Two longstanding campaigners for racial justice and civil liberties in the North of England share their thoughts on the government’s recent racism report.
You couldn’t make it up. Do you laugh, cry, scream or just accept that we’re all a product of the environment that’s surrounded our learning and socialisation? One may think about how a Black man can endorse a report that makes reference to a line that many have interpreted as ‘slavery was character building for Black people’.
Some charities have said the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities is an insult to minorities and every person of colour. Others have said ‘there are some good bits’. Some of the contributors, meanwhile, have stated that they weren’t even aware that they had contributed to the report.
I’ve been trying to rack my brain about if I’ve read anything more bonkers in my life. And then I had a eureka moment, remembering that time when Donald Trump was showing off his intellectual scientific gravitas by suggesting we tackle the Covid-19 pandemic with disinfectant injections. This report is so far on the scale of incongruity that it falls in this league!
That’s why I can reconcile with the fact that some media stations and commentators called it a “landmark report”. You have to admit it’s an exclusive club – a club that I don’t even think Boris Johnson wants to be part of, and we all know of his expertise and diplomacy on speaking about race and the lived experience of minorities. The report has been condemned by most – so much so that the authors have had to issue statements to state what is acceptable and what isn’t – in terms of the conclusions drawn from the report and the ethical considerations of how the data has been drawn up.
The report has stated that they found no evidence of institutional racism – despite the volume of research that exists. Perhaps the failure to include particular ‘stakeholders’ and/or the misuse of contributors to such evidence is exactly why. One only has to look at the Covid-19 pandemic to find reports on the disproportionality and inequality suffered by Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people in health (that had already been there for decades). Such ‘evidence’ is also present in what people of colour feel every day of their life.
The mere act of the report making such a denial is enough evidence of institutional racism and is indeed racial gaslighting in its truest form. The first step is to admit institutional racism. Perhaps the government should go to a ‘racists anonymous’ show and tell?
This report is a kick in the teeth for those that seek to claim ‘at least we’re not as bad as the US’ and for those of us that have fought so long already.