Campaigners in the United Kingdom are challenging a new report claiming that Britain’s system is no longer “deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities.”
In other words, Britain is free from institutional racism… which is news to some.
The report on the Race and Ethnic Disparities (Cred) was commissioned by Downing Street following the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests last summer.
Commission chair Tony Sewell claimed “very few” racial disparities were linked to racism. “The evidence shows that geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture and religion have more significant impact on life chances than the existence of racism.”
“It’s a whitewash,” Halima Begum, the head of race equalities think tank the Runnymede Trust, told CNN. “There’s only three countries in Europe where you can track racism: Finland, Ireland and the UK.”
She explains many countries in Europe do not have disaggregated ethnicity data, which means “you actually cannot track racism and for [the commission] to say “we are a beacon” — well the bar is very low.
“The cultural deafness of this report is only going to become clearer in the coming days and weeks.”
Sewell is standing by the report.
“No-one denies and no-one is saying racism doesn’t exist,” he said on BBC Radio 4’s “Today.”
“We found anecdotal evidence of this. However, evidence of actual institutional racism? No, that wasn’t there, we didn’t find that,” adding that the term “institutional racism” is “sometimes wrongly applied” as a “sort of a catch-all phrase for micro-aggressions or acts of racial abuse”.
Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities Marsha de Cordova said the report missed out on an opportunity to “seriously engage with the reality of inequality and institutional racism” and “cherry-picked” statistics. “To downplay institutional racism in a pandemic where black, Asian and ethnic minority people have died disproportionately and are now twice as likely to be unemployed is an insult,” she said.
For many, it’s clear that 10 Downing Street is pushing an agenda.
“From what we have seen, [the] reports fit neatly with the government’s attempts, post-Brexit, to portray the British nation as a beacon of good race relations and a diversity model, in the report’s words, for ‘white majority countries’ across the globe,” The Institute of Race Relations said.