5 steps the Green Party needs to take towards racial justice
Ria Patel and Kelsey Trevett are standing in the by-election for the Green Party’s equality and diversity coordinator. This article is published as part of their campaign. Voting is open to party members until 31 October. The other candidate in the election is Kefentse Dennis.
The Green Party is not racially diverse enough. We have policies for the creation of a society with racial justice at its core, but our local parties are not reflective of the local communities they seek to serve and represent.
If the Green Party is to truly champion racial, social, economic, and environmental justice through the development and delivery our policies, we need to do a much better job internally.
And that has never been more important: with an increasingly hostile environment, created by the Conservatives, cheered on by Labour, and fuelled by the media, the need for strong, principled action against racism, and towards a society where racial diversity is not merely tolerated, but celebrated, is essential.
We have a long way to go. But with strong leadership, and a commitment to learn and develop across our membership, it is by no means an impossible task. Here’s how we do it.
1. Create a vision for racial justice
Building a representative, diverse, and inclusive movement means bringing in new members and activists from all across our communities. Putting forward a radical programme for liberation, politics which seeks to achieve racial justice and which recognises its intrinsic connection with social, economic, and environmental justice is key — and that work must centre the voices of the global majority.
Examples of this are taking place across England and Wales ahead of the bumper year of elections in 2024: Zoe Garbett in London is hosting roundtable discussions with liberation groups to inform the 2024 London manifesto, to ensure it reflects the needs and priorities of all Londoners, not just those who dominate our own party.
We want to see this sort of community engagement across England and Wales, supporting local and regional parties to take meaningful contributions from Greens of Colour to guide the formation of their local manifestos, whilst working with Policy Development Committee and the manifesto steering group to conduct a similar process at the national level, ahead of the impending general election.
Meanwhile, greens of colour, alongside other liberation groups, should be supported to produce their own manifestos ahead of the Westminster elections — a document which can speak directly to the needs and priorities of black and minority ethnic groups in pursuit of racial justice and equity.
2. Empower global majority members
Across the Green Party, there are a whole host of initiatives designed to up-skill activists, and to give them the confidence necessary to organise in and represent their communities – as elected councillors, target parliamentary candidates, and within student and trade unions. These include Campaign School, and the Young Greens’ 30 Under 30 programme — the latter of which, in 2023, sought to focus on training activists from marginalised groups currently underrepresented in our party and broader movement for change.
We know that for people from marginalised communities, instilling confidence is key. We want to empower Greens of Colour to organise training programmes for global majority members across England and Wales. These are not only an excellent opportunity to offer practical skills-based training sessions; they also create a strong network of activists from black and minority ethnic groups across the country, to share expertise, experience, and success.
3. Amplify Greens of Colour
Whilst we have huge steps to take in the Green Party towards representing communities, and supporting the global majority to get and stay involved in creating change, we must not lose sight of the incredible work already being undertaken by Greens of Colour across England and Wales.
With a growing number of elected councillors, and a whole host of activists working tirelessly on the ground, at the local and national level, Greens of Colour are going from strength to strength.
Part of our work in tackling our party’s overwhelmingly white image is to amplify their work, ensuring that their campaigns are given a platform, their successes are visible, and that they are represented at all levels of our party, from leadership, to our spokespeople, to the governing bodies.
As two people at the intersections of several forms of social oppression, we recognise the harm of tokenism as a guise for genuine progress. With the wealth of talent, experience, and passion already present in Greens of Colour, alongside efforts to grow and develop even further, there is no place for tokenism: instead, let’s support Greens of Colour to get hardworking activists elected, both internally and externally, and recognised.
4. Train local parties
Creating inclusive, safe, and empowering spaces for all members starts at the grassroots. Local parties are the first point of contact for most activists, and we have a responsibility to ensure that they are proactively working to improve the diversity of their membership, and to retain and empower global majority members.
Our national liberation groups have a strong track record of working with local parties to share expertise, answer questions, and offer advice in a non-judgemental space: the LGBTIQA+ Greens championed this to work with local parties on tackling Queerphobia, and just this month, Greens of Colour in London have worked with parties in Newham and Sutton & Croydon to deliver training on unconscious bias, inclusive spaces, and recognising micro-aggressions.
These types of initiatives are incredible to see, making tangible steps towards a party which truly represents the huge diversity of backgrounds in our communities, and provides the space and support to empower activists to develop. We want to make initiatives like this happen on a wider scale.
5. Get candidates of colour elected
As a political party, we have a responsibility to represent the communities we seek to serve. Embedding, rather than imposing, ourselves in local communities means that our candidates must reflect their wards and constituencies, fighting for and relating to them.
We know that some of the most vulnerable communities to the intrinsically linked climate and social crises are those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds: in London, for example, these communities are disproportionately affected by toxic air pollution.
In creating candidate selection processes which necessitate, at least, that candidate lists reflect the diversity of the communities they seek to represent, we can uplift candidates of colour, growing the pool of elected Greens of Colour already doing fantastic work across the country.
We want to support local parties in standing diverse candidates, representative of their local areas.
Of course, this is not a checklist, but a constant process. It involves communicating and reflecting with each other and forming genuine connections with local communities. It will take time. But we have a plan, and if elected to the post of the Green Party’s Equality & Diversity Coordinator, we are ready to build on our track record of making real progress towards a party which champions diversity at every level.
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Image credit: Jon Craig – Creative Commons