Defending Multiculturalism

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2008 National Black Members' Conference
15 September 2007

Conference notes that recent months have seen sections of the media and politicians attempt to discredit multiculturalism by holding it responsible for various social problems.

Multiculturalism is the view that everybody should be able to live as they please, with the culture they want, so long as this does not harm others. It is a reality of life for millions of people in Britain, especially within Black communities. The alternative is to force everybody to live according to some imposed cultural ‘norms’.

A key plank of the attacks on multiculturalism holds that as Black people we segregate ourselves, and are therefore responsible for the deprivation and discrimination that we experience. Areas with huge white majority populations are not considered socially problematic in the same way. This myth has been given credibility by the Commission on Integration and Cohesion.

Conference believes that recent research from Prof Danny Dorling of Sheffield University and Dr Ludi Simpson of Manchester University, who produced a report for the government itself, actually reveals that the opposite is true. Integration between Britain’s communities has increased over the past decade.

In reality, multiculturalism does work. London, Leeds, Manchester, Glasgow and Birmingham for example, are culturally diverse and economically successful parts of Britain.

UNISON has launched a national campaign to defend and promote multiculturalism called: ‘One Society, Many Cultures’ producing materials, stickers, t-shirts, web site and newsletter.

Conference instructs the National Black Members Committee (NBMC) to work with the National Executive Council (NEC) to:

1.Continue the joint UNISON and National Assembly Against Racism (NAAR) campaign ‘One Society, Many Cultures’ in order to celebrate and defend multiculturalism;

2.Develop a strategy to take this initiative out to branches and regions across UNISON;

3.Run a UNISON fringe event at Labour Party Conference and TUC Congress promoting the positive contributions of multiculturalism and Black members to society.