By Ricky Browne
BLM protesters got it wrong — institutional racism does not exist in the United Kingdom, according to the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities.
Chairman of the Commission, Dr Tony Sewell CBE who himself is of black Caribbean descent, said “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.”
In fact, of the 11 professionals on the commission all bar perhaps one appeared to belong to minority ethnic groups.
“The evidence shows that geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture and religion have more significant impact on life chances than the existence of racism. That said, we take the reality of racism seriously and we do not deny that it is a real force in the UK,” Sewell said in his foreword.
“The purpose of this report is to provide the UK with a road map for racial fairness. There are still real obstacles and there are also practical ways to surmount them, but that becomes much harder if people from ethnic minority backgrounds absorb a fatalistic narrative that says the deck is permanently stacked against them,” Sewell said.
The report itself stated: “Racism has become one of the most potent taboos in the UK, which was not the case 50 years ago. Some argue this has just driven it underground where it operates as powerfully as ever to deny equality to ethnic minorities. That assumption is at odds with the stories of success that this report has found, together with survey evidence of dwindling White prejudice.”
The declaration would give support to Prince William’s recent claim that the Royal Family is certainly not racist, in response to insinuations of racism from his brother Prince Harry and his wife Meghan during an interview with Oprah Winfrey that was broadcast earlier in March.
The Commission was set up Prime Minister Boris Johnson in response to anti-racism protests that took place in the UK last year during the global Black Lives Matter movement which was spurred by the video-taped death of George Floyd in the United States.
According to the Commission the UK does not have a system that is against people from minority backgrounds – normally referred to as BAME in the UK, meaning Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic.
The Commission said that children from ethnic minorities were just as likely to do as well or even better than white children. The only ethnic group that appeared to perform less well was black Caribbean students – which would include students of black Jamaican descent.
The Commission also found that the pay gap between all ethnic minorities was small – standing at about 2.3 percent overall. But for employees under the age of 30 there was virtually no discernible difference.
It also found that diversity had increased in top professions such as law and medicine.
But not everyone was pleased at these findings, including Leader of the Opposition Keir Starmer.
Expressing his disappointment in the report, Starmer said: “We need to act on the very many recommendations we’ve had for many years whether that is in the business community, the board level, in criminal justice or the pandemic”
“I think in the end what we need is a race equality act, which is what the Labour Party is committed to” he said.
The finding also seems to be at odds with some other reports on racial disparities.
Earlier this year, it was reported that black directors do not hold any of the top boardroom positions of CEO, chairman or finance director on any of London’s FTSE 100 companies.
However, the argument could be that such an occurrence is not due to institutional racism, but is merely an inconvenient truth which happened by chance. The fact that this is the first time since 2014 that there has been no black person in a position of power on a blue-chip board suggests that its not impossible for black people to hold those positions.
And outside of those three senior positions, the numbers of black and other people from minority ethnic groups has actually been improving. A recent survey found that 81 FTSE 100 companies had at least one director from an ethinic minority on their board – up from 54 in 2020.