Top speakers lined up for conference to ‘rethink race’

Voice4Change England (V4CE) today unveiled a high-powered line-up of speakers to speak at a conference in two weeks time.


The ‘Alternative Perspectives: Flipping the Script’ event, taking place on 26 June, is now fully-subscribed but those unable to attend can take part on twitter with a #flipthescript hashtag being used by delegates and speakers.

Full details of this digitially-interactive conference can be found on our blog:

The conference will include a plenary session on ‘Rethinking Race in the 21st Century’ where academic Dr Sanjiv Lingayah will invite reaction to a pamphlet challenging ‘outmoded strategies’ and suggesting new ways of boosting race higher up the political agenda.

His ideas will be thoroughly tested by veteran equalities consultant  Professor Gus John, Joseph Harker (senior editor at The Guardian), Arwa Almari (West Yorkshire Racial Justice Network) and performance poet Awate, who recently demolished a UKIP spokesperson on live TV.

There will also be a plenary session on how Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) groups can develop more effective partnerships and collaborations to survive and prosper in this age of austerity.

Speakers Nero Ughwujabo (Croydon BME Forum), Angela Baugh (Sheffield BME Network), Vivienne Hayes (Women’s Resource Centre), Yvonne Field (Ubele) and Saqib Deshmukh (V4CE) will ask whether BME groups should be competing against each other, how we can demand greater accountability with multi-agency partnerships and what ‘space’ exists for more collaboration?

V4CE will also be running a series of seminars exploring how to achieve better media representation; tackling unfair policing; improving education and supplementary education for BME children; and how to start a social enterprise.

The media seminar will involve speakers Juliette Foster (former Sky News anchor), Eva Simpson (ex-Daily Mirror) and Akua Gyamfi (The British Blacklist), and will be chaired by V4CE policy officer Lester Holloway who was formerly Editor of New Nation and is a presenter on Colourful Radio.

The debate follows comments by comedian Lenny Henry, who urged broadcasters to employ more BME staff and even suggested a boycott of the BBC licence fee, and Sir Trevor McDonald who warned of an ‘Apartheid’ system developing in the mainstream media.

The seminar will ask why BME representation in the media matters, how we can improve diversity and what the role of BME-specific media is.

A policing seminar will grapple with the issue of over-policing in BME communities, with stop and search and the anti-terror laws coming under the microscope. The panellists will be Patrick Williams (Manchester university), Estelle Boulay (Newham Monitoring Project), Taher Gulamhussein (Islamic Human Rights Commission), and spoken word artist Shareefa Energy.

Questions they will address include asking what impact the Police and Crime Commissioners and the Mayor’s Office has had; the best strategies for tackling gangs; and how we challenge the fall-out of the war on terror in terms of over-policing?

A seminar around setting up social enterprises will explore whether this is the answer to solving disproportionate BME unemployment, how people can get started, and what support the state can provide.

The confirmed speakers are Charles Ejogo (Dragon’s Den winner), Anthony Brightly (Black Slate musician and social entrepreneur), John Mayford (Olmec), and Nathalie Richards (also an entrepreneur). It will be chaired by businessman Iqbal Wahhab (founder of Cinnamon Club and ex-chair of the government’s work and pensions ethnic minority advisory board).

And an education seminar will look at the marketisation of education and the fallout of the recent ‘Trojan Horse’ episode in Birmingham. Speakers include Barbara Nea (Race on the Agenda), Pascale Vassie (NRSE) and Kristine Wellington (Hackney CVS). The session will be chaired by writer and activist Amrit Wilson.

Registration for this free all-day conference, with a Caribbean meal, is unfortunately closed due to demand however V4CE will be recording the event and publishing a report.