Labour’s Afrophobia and Anti-Black Racism Policy
Code of Conduct
1. This is the Code of Conduct on Afrophobia and anti-Black racism. It applies to alleged misconduct demonstrating hostility or prejudice on the basis of skin colour or African or Black Caribbean ethnic origins or nationalities associated with that origin.
2. This Code supplements the brief “Code of Conduct: Antisemitism and other forms of racism”, reproduced in Appendix 8 to the Labour Party Rule Book.
3. Chapter 2, Clause I.11 of the Labour Party’s Rule Book contains the basic conduct rules applicable to all Party members:
“No member of the Party shall engage in conduct which in the opinion of the NEC is prejudicial, or in any act which in the opinion of the NEC is grossly detrimental to the Party. The NEC and NCC shall take account of any codes of conduct currently in force and shall regard any incident which in their view might reasonably be seen to demonstrate hostility or prejudice based on age; disability; gender reassignment or identity; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; or sexual orientation as conduct prejudicial to the Party: these shall include but not be limited to incidents involving racism, antisemitism, Islamophobia or otherwise racist language, sentiments, stereotypes or actions, sexual harassment, bullying or any form of intimidation towards another person on the basis of a protected characteristic as determined by the NEC, wherever it occurs, as conduct prejudicial to the Party. The disclosure of confidential information relating to the Party or to any other member, unless the disclosure is duly authorised or made pursuant to a legal obligation, shall also be considered conduct prejudicial to the Party.”
The NEC and NCC will take this Code of Conduct into account when determining whether allegations of hostility or prejudice based on the basis of race. Such complaints will be investigated and processed in accordance with the Labour Party’s disciplinary policies, which can be found on the Labour Party’s website and in the Labour Party Complaint Handling Handbook.Afrophobia and Anti-Black Racism
4. Labour is an anti-racist party. Afrophobia and Anti-Black racism are unacceptable in the Labour Party, just as it is unacceptable in wider society.
The following statements provide illustrative examples of the nature of Afrophobia and anti-Black racism:
- “Afrophobia is a term that has been used to describe the specificities of racism that targets people of African descent. While different terms may be used depending on the context and the target person or collective group concerned, Afrophobia can also be generally understood as the manifestation of racism towards Black people, intended as all those individuals, groups and communities that define themselves as “Black’.” – EU High Level Group on combating racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance
- “Afrophobia is a specific form of racism that refers to any act of violence or discrimination including racist speech, fuelled by historical abuses and negative stereotyping, and leading to the exclusion and dehumanisation of people of African descent. It can take many forms: dislike, bias, oppression, racism and structural and institutional discrimination, among others. Afrophobia is the result of the social construction of race to which genetic and/or cultural specificities and stereotypes are attributed (racialisation). This constructed relationship is deeply embedded in the collective European imagination and continues to impact the lives of people of African descent and Black Europeans.” – European Network Against Racism
- “The Council for Democratising Education defines anti-Blackness as being a two-part formation that both voids Blackness of value, while systematically marginalising Black people and their issues. The first form of anti-Blackness is overt racism. Beneath this anti-Black racism is the covert structural and systemic racism which categorically predetermines the socioeconomic status of Blacks in this country. The structure is held in place by anti-Black policies, institutions, and ideologies.” “The second form of anti-Blackness is the unethical disregard for anti-Black institutions and policies. This disregard is the product of class, race, and/or gender privilege certain individuals experience due to anti-Black institutions and policies. This form of anti-Blackness is protected by the first form of overt racism.” – Racial Equality Tools
- “Anti-Black racism is the specific exclusion and prejudice against people visibly (or perceived to be) of African descent – what most of us would commonly call Black people,” says senior policy officer Kim McIntosh, Runnymede
5. Racism against Black people and Black cultures has a long history and, in a UK context, is inextricably bound with the history of British Imperialism. Anti-Black racism has arisen in all sections of UK society. It has affected – and still affects – the position of Black people throughout the UK and how Black people are treated (unequally) by the state (for example, in the provision of education, health, housing, employment and treatment in the justice system).
6. Labour Party members should be aware of, and sensitive to, the detrimental effects of discrimination that can be suffered as a result of Afrophobia and/or anti-Black racism. Such trauma can be experienced in many different ways, from on-going small occurrences through to major hate crimes, and can lead to, amongst other things, post-traumatic stress disorder affecting Black communities in wider society.
