UK Racism Report: Worthwhile or Worthless?

Aidan Lomas, Opinions and Features Editor

On Wednesday, March 31st, the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (CRED) reported that the United Kingdom was “not deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities”. The report came in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests during the Summer months of 2020.

The Report as presented: The Chair of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, Tony Sewell, presented the report on March 31st, having been commissioned to examine the racial ‘divide’ and inequalities in the United Kingdom by the Prime Minister in the Summer of last year. Crown Copyright © 

The main points revealed by the report included that children from minority backgrounds perform just as well as white children in education (excluding black Caribbean children who were the only group to perform less well). Additionally, the education system was reported to have successfully reformed itself over the past fifty years to become a more inclusive institution.

As one would expect, the diversity of professionals has also increased over the last few years according to the report. CRED’s report found that the UK was not yet a “post-racial” country, however the possibility of this was available due to the progressive and successful reforms already made in the education and economic sectors

The report is being criticised for not appropriately recognising the nature of institutionalised racism within the United Kingdom. It states “[The Commission] also have to ask whether a narrative that claims nothing has changed for the better, and that the dominant feature of our society is institutional racism and White privilege, will achieve anything beyond alienating the decent centre ground”.

Talking on LBC after the report was published, David Lammy MP claimed that minority communities within the United Kingdom are being “gaslighted”. Mr Lammy went on to say that, through the publication of the report, Boris Johnson has “let an entire generation of young white and black British people down” in their efforts for racial equality in the UK.

Dr Tony Sewell CBE, had previously said that the pejorative term for ethnic minorities ‘BAME’ was increasingly outmoded and that current evidence of instiutional racism in UK society is “somewhat flimsy.”

Frances O’Grady, the General-Secretary of the Trades Union Congress has claimed the report is “complacent”. O’Grady argued that minorities were far more likely to be in low-paid jobs. “Institutional and structural racism exists in the UK, both in the labour market and wider society”. As always, social media has been flooded over the passed 24 hours with debates of the legitimacy of the report.

Halima Begum, the director of the Runnymede Trust, a race-equality think tank, responded to the report by saying it had been “written to a script” directed by the Prime Minister. She has labelled the report an “utter whitewash”.

The Institute of Race Relations has stated “We see no attempt here to address the common ethnic minatory experience of structural racism within areas such as the criminal justice system”. A House of Commons Briefing Paper published in July 2020 found that, “People of minority ethnicities made up 27% of the prison population compared with 13% of the general population”.

The Government responded to the claims made against the report by recognising that a significant number of people who gave evidence to the Commission’s report “used terms such as ‘systematic’, ‘systemic’… racism to describe what they considered to be a case of the ethnic disparities”. Additionally, in anticipation of the report’s publication, the Chair of the Commission, Tony Sewell, stated that, “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” he added.

To discover more about the Report’s findings, click here to hear it explained by Sky News.

Published by The Gown Queen's University Belfast

The Gown has provided respected, quality and independent student journalism from Queen's University, Belfast since its 1955 foundation, by Dr. Richard Herman. Having had an illustrious line of journalists and writers for almost 70 years, that proud history is extremely important to us. The Gown is consistent in its quest to seek and develop the talents of aspiring student writers.

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