Afro-Caribbean people living in the UK have bitterly complained for 60 years that they have been treated as second-class citizens. Politicians and many social workers across all parties have denied that accusation. They have, robot-like, argued that Britain is a fair society with equal opportunity for everyone.
However, a recent government report into many, if not all, aspects of life in the UK as experienced by black people, has totally, by dint of figures, shown that the concept of a fair and equal society is merely that… a concept. The Government research and analysis study on Black Caribbean people was published on June 27 and the results beg belief. It has given statistics in categories such as population, education, police stop and search, police arrests, fear of crime, home ownership, renting and mental health. In every sector, Black Caribbean people compared with white British are seen to have achieved much less than them.
Space does not allow me to look intensively at all the sectors and I have therefore chosen a few to illustrate the points.
The story of black inferiority levels in this sector has been peddled about for many years. However, whilst the figures show low achievements by black children, they appear not to have looked at the possible reasons for such results. Barbados TODAY recently highlighted the findings of different groups of education researchers. They argue that the system was institutionally racist and by extension, it impacted negatively on black children’s achievements in schools at all levels.
Indeed, one report even suggested that teachers were subconsciously racist. As a result, the report called for training courses to be set up so that teachers could be made aware of their failings and taught how to eradicate these fundamental flaws in their characters.
Little wonder, therefore, that the expected achievable standard in reading, writing and maths at primary school level is significantly lower for Black children when compared to those of white British children. The pattern is continued when the comparisons are made at GCSE and Advanced levels.
The statistics do not paint a false picture and therefore leads one to assume, not believe, that the Afro-Caribbean pupil is generally inferior to the white British colleague. As one refutes any such suggestion, one can only question what part, if any, is being played by the authorities in their apparent acceptance of this sad and imbalanced state of the education of Afro