Wed 31 March 2021:
A government-commissioned report claiming that the UK is no longer institutionally racist, but admitting that outright racism is still present, has sparked criticism from the opposition and campaigners, who have regarded the conclusions published on Wednesday as insulting and worrying.
“Put simply we no longer see a Britain where the system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities,” the Independent Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which was appointed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson following last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, said.
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The review also concluded that although the UK cannot be considered “a post racial society,” it had become a “beacon to the world” in successfully creating a multi-ethnic society, adding that most of the disparities which some attribute to racial discrimination “often do not have their origins in racism.”
The released of the 264-page report has been met with a barrage of criticism from civil rights activists and lawmakers from the Labour Party, among others.
“Institutionally, we are still racist, and for a government-appointed commission to look into (institutional) racism, to deny its existence is deeply, deeply worrying,” Halima Begum, chief executive of the leading race equality think tank Runnymede Trust, said.
Interviewed by Sky news broadcaster, Begum said that the very least the commission could do is actually acknowledge the suffering of black and minority ethnic communities in the UK.
Labour lawmaker and shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy called the review “disappointing” and accused the government of trying to downplay the structural nature of racism.
“I think (the report) is very disappointing. On the one hand, the report seems to recognize that there are huge problems that still affect black and minority ethnic people in this country every day, but in the other hand, it seeks to downplay the structural nature of some of those challenges,” she said.
Lindsay argued that Black Caribbean children are 3.5 times more likely to be excluded from schools than their white counterparts, while black people are four times more likely to be arrested than white people.
Her fellow party member and lawmaker David Lammy, whose 2017 review into racial disparities in the criminal justice system is still awaiting implementation, called the race commission’s conclusions “insult to anybody and everybody across this country who experiences institutional racism.”
“This report could have been a turning point and a moment to come together. Instead, it has chosen to divide us once more and keep us debating the existence of racism rather than doing anything about it,” the shadow justice secretary told LBC radio station.
Reacting to the review, Johnson announced in a statement that his government will consider its recommendations and assess the implications for future government policy.
The 24 recommendations made in the report include phasing in extended school days to help pupil catch up on missed learning during the pandemic, starting with disadvantaged areas, and no discontinue the use of the acronym BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) as differences between groups are as important as what they have in common.
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