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Government report rejects claim UK is ‘institutionally racist’

While acknowledging that 'overt and outright racism' does exist at individual and group levels in the UK, the report finds it is not institutional, concluding that the UK has become a 'more open society.

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A report commissioned in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement in June of 2020, has concluded that institutional racism doesn’t exist in the UK, finding that issues of race and racism are diminishing and decreasing in importance as the public successfully navigates an increasingly multi-cultural society.

However, the report does not deny the presence and persistence of individual racism in some social groups.

The landmark report which has been awaited with anticipation to examine its findings has suggested that the UK should be an example to other ‘white majority’ countries with regards to racism.

The report claims the UK has become a more open society. Credit: Canva

The 264-page report has concluded that the UK has increasingly become a ‘more open society’ where children from many ethnic communities perform as well, or significantly better than white pupils in compulsory education (primary and high school).

Despite this, race advisors have alerted policy-makers that Britain is not a ‘post-racial society’ and that racism is still present in the UK, particularly in online communities and via social media.

Ahead of the release of the report, a government summary says, “The landmark report challenges the view that Britain has failed to make progress in tackling racial inequality, suggesting the well-meaning ‘idealism’ of many young people who claim this country is still institutionally racist is not borne out by the evidence.”

“These failings demonstrate an institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race and the history of the Windrush generation within the department, which are consistent with some elements of the definition of institutional racism.”

Wendy Williams – HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services

The report emerges after numerous findings published last year cited evidence of structural inequalities including the Public Health England (PHE) review of disparities in the risks and outcomes of COVID (2020), the Lawrence Review (2020), and the Windrush Lessons Learned Review (2020).

The PHE investigation found that:  “Given the limitations of the PHE review, work was especially called for on the socio-economic, occupational, cultural and structural factors (racism, discrimination, stigma) influencing COVID-19 outcomes in Bame communities within and outside the health sector.”

While the Lawrence Review, commissioned by the Labour Party and led by Baroness Doreen Lawrence, concluded that “decades of structural discrimination led to the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on minority ethnic communities”.

In the Lessons Learned Review Wendy Williams, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services, noted that “these failings demonstrate an institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness towards the issue of race and the history of the Windrush generation within the department, which are consistent with some elements of the definition of institutional racism.”

Boris Johnson announced the cross-government inquiry into “all aspects” of racial inequality in Britain in response to the Black Lives Matter protests that swept across the globe.

Tony Sewell, chairman of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, who has previously made comments denying the existence of institutional racism, said: “The report highlights the significance of education as the single most powerful tool in reducing ethnic disparities.

“The effect of education is transformative on individuals but also their families and their communities, sometimes within a generation.

“Another revelation from our dive into the data was just how stuck some groups from the white majority are. As a result, we came to the view that recommendations should, wherever possible, be designed to remove obstacles for everyone, rather than specific groups.”

In 2019 Black African pupils performed above their white British counterparts on average in GCSE exams, while Black Caribbean pupils were the only ethnic group who performed lower than white British pupils, new research commissioned by the group found.

The commission has suggested that some communities continue to be “haunted” by “historic cases” of racism, creating “deep mistrust” in the system which prevent them from being successful.

The report makes 24 recommendations including the commissioning of further research into the drivers in “high performing pupil’s communities” to see what can be replicated to support all children to succeed.

“Get on with the action, legislate, move. You’re in government – do something.”

David Lammy mp – Shadow Secretary of State for Justice

Last summer, Boris Johnson announced the cross-government inquiry into “all aspects” of racial inequality in Britain in response to the Black Lives Matter protests that swept across the globe, highlighting endemic racism and widespread injustices.

“We have to acknowledge that when thousands of people march peacefully for Black Lives Matter, you can’t ignore that,” the prime minister said at the time. “I, as a leader, as someone in government, I can’t ignore the strength of feeling.”

But in a scathing attack at inaction from successive governments, David Lammy claimed the promise to hold a commission – first announced in a comment piece for The Daily Telegraph – was “written on the back of a fag packet to assuage the Black Lives Matter protesters”. Speaking in June, the shadow justice secretary demanded: “Get on with the action, legislate, move. You’re in government – do something.”

Referencing a previous report he led in 2017 into racial disparities in the criminal justice system, the Labour frontbencher said: “I made 35 specific limit recommendations in the Lammy review. Implement them. 

“There are 110 recommendations in the Angiolini review into deaths into police custody. Implement them. There are 30 recommendations in the Home Office review into the Windrush scandal. Implement them. There are 26 in Baroness McGregor-Smith’s review into workplace discrimination. Implement them.”

Feature Image Credit: gov.uk

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