Hackney’s Anti Racism Plan: Same journey, new map.


Cllr Carole Williams lead for employment, skills, HR and equalities reveals Hackney's Anti Racism Plan. 

This spring Hackney Council is launching its Anti Racism Plan. It will underpin everything we do in Hackney in our commitment to being an anti racist borough. It will see us lead from the inside out by investigating how inclusive we are within the Council, to how we tackle all forms of racism in our community. 

Now is not the time for more reviews. We need action now and this plan will be our guide. By design, our journey will be collaborative and we will work with communities, individuals and organisations who understand the complexities of racism and the many barriers to equality. 

We are already on our way. In July 2020 we passed our Black Lives Matter motion that commits us to being an anti-racist organisation - one that doesn’t just tackle inequality, but actively fights racism. The motion follows decades of work Hackney has done to be an inclusive borough and brings us up to date with the issues and language of today. We now face the journey of what more we can do and our new Anti Racism Plan gives us a map. 

Five pillars of focus

The plan covers five main areas: Institutional change, Community engagement, Culture and leadership, Accountability and Influence. Within these pillars are principles of community collaboration, engagement and empowerment with a cross-generational and intersectional approach. This is because this work is for everyone and needs to involve us all - not just the victims of racism, but those who can help dismantle it. Our journey will have ever-shifting destinations, yet these pillars will keep us grounded.

Defining racism 

Being anti-racist does not stop at tackling conscious and explicit abuse. The most toxic forms can be insidious and infect daily bias. With this knowledge, we have looked back on past policies to ensure they embrace the language of today which allows us to understand and challenge - all forms of prejudice. 

In July 2020, we refreshed the Council’s Corporate Plan to ensure equality and fairness is central to everything we do and this year, we have included a clear definition between structural and systemic racism. Defining the two helps us appreciate that not all groups can be treated the same. Some will need more support or focus than others due to the hierarchical nature of society which places certain groups above others. 

We have published evidence identifying both the different equality groups and the key inequalities, and thanks to this work we can transparently justify why minoritised groups may receive more support. 

The Removal of Cassland Road Gardens Name Sign  as part of Review, Rename, Reclaim

Work in motion 

We are already leading by example. Most recently, this includes our Review, Rename Reclaim project which has seen us rethink why the names of those involved in the trade of enslaved Africans remain in our public places and has since seen our successful template of community cohesion replicated by the Mayor of London’s Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm. 

Our new Diverse Curriculum: The Black Contribution - now adopted by over 600 schools worldwide, including in Singapore, Jersey and Spain - will be built upon as we confront the lack of diverse education in our schools and champion Black history as British history. Our Improving Outcomes for Young Black men program will see its three year vision take us into 2022, and by working with the Hackney Young Futures Commission and the Youth IAG (Account), we’ll continue to campaign for policing by consent and hold the police responsible for their actions. 

We are the first local authority to pass a comprehensive Windrush motion which commits us to fight for the justice of those affected by the Windrush Scandal. We will also continue to celebrate the contributions of the Windrush generation as we build on the award-winning work of our Windrush Festival. The centerpiece for these celebrations will be the arrival of our Windrush artworks which will be the UK's first public, permanent sculptures to honour the Windsrush legacy.


The road ahead 

Hackney’s Anti Racism Plan will reinvigorate our former achievements and help us create new ones. We know this journey will encounter its diversions - especially as we face the ambiguity of a post-pandemic world and how it has disproportionately affected our minoritised communities. As societal issues are brought to sharper focus thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement, we will need to monitor where those conversations go. This is why engagements with our community will not only be welcome, but necessary so we can lead the way to an anti-racist Hackney.