The Government set up the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities to examine racial injustice in the UK, after the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum last summer. The Commission then published a 258-page report on its findings, on whether or not Britain is systemically racist, along with some recommendations for the government to implement. However, the report received a lot of backlash from the BLM movement, with some people believing it is pretending the problem of racism doesn’t exist.
What Were the Report’s Findings?
The report stated that the Commissioners don’t believe there is any institutional racism within Britain and believes that things such as social class and family structure affect minority groups more than race. It also rejected the term “white privilege”, saying that the movement across the UK is a “pessimistic narrative” and Britain no longer has a system that is rigged against ethnic minorities.
The report’s main findings focused on education and work and concluded that children from ethnic-minority communities did just as well, if not better, than their white counterparts in school. Black Caribbean students were found to have done the least well. Furthermore, the pay gap between white employees and ethnic minority employees has shrunk to 2.3% overall, and diversity has increased in professions such as law and medicine.
The report stated that socio-economic conditions can be the underlying causes of racial disparity and that this should be taken into account when removing barriers for everyone. It also mentioned that stop-and-search is a critical tool the police need to use to reduce crime and said that statistics that state that black people are more likely to get stopped and searched don’t take in to account population demographics across regions in the UK.
What Has the Response Been?
The race report has generated a lot of controversy, with many people describing it as a PR attempt to make it seem like the problem of racism has gone away. Labour MP David Lammy declared it an “insult to anybody and everybody across this country who experiences institutional racism”.
The United Nations also heavily criticised the report, calling it a “tone-deaf attempt at rejecting the lived realities of people of African descent and other ethnic minorities.” The UN also stated that the report tried to normalise white supremacy and repackaged racist tropes in an attempt to make Britain look good.
Many people have taken to provide evidence that directly goes against the report’s claims. Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that unemployment rates for black people are currently at 13.8%, which is triple that of white people at 4.5%. The Resolution Foundation found that black people generally hold the lowest wealth at £24,000 family wealth per adult, which is less than 1/8th of the typical white household. Black people studying STEM subjects at university have lower degree outcomes than white people, and racism is a huge problem in higher education.
There is also evidence that black people also experience institutional racism in medical care, as black women are four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. Black and ethnic minority people are more like to wait longer to receive treatment for Heart Attacks, according to research conducted by Keele University.
Evidently, the UK still has a long way to go to combat systemic racism, and the race report was nothing short of performative activism from the government, who have much to answer for on how they are tackling racism within Britain.