Boris Johnson is facing demands by more than 20,000 people to withdraw a report claiming there’s no institutional racism in the UK.
Instead, they say in an open letter that he should implement recommendations from previous investigations, to combat the institutional racism that Johnson’s report claims isn’t there.
Organisations including Charity So White, Liberty, the National Education Union, The Runnymede Trust and, yes, Black Lives Matter called on Johnson to “repudiate the … findings immediately and withdraw [the] report”.
Recommendations by Johnson’s Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities included:
- Forcing school children from disadvantaged areas into extended school days to catch up on missed learning caused by the Covid-19 lockdown.
- Better quality careers advice for children from disadvantaged backgrounds – to be funded by university outreach programmes (This Writer has a few doubts about whether this would happen in any case).
- Research on why children from some communities do better than those from others, in order to replicate conditions that help all children succeed (again, this seems unlikely to happen).
- Retirement of the acronym BAME because minority ethnic groups should be recognised for their differences rather than their mutual disadvantages (but doesn’t this open them up to discrimination because of those differences, which is exactly what the report should be avoiding?) and an end to unconscious bias training.
People named as contributors to the report have distanced themselves from it, with some saying government representatives used false pretences to secure their participation, or misrepresented their contribution.
An expert on race-related health inequalities said the report used outdated references and notably underplayed the impact of structural racism in health outcomes.
Sir Michael Marmot said there are health differences between races that are not fully explained by class, and so therefore racism must play some role.
And these are just some of the criticisms that have been lined up against Johnson’s report.
That’s why its lame recommendations have been dismissed by the more-than-20,000 signatories of the open letter.
They want recommendations from previously-published reports to be put into practice instead, like:
- The Home Office appointing a Migrants Commissioner, develop a programme of cultural change for the department, and establish a race advisory board.
- The justice system introducing targets for a more representative workforce, to reduce race-related bias; allowing low-level offenders to “defer” prosecution and opt for a rehabilitation programme before entering a plea; and gathering more data on the ethnicity and religion of offenders.
- Firms with more than 50 workers publishing a breakdown of their workforce by race and by how much they are paid (to establish any disparities between the different races).
To be honest, to This Writer, even these ideas seem like pussyfooting around the subject.
Those other reports, and Marmot’s work, and no doubt many others, have already established that the UK’s institutions are racist, and if measures to combat that racism haven’t been devised already, then I have to ask what all these commissions, organisations and pressure groups have been doing with their time.
So let’s have a bit of honesty about the real situation in the UK.
And then let’s have a bit of real action to put the prejudice in the past.
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