.”
- “I work for a local charity based in Hertfordshire. My role is to work and support BME communities across two districts (Broxbourne and East Herts), identify their needs, make links with local stakeholders, empower local individuals and most importantly build real bridges, create effective partnership, promote equality and challenge prejudice. Being involved in the campaign helped me to work with similarly minded organisations, look at the issue of racism locally and think collectively about ways of addressing it. As a result we have delivered number of events and initiatives in the Borough of Broxbourne, we have worked with local newspaper and we are hoping that the campaign has helped to change, at least in some case, people’s perception on racism.”
Overall, the analysis of the first year of the campaign paints a picture of a programme of work with huge potential cut short. The time period for a campaign with the goal of attitude and behaviour change and with such broad scope would need to be at least three years if not more. In contrast, while the year of funded activities was June 2013 to May 2014, the public launch of the campaign was only in September 2013. In addition, an organisational restructure at Runnymede in the early months of 2014 stalled some campaign activities.
Thinking about your own pledge and crafting it according to your individual or organisational context was an appropriate action, given that psychological commitment and practical action at all levels is necessary to end racism. However the pledge as a campaign action proved to be quite “high bar”, which made it most effective at events where the action-taking was framed within a discussion, or in one-to-one discussions between organisations and the campaign team. This limited the growth in the numbers and meant that online spread of the pledge tool was minimal. An online button saying “I want to help end racism” to instantly capture the email addresses of interested supporters would have been useful. These people could then have received structured and inspiring email communications urging them and supporting them to make a pledge.
The campaign sparked conversations about intersectionality with other equality NGOs and initiated discussion about race equality within the business, education, health and local government sectors. However trying to cover this range of issues and cover many different geographic locations across England and Wales led to somewhat of a lack of focus for the campaign. The limited time and resources for each of these areas limited the depth of the analysis, investigation and alliances that could be developed about each topic and in each geographical area.
Runnymede worked effectively in partnership for the delivery of the campaign, which was crucial given a certain mismatch between the hugely ambitious scope of the campaign with the size of the organisation and our lack of local outreach structures. The campaign could have benefited from an even more strategic approach to partnership, with more agreements made early on in the campaign at a senior management level between Runnymede and other organisations. More formal partnerships between Runnymede and other national race equality organisations may well have strengthened the campaign. More formal partnerships between Runnymede and other equality NGOs could have led to more substantive work on intersectionality as opposed to just beginning conversations through the production of films.
With these learnings in mind, we also make the following recommendations for any subsequent campaigns similar to End Racism This Generation:
- Regional and local events should be designed with the aim of a legacy of increased anti-racism activity in that area, which may point to a model of several events and activities in one place as opposed to a scattergun approach of one event in lots of different places.
- For a campaign so reliant on inspiring action from other organisations, and one dependent on connections and networks with local race equality organisations, the idea of empowering and supporting those organisations should underpin the campaign strategy. The design of campaign activities for a campaign like End Racism This Generation should have be informed by what these local race equality organisations say will best support them. If a campaign is grant funded, this scoping activity should be included in the application.
- Changing attitudes on racism can be achieved through creating interactions between people who understand the issue in depth and people who don’t. Campaign activities should be designed to enable these interactions to happen.
- Anti-racist events should have clearly defined objectives, with recognition that different audiences may want something different from an event about racism. If the objective of the event is to teach people who are new to race issues more about them, then this may put more experienced race equality activists in the role of “expert”. This needs to be made clear to these experts, and it may be appropriate to pay for this expertise. Otherwise, it can be draining for experienced race equality activists to always be in the role of explaining or even justifying the existence of racism. Events should invigorate existing activists as well as teaching new activists about the issues.
- Anti-racism campaigning should include youth-led activities which are built on the recognition that the lived experience of minority ethnic young people is valid, even if that experience and understanding is not the same as that of older race equality activists.
- There needs to be careful consideration to the campaign action a participant to an event will be asked to take and how equipped they will be to do so as a result of the event.
- Wherever possible, outputs should be created from events to share with an audience beyond the participants of the event itself.
- Partnerships that connect a campaign with networks of the target audience are extremely valuable.
- To deliver a three-year campaign of such ambitious scope, a much more sustainable funding model would be needed from the beginning. In order to make the funding model for a similar campaign less precarious, it could be possible to split elements of the campaign into different broad activities, like public awareness raising, service delivery and policy or advocacy work and apply for smaller grants from different grant-making bodies to spread the risk of not getting grants more evenly.
- A piece of work that would hugely benefit Runnymede and the wider race equality sector would be some focus group research exploring in depth how different audiences respond to different types of messaging about race and racism. For example, is it helpful to share stats about high BME youth unemployment with minority ethnic youths, or is this disempowering? Is it inspiring to share stories of best practice with existing race equality activists? This research could also explore which communication techniques are most effective – for example personal stories, case studies of best practice, statistics or films.
Even if Runnymede does not run a similar campaign in the future, this learning is still relevant to the organisation. Research-focused projects from Runnymede will have more impact if they are developed with specific change objectives for a specific target audience in mind from the beginning. This will enable the use of communications techniques inspired from the End Racism This Generation campaign which can achieve the reach and engagement necessary to achieve the change.
Runnymede would like to deeply thank all of the individuals and organisations who supported the End Racism This Generation campaign, whether you contributed by pledging and delivering actions, sharing information with your networks or by hosting and attending events.