UK actors’ union Equity has set up an independent commission to address the org’s anti-racism work following the mass resignation of its existing Race Equality Committee after an incident involving the actor Laurence Fox.
Fox provoked controversy on an episode of BBC show Question Time when, among numerous comments about race, he claimed it was “racist” for him to be called “a white, privileged male.” The actor was widely condemned for the remarks and Equity’s Race Equality Committee publicly labelled him a “disgrace” on social media.
The post prompted Equity to apologize to the actor, and the Committee resigned in protest.
Now, the org has set up an Independent Commission for Race Equality (ICRE), which it stated is not a replacement for the previous Committee. It will explore how their resignations affected the union and will analyze its wider work on anti-racism, including creating a roadmap for improved employment practices for BAME workers in the industry once the business begins to return to normal post-pandemic.
The commission will be co-chaired by Johnny Worthy, Tanya Moodie and Chipo Chung, and will include Dawn Hope as a representative of Equity’s Council. It will report directly to the union’s ruling Council and will present on-going recommendations, concluding work in December 2020.
“I helped establish the original group within Equity for BME members in the 1970s. I understand that our union’s members continue to face prevailing challenges in creating a level playing field, and I welcome my role in helping Equity to create a policy to achieve this,” said Johnny Worthy.
“The Commission’s role is to listen to the union’s black and minority ethnic membership, ask the union leadership fundamental questions about how the it organizes, represents and fights for black and minority ethnic workers, and take urgent action to radically reform the union’s anti-racism work,” added Tanya Moodie.
“During this uncertain and devastating time for the theatre we need Equity to be strong, and we need our union to protect those who are most at risk of discrimination. I applaud Equity’s courage in giving the mandate on anti-racism to the BME community by setting up the Commission and committing to a process of listening,” added Chipo Chung.