A CHARTER setting out Oxford's commitment to becoming a 'truly anti-racist city' has been published.

The anti-racism charter was launched by Oxford City Council on Friday last week (October 30), and , universities, schools, businesses and individuals are being asked to sign it.

The document sets out a commitment to ending what it describes as 'systemic racism' - the idea that the lives of Oxford's individual residents can be disadvantaged because institutions will treat them differently due to their race.

Oxford City Council's race and equality champion Shaista Aziz said: “For Oxford to become a truly anti-racist city a lot of hard and uncomfortable work has to be undertaken by everyone - because anti-racism is work everyone needs to do and own.

"Racial justice is social justice, we are seeing this more clearly than ever with the Covid 19 crisis and the disproportionate deaths of black people and ethnic minorities across the country. It is only correct that the council states its clear intent to action and embed anti-racism in all its functions and the council opens an ongoing dialogue with the residents of Oxford.

"This is what is being launched today in the form of this charter."

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Pledges in the charter include having 'difficult and sometimes uncomfortable conversations about what it means in practice to be anti-racist'.

It also includes recognising that racism can be unconscious, and that it can be practised by institutions as well as individuals.

The charter also brings together accepted definitions on Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and Anti-black racism in one place, making Oxford one of the first city's in the UK to do so.

A digital launch event was held as the charter was launched on Friday.

Representatives from schools, universities, businesses and communities formally signed up to the charter during the event.

In developing the charter the city council spoke to community organisations, activists, and people of colour that have lived experience of racism.

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Though the charter has tried to take into account what these groups have told the council, the document has been described as 'the beginning of a conversation', and it will be changed over time to make sure year on year progress is being made.

Council leader Susan Brown said: “Oxford’s anti-racism charter is a step forward to tackle issues associated with structural and institutional racism. By understanding these issues, why they exist, we have the opportunity to ensure we are a city that works for everyone.

"It’s a challenge for us all to do things better, to be just and fairer, and a commitment from some of our biggest institutions to go further to tackle racism."