Brap – Back to the Future? Inderjit Dehal
Going way back in time • Brap established in 1998 • A third sector agency established by the main public agencies in the City • The board and funders: City Council, TEC, Health Authority, BVSC, Focus Housing • An interesting concept – a private limited company pushing the boundaries of race equality practice led by key public agencies in the city
The context • The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry published February 2008 – Institutional racism on the agenda • Realisation that Birmingham - the UK’s second biggest city - was fast becoming a majority ethnic city • Growing recognition of the need to address gaping inequalities between ethnic groups and of the diversity within and across groups.
The environment • Paternalistic, divide and rule attitude toward BME communities, which “Community Leaders bought” into • BME Communities represented through their leaders • Race/inequality a marginal “special interest” issue • A passion for simple, often bolt on, and ineffective solutions to complex issues
The Birth of Brap – radical for it’s time • Non-ethnically aligned engagement • Issue based approach • Advocacy over representation • Looking beyond leaders to new models of engagement • Building capacity • Addressing issues seriously – using the evidence… • Challenging the status quo
The resistance • Leadership of the key public agencies • BME leaders • Fragmentation of BME communities – no single unifying narrative • Established Race equality officers in key positions
Key Successes • Race equality on the map & exposed the tokenistic • Challenged and shook the status quo • Moved beyond community leaders • Some agencies began taking the issue seriously – a dialogue beyond the simplistic • Innovation - SIREN
The Lessons • Don’t under-estimate the strength and power of vested interests • The difficulties associated with being so closely tied to public agencies in the City • The underlying principles were correct • The models of engagement were too crude
The hanging questions • Can we think beyond race? • Can we think beyond our own narrow interest to deliver equality for all? • Can we develop genuinely democratic processes of engagement? • Have we moved on?