Race Relations Act 1976

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Jacob Adshead
194ISS: Race and Racism in Britain. Coursework one
The Race Relations Act 1976 and its impact on Race and Racism in Britain

When studying Race and Racism in Britain the pivotal turning point of race relations is the passing of the Race Relations Act on the 22nd of November 1976. The Race Relations Act made discrimination unlawful on the grounds of race, colour, nationality and ethnicity. For me this point in history, equality of race is formally dealt with, as it is the first law introduced to ensure that racial and ethnic discrimination is forbidden in Britain. The Race Relations Act made it unlawful to discriminate against a person on racial grounds in employment, education and in the provision of goods and services. This act was only the start of eliminating racial discrimination; however it was the foundation of it all and is the reason behind such improvement in equality today. The 1976 Act was amended, not replaced, by the Race Relations Amendment Act introduced in 2000. After the 1976 Act was presented, racial discrimination did not automatically vanish, however it made it clear to the vast majority of people within Britain that discrimination has no place in society and that changes had to be made. Making discrimination unlawful within employment coincides with the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975, where by it was illegal to discriminate women in the workplace, such as, selection for a job, training, promotion, work practices or dismissal, with the only difference being based on racial terms rather than gender. This brought equality in the workplace and introduced more rights to ethnic minority groups. The Act also makes it unlawful for public bodies to discriminate while carrying out any of their duties. Public bodies are obliged to make sure their employment procedures and service delivery do not have a disproportionate impact on particular ethnic or national groups. The Act, based upon education, forbids the discrimination of ethnic minority pupils, in terms of non-admission to the school, college or university, inequality once within the school and also abuse from other pupils and teachers due to their race or nationality. In addition, discrimination in the provision of goods, services and facilities was made unlawful. It is forbidden for anyone within the industry of providing goods or services to discriminate someone on the grounds of ethnicity or nationality. Within all these fields race relations is attempted to be improved, and by doing so equality is acknowledged and ethnicity is somewhat striving to become a factor that is non-existent in society and the workplace. Race Relations simply means the relationships between individuals from different ethnic groups. Obviously the Race Relations Act was intended to put forward a new way of thinking towards various ethnic minority groups and to look at them as equals. As I said early, that the Act introduced in 1976 was the turning point, as it were, of racial discrimination, as it was the first law opposing racial discrimination. However, the number of riots protesting against racial inequality had risen after the Law was presented. The 1980’s sparked a series of riots in mainly afro-Caribbean areas, protesting against discrimination and poverty. With the spur of the riots throughout the 1980’s, it could be said that this proved that the Race Relations Act did not perform its task, which was to eliminate racial discrimination. As we know, this act was amended in 2000 to enhance the Act by ensuring there were no exceptions, such as the police, and other public bodies, who were initial exempt from the Law. On the contrary, what can be said about the riots is that the police, due to their exemption from the Act, discriminated against black people, through the ‘sus’ law and thus performing random searches on people who they believe to be suspicious. The police would stop and search people they believed to be suspicious, however the number of...
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