Defining Racial Harassment and Racism
The Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act 2010 states that harassment is unwanted behaviour related to a person’s relevant protected characteristic(s), of which race is one, having the purpose or effect of:
- violating the other person's dignity, or
- creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person.
Racial harassment can take many different forms, from verbal abuse and physical attacks, to subtle racial micro-aggressions, or everyday racial slights and degradations. Simply put, racial harassment is an expression of racism.
The UWS Race Equality Working Group define racism as “the assignment of people to an inferior category and the determination of their social, economic, civic, and human standing on that basis.” (Ref: Tommy J. Curry, The Man-Not: Race, Class, Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood, 2017)
They also recognise the definitions of racism and racial harassment adopted by the Advance HE project steering group on Addressing racial harassment in colleges and universities which expresses racism as a persistent, if not routine and systematic, feature of life in Britain, as contributing to the organisation of society in ways that structurally disadvantage Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people, and as experienced in a wide variety of ways, ranging from everyday banter to violence and intimidation, noting the prevalence of anti-Muslim racism (islamophobia), antisemitism, and anti-Black and anti-Asian racism.
The statement draws on Ashe and Nazroo’s (2016) framing of institutional racism, and further unpacking of this concept by Young (in Davidson et al., 2018), to contextualise the power relationships in institutions that lead to racism, such as the creation of rules, customs, processes and practices created without regard to the potential impact on people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups, and decision making within institutions that reflects the preferences, priorities, social norms, values and needs of the decision makers.