UK Race Report

Findings from a report on racism in the UK has caused widespread controversy

Photo by BBC.

— 3 minute read — by Amy King

A UK race report published by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (CRED) at the end of March has been widely condemned for ‘white washing’ and ‘normalising white supremacy’. Described as the ‘era of participation’, the report acknowledges the improvements already made in the UK and how the British society has become more open and accepting. Taking into consideration the increase of ethnic minority numbers in top British governmental and organisational positions, the 258-page report notes how class divides are decreasing within its working society.

Admittedly heavily influenced by the Black Lives Matter campaign, the report pays close attention to the British media’s inattentiveness towards the many successes and contributions made by ethnic minorities in all aspects of our day-to-day lives. Poet and activist, Linton Kwesi, stated within findings that the spirit of rebellion caused by BLM has triggered a new perspective of the Black presence within the UK, dissipating the negative legacy caused by the Windrush arrival from the Caribbean.

The four broad themes of recommendation within the report – building trust, promoting fairness, creating agency, and achieving inclusivity – suggests the commission considered the views and perspectives of the thousands of researchers, analysts, stakeholders, and members of the public interviewed. However, at least 20 of the individuals and organisations who partook in the investigation have distanced themselves from the report. Those who have dismayed the report as insignificant are: The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, The British Medical Association, The National Black Police Association, and The Youth Futures Foundation. The Youth Futures Foundation stated that “culture and the role of family alone cannot explain the existence of these disparities.” 

Amongst the 24 recommendations made, the committee suggested the acronym BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) should no longer be used because differences between groups are as important as what they have in common, and that children from disadvantaged backgrounds should have access to better quality careers advice in schools, funded by university outreach programmes. 

Chief Executive of the Runnymede Trust, a racial equality think tank, Dr Halima Begum, said she felt “deeply, massively let down” by the report. When asked if she agreed with the view that the UK is not institutionally racist, she said, “tell that to the black young mother who is four times more likely to die in childbirth than her young white neighbour, tell that to the 60 percent of NHS doctors and nurses who died from COVID-19 and were black and ethnic minority workers. You can’t tell them that, because they are dead. Institutionally, we are still racist, and for a government-appointed commission to look into (institutional) racism, to deny its existence is deeply, deeply worrying.”

Following the reports accusations, a group of United Nations human rights experts condemned the British government-backed report due to their belief that it offered “no evidence” to support its finding that the UK is not institutionally racist. During the creation of the report, policy experts pointed at disparities and holes within its analysis, such as why ethnic minorities were disproportionately dying of COVID-19 as well as labour market discrimination. The UN working group suggested that the research made “shocking misstatements and/or misunderstandings about data collection and mixed methods research” in an attempt to “delegitimise data grounded in lived experience while also shifting the blame for the impacts of racism to the people most impacted by it.”

The Race Disparity Audit, published by then prime minister Theresa May in 2017, demonstrated inequalities between ethnicities in sectors such as educational attainment, health, employment and treatment by police and the courts. It is noted by various racial equality organisations and groups within the UK that the acknowledgement of ethnic minority segregation exists within the government, but the active change of this acknowledgment is still yet to be seen and felt by the various communities affected.