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York’s first anti-racism summit is a ‘collective call to action’ for the city 

Published: 30 January 2024

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3 people smiling at the camera in front of an equality banner

York St John University has proudly supported York’s first anti-racism summit as strategic work continues to fight racism and discrimination in the city. The summit forms part of the five-year strategy to help York become the first anti-racist city in the North of England.   

The strategy was developed in partnership with York St John’s Institute for Social Justice (ISJ), who contributed to a report which found that racism in York was “casual, systemic, and structural.” The strategy was officially launched in summer 2023.  

Held at Bishopthorpe Palace on 24 January, the anti-racism summit was co-hosted by the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell and Haddy Njie chair of Inclusive Equal Rights UK (IERUK). It sought to bring together decision-makers to make a positive stand and take collective action against racism and hate within the City of York.  

York St John was represented by Professor Matthew Reason, Director of the Institute for Social Justice, and Dr Steven Hirschler and Dr Cíntia Silva Huxter. Drs Hirschler and Silva Huxter conducted research which informed the City of York Council’s development of the anti-racism strategy in partnership with IERUK.   

Funded by an ISJ Community Research Grant, the researchers conducted a qualitative study of people’s interactions with health, education, and policing services. Their report uncovered individuals’ experiences of racism and helped to ensure that the strategy is inclusive and evidenced.  

Based at the Enterprise Centre on our Lord Mayor’s Walk campus, IERUK are led by Haddy Njie and York St John University’s Equality and Diversity Adviser Jake Furby. 

They said: “Despite a wave of support for our strategy last year, we also saw threatening and racist responses, which highlights how urgent constructive dialogue and engagement is to ensure we make a lasting stand and promote inclusivity. 

“Only by working together, can we make a lasting difference.” 

Professor Karen Bryan OBE, Vice Chancellor of York St John University said: “I am really proud of colleagues’ work with IERUK to shine a light on racial inequality in our city.  

“At York St John we are supporting our students, staff, and the wider communities we serve by actively challenging prejudice and working to ensure equality of experience.

"The summit has provided a valuable opportunity to come together with our partners across the City of York to foster dialogue and cooperation towards eradicating racism” 

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, who co-hosted the event and chaired a Q&A session, said: “The Anti-Racism summit at Bishopthorpe Palace stands as a testament to our commitment to justice and equality.

"It is a collective call to action, reminding us that the eradication of racism and hate in our society is not just a goal, but a moral imperative, essential for the flourishing of all humanity."  

The summit coincided with the UN Education and Peace Day, and ended with an invitation for organisations to sign an anti-racism pledge. The University is a proud signatory of the pledge which is designed to send a clear and consistent message that racism and discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated in York.  

You can sign the York anti-racist pledge here 

Image l-r: Dr Cíntia Silva Huxter; Haddy Njie; Dr Steven Hirschler

Image credit: Tom Jackson

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