7. Labour Party members should also be aware of the fact that Black women can also be victims of “misogynoir”, which is misogyny directed towards Black women where both race and gender play roles in bias and discrimination.Guiding principles in the determination of disciplinary allegations of Afrophobia and anti-Black racism
8. The Labour Party will have regard to the following principles when considering allegations of Afrophobia and anti-Black racism by Labour Party members. These principles should be taken into account when assessing whether a member’s conduct falls below the standards required by the Labour Party Rule Book. Although each case must always be judged on its own context and facts, the engagement of one or several principles below is likely to indicate that the alleged conduct is prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the Labour Party:
a. The European Court of Human Rights recognises the principle of freedom of expression protects views which “offend, shock or disturb” society or a section of it. However, the Court has also emphasised that the principle does not protect the expression of racist views or “hate speech.” The Labour Party will not tolerate in its ranks the expression of views and statements that promote racist or discriminatory beliefs or behaviour, nor that amount to intimidation or harassment on the basis of race (i.e. skin colour, ethnic or national origins).
b. The history of the British Empire and British colonialism is complex. British Imperialism has affected different groups in different ways and through different experiences. Some of the UK’s, predominantly white population, found greater wealth and freedom within the British Empire. For many others, British Imperialism resulted in great pain, inhuman treatment and poverty; the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the dispossession of indigenous peoples in Africa, Australia and New Zealand are examples. The Labour Party expects its members to discuss these sensitive issues respectfully and inclusively. In this sensitive area, the minimisation of the British Empire’s detrimental effects on many Black populations carries a strong risk of amounting to behaviour that is grossly detrimental or prejudicial to the Labour Party.
c. Racist or discriminatory behaviour toward Black people, whether intentional or not, is not considered to be acceptable conduct on the part of Labour Party members. Racism is not just something ‘extreme’, out of the ordinary or violent. It includes every day and cultural stereotyping and assumptions, as well as structural and systemic racism. Racist stereotyping about Black people is unacceptable in the Labour Party and is very likely to be considered prejudicial or grossly detrimental to the Labour Party.
d. Discussions about immigration are often used by far-right and white supremacist political organisations to justify anti-Black racism or as a proxy for anti-Black racism. Statements expressing views that white people have a greater legitimacy to live in the UK, or that Black British people are not English, Welsh, Scottish or Irish (as it may be), or that the immigration of Black people to the UK constitutes a threat to the UK or its population, are unacceptable. These sorts of statements are very likely to amount to prejudicial or grossly detrimental conduct under the Labour Party’s rules.
e. The Labour Party is a democratic socialist political association that stands for equality; one of its central aims is to deliver people from the tyranny of prejudice. Support for far-right or white-supremacist political movements or the promotion of the views, propaganda or materials (whether sharing or liking (or otherwise favouriting) social media posts or other literature) of such movements is incompatible with Labour Party values and membership.
f. Participation in, or the promotion of, dehumanising, denigrating or offensive racial depictions or impersonations shall not be tolerated in the Labour Party. This includes black face, mocking the accents of Black people or people from majority Black nations or language groups, making monkey noises in relation to Black people, and the use of dehumanising imagery (for example, monkeys, golliwogs, Jim Crow), or the accentuation of African physical features in cartoons or drawings.
g. Labour Party members should be aware of, and sensitive to, stereotypical negative qualities that are often deployed against Black people, sometimes unwittingly. These include assumptions that Black people who wear their hair naturally or as they wish are ‘unprofessional’ or ‘untidy’, expectations that Black people should straighten their hair, that Black people are stronger and able to tolerate pain, and stereotypes that present Black people as hyper-sexualised (for example, having a higher libido or having exaggerated physical sexual characteristics), lazy, less well-educated or prone to criminality. Participation in this sort of stereotyping is likely to fall below the standards of behaviour expected of Labour Party members and it must be avoided and rejected.
Further resources for Labour Party members
Labour Party members may find it helpful to be directed to the following sources of information about Afrophobia and anti-Black racism, its effects and how to combat it:
The Lawrence Review:
Amnesty: online violence against women MPs:
European Network Against Racism: