A report released by a Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities in the United Kingdom showed that the country is “a relatively open society” and does not have a system that is “deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities.”
The report stated that the United Kingdom is not “yet a post-racial society which has completed the long journey to equality of opportunity.” It said that “outright racism still exists in the UK,” but according to its examination, “the evidence reveals that ours is nevertheless a relatively open society.” It also aded, “The country has come a long way in 50 years and the success of much of the ethnic minority population in education and, to a lesser extent, the economy, should be regarded as a model for other White-majority countries.”
BBC reported on the main findings of the study, which include:
- Children from ethnic-minority communities did as well or better than white pupils in compulsory education, with black Caribbean pupils the only group to perform less well
- This success in education has “transformed British society over the last 50 years into one offering far greater opportunities for all”
- The pay gap between all ethnic minorities and the white majority population had shrunk to 2.3% overall and was barely significant for employees under 30
- Diversity has increased in professions such as law and medicine
- But some communities continue to be “haunted” by historic racism, which is creating “deep mistrust” and could be a barrier to success
The report had four main areas of focus: “education and training,” “employment, fairness at work, and enterprise,” “crime and policing,” and “health.” It also looked into “the intersection of some of the most pertinent causes holding back equality of opportunity,” including ethnicity, socio-economic background, geography, and culture and degree of integration.
The report’s introduction stated, “We found that most of the disparities we examined, which some attribute to racial discrimination, often do not have their origins in racism … There is much evidence to suggest, for example, that different experiences of family life and structure can explain many disparities in education outcomes and crime. Early years experiences, including stability and security at home, matters to children more than anything else.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson requested the commission to be formed last summer after racism became a main topic and concern in the United States.
The Chair of the commission, Tony Sewell, included a foreword at the beginning of the report, explaining his involvement. He stated that the commission was comprised of 10 members from various fields and all but one of them are from minority backgrounds.
Sewell wrote, “The word mistrust was repeated often as some witnesses from the police service, mental health, education and health services felt that the system was not on their side. Once we interrogated the data we did find some evidence of biases, but often it was a perception that the wider society could not be trusted. For some groups historic experience of racism still haunts the present and there was a reluctance to acknowledge that the UK had become open and fairer.”
Sewell also wrote that their information collected showed many circumstances of success among minorities. “These have often been ignored or have been seen to be of little interest (to the media),” he added. Sewell also stated that this is the first study on race commissioned by the government “that seriously engages with the family.”
Sewell wrote, “Put simply we no longer see a Britain where the system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities. The impediments and disparities do exist, they are varied, and ironically very few of them are directly to do with racism. Too often ‘racism’ is the catch-all explanation, and can be simply implicitly accepted rather than explicitly examined.”
He added that the evidence of the report demonstrates that other factors “have more significant impact on life chances than the existence of racism,” including geography, family influence, and socio-economic background. Still, he stated that racism is “a real force in the UK” and the commission takes it seriously.
BBC reports, “In a statement issued after the report was published, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was ‘right’ that ministers now consider its recommendations in detail and assess ‘the implications for future government policy’.”
Johnson said, “The entirety of government remains fully committed to building a fairer Britain and taking the action needed to address disparities wherever they exist.”
Some are unhappy with the findings of the report, and have specifically called out its discussion of slavery.
The Daily Beast reported,”Perhaps the low point of the report is when it appears to find some benefits of the African slave trade—an atrocity in which Britain very much led the way. The government report chirpily states: ‘There is a new story about the Caribbean experience which speaks to the slave period not only being about profit and suffering but how culturally African people transformed themselves into a re-modelled African/Britain.’”
The outlet reported that Rehana Azam, the national secretary of the GMB trade union, said, “Only this government could produce a report on race in the 21st century that actually gaslights Black, Asian, Minority and Ethnic people and communities. This feels like a deeply cynical report that not only ignores Black and ethnic minority workers’ worries, but is part of an election strategy to divide working class people and voters.”
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