An important report on racial inequality has been criticized the use of the term “institutional racism” and says that other factors, such as family influence, socioeconomic background and religion, have a more “significant impact” on life chances than the existence of racism.
The report by the Committee on Race and National Inequality has been described by racial equality activists as “deeply cynical”.
The review behind the report was created by Downing Street to investigate racial inequalities in the UK in response to the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, and marks a major shift in government policy, stating its findings “by presenting a new racial agenda. for the Country “.
The commission’s report notes that while racism and racial injustice continue to exist, “we no longer see a Britain where the system is deliberately distorted against ethnic minorities”.
The commission has been widely criticized by activists and trade unions, with some accusing it of denying the experiences of blacks and minorities.
The 258-page report calls on the government to fully fund the Equality and Human Rights Committee, improve police training and include a local residency requirement for recruitment. Within 24 recommendations it supports the creation of an office for health inequalities, the opening of access to apprenticeships, the teaching of an “inclusive program” and the cessation of the use of the term BAME.
It is also pushing for a focus move away from the institutions and more towards the ‘extent [that] individuals and their communities could help themselves through their own service, instead of waiting for invisible external forces to gather to do the job. ”
In an outspoken rejection of the Black Lives Matter movement’s arguments and the protests that erupted after George Floyd’s death in the United States, the report states that the “idealism” of “well-meaning young people” promotes the dominant feature in society as institutional racism, achieves little. “Beyond the alienation of the decent center”.
Responding to one of the most controversial excerpts from the report, which argues that a “new story” should be told about the slave trade, which will highlight the cultural transformation of the African people, said Marsha De Cordova, Minister for Shadows of Equality: government urgently needs to explain how they came to publish content that glorifies the slave trade and immediately disengage from these comments. “
TUC Secretary-General Frances O’Grady said the commission “chose to deny the experiences of black and minority ethnic workers” and said institutional racism had trapped people in poverty, insecurity and low pay.
“Institutional and structural racism exists in the United Kingdom, both in the labor market and in society at large,” he said. “Black and minority ethnic workers are much more likely than white workers to have low-wage, insecure jobs, such as temporary and agencies or zero-hour contracts.”
The report concludes that while most of the Black Lives Matters protesters are young, most of the committee comes from “an older generation whose views were shaped by growth in the 1970s and 1980s.” But he says progress over the past 50 years “justifies a degree of optimism.”
Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, said: “Blacks and Asians in our society today face less prejudice than their parents or grandparents. However, such comparisons do not make much difference in the lives of British ethnic minorities in 2021.
“There is an important success story in education that can be properly celebrated. But if a Manchester graduate with an ethnic background still gets fewer job interviews than a white classmate with the same CV, why should they feel lucky that the odds may be worse in Milan or Marseille? “
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer said he was disappointed with the findings from the summary of the report published, insisting there were structural problems that needed to be addressed.
He told reporters during a visit to Leeds: “I have not yet seen the full report and I would obviously like to read it. I have seen the updates and I am disappointed. On the one hand there is a recognition of the problems, issues, challenges faced by many black and minority ethnic communities. But on the other hand, there is a reluctance to accept that this is structural. “
Rehana Azam, GMB’s national secretary for public services, said: “Only this government could produce a report on the 21st century race that really enlightens the people and communities of blacks, Asians, minorities and ethnic groups. This sounds like a profoundly cynical report that not only ignores the concerns and anxieties of black and ethnic minority workers, but is part of an electoral strategy to separate workers and voters. It is completely irresponsible and immoral.
“Institutional racism exists, it is the living experience of millions of workers of black and ethnic minorities. “We are paid less, we are more likely to be in high-risk jobs during the pandemic, we are more likely to die from Covid, we are more likely to stop and search, be arrested and go to jail.”
In response to the report, the Institute on Racial Relations said: “From what we have seen, both the findings and the recommendations of the Commission’s report on race and ethnicity are in line with the government’s post-Brexit efforts to reflect the British nation as a beacon of good racial relations and a model of diversity, as reported in the report, for “white majority countries” around the world.
“The methodology of the report seems to be that, when separating racial issues from class and addressing issues of structural racism as ‘historic’ but not modern, it leads to the stigmatization of some ethnic minorities due to the exploitation of others. The Black Caribbean, for example, is opposed to Black Africans and is considered to have internalized the injustices of the past to the detriment of their social progress. “
The Institute on Racial Relations added that the report signaled “the post-Macpherson narrative about institutional racism that the government would be more willing to bypass.”
Lady Falkner, chair of the Committee on Equality and Human Rights, said: “Racial inequality is complex and has links to other factors such as social and family background, poverty and geography. This report correctly identifies the various causes of inequality and by making recommendations to address them gives the government the opportunity to design policies aimed at the sources of inequality.
“There are many recommendations in which we can play a leading role and we welcome the recognition that additional funding would help us carry out our important work of tackling discrimination and disadvantage.
“While Britain has made great strides towards racial equality over the last 50 years, much remains to be done. As the report says, we need to find a way to take our successes, learn from them and apply them where we need to make further improvements. A combined approach is required. Now is the time for action and we are ready to play our part. “
Sign up tonight with Guardian reporter Joseph Harker and guest speakers for an online event, Brixton Riot 40 Years Later: What Changed for the Black Britons? Exploring four decades of protest and resistance at 7pm BST / 8pm CEST / 11am PDT / 2pm EDT. Book at gu.com/guardianlive