London, United Kingdom – A government-sponsored study on racism concluded that the UK was not an institutionally racist country, prompting a backlash from critics who called the findings “outright laundering”.
In an early report released on Wednesday, the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities said the UK was not yet a ‘post-racial country’ but should be seen as a ‘model for other majority white countries’ , citing achievements towards equality in the country. education and economic sectors.
While the report recognized that “open and plain” racism persisted and claimed that some communities were “haunted” by historical discrimination, it downplayed the importance of systemic racism in explaining inequalities in areas such as health and education. criminality.
The UK, he said, was no longer a country where the system is “deliberately rigged” against ethnic minorities.
“Barriers and disparities exist, they are varied and, ironically, very few of them are directly related to racism,” the 258-page report states. “Evidence shows that geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture and religion have a greater impact on life chances than the existence of racism.”
But opposition politicians and activists were quick to dismiss the commission’s findings.
Halima Begum, director of the UK’s Runnymede Trust racial equality think tank, said the report was “written according to a script” defined by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government, as she called it “Total laundering”.
“In it, the government cannot even bring itself to recognize or show any empathy for the incidence of racism in the UK,” Begum told Al Jazeera.
“Frankly, by denying the evidence of institutional racism… I think they have insulted every ethnic minority in this country – the very people who continue to experience racism on a daily basis.”
The Institute of Race Relations (IRR), another UK-based think tank, said in a statement: “We cannot see here any attempt to address the common ethnic minority experience of structural racism in areas such as the criminal justice system. ”
The report’s findings, according to the IRR, “fit in perfectly with the government’s post-Brexit attempts to portray the British nation as a beacon of good race relations and a model of diversity.”
The Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities was created by Johnson after anti-racism protests swept across the UK last summer following the death of George Floyd in the US.
He was due to publish his report last year. The delay was blamed on COVID-19 restrictions and the high number of responses from the public.
A spokesperson for Black Lives Matter UK told Al Jazeera that the commission’s findings highlight a sad reality that the voices of black Britons are still not being heard.
“We didn’t need another report. We had to start looking to implement lasting and impactful changes, ”the spokesperson said, adding that the criminal justice system and policing methods – including the controversial stop and search procedures – required attention. reform.
“We need action,” they said.
Recommendations to “ remove barriers for everyone ”
The report says children from ethnic minority communities often perform as well or better than white students.
Black Caribbean students were the only group to register lower levels of achievement, he said.
As evidence of an “improved image” in the workplace, he cited increased diversity in professions such as medicine and law and a narrowing of the racial pay gap as a whole. , which amounted to 2.3%.
“The well-meaning idealism of many young people who claim the country is still institutionally racist is not borne out by the evidence,” the report said.
“The country has come a long way in 50 years and the success of a large part of the ethnic minority population in education and, to a lesser extent, in the economy, should be seen as a model for other countries with a white majority. “
In light of its findings, the commission made 24 recommendations “aimed at removing barriers for everyone, rather than specific groups”.
One suggestion has been to end the use of the acronym BAME, which stands for Black, Asian and Ethnic Minority, which she describes as “unnecessary”.
Another idea was to create an office of health disparities aimed at reducing inequalities, and a third example was to encourage companies to move away from unconscious bias training in favor of new, seemingly vague interventions to “advance health. ‘fairness in the workplace’.
But opposition Labor MP and shadow secretary of state for justice David Lammy said the government missed an opportunity to respond to an “overwhelming desire for change” after Floyd’s murder.
The report, he said, could have been a ‘turning point and a time to come together’, but instead it had divided the UK once again.
“The British – Black and White – are asking to turn the page on racism,” Lammy tweeted. “With this report Boris Johnson is getting in their way.”