Anti-racism adverts try new approach

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THE COMMISSION for Racial Equality yesterday launched a fresh campaign to raise awareness of racial prejudice following its widely criticised recent series of posters. But this time its deliberately challenging billboard posters have been officially vetted to avoid causing public offence.

The government-funded watchdog's new advertisements use "positive" but unconventional images of black Britons. Although humorous in tone, the campaign again attempts to confound assumptions by carrying a sting in the tail.

One poster shows an Asian boy with the caption: "No one respects me". In smaller print we learn that he is an Arsenal fan. The second poster shows the face of an Afro-Caribbean man next to the words: "Scared? You should be - he's a dentist."

The third poster is a portrait of an Indian woman accompanied by the slogan: "Improve your English. Perhaps this head teacher could help."

The posters will go up at 900 sites and the CRE believes they will "make a mockery of negative stereotypes of black and Asian people". Its chairman, Sir Herman Ouseley, said: "We do need to challenge attitudes. This is the only way to combat some of the worrying views that have come to light this year."

Two months ago, the commission was reprimanded over a series of advertisements that appeared to condone racist attitudes.

The posters were immediately followed up with replacement posters which asked the public why they had not objected. "What was worse?" ran the slogan, "This ad, or your failure to complain?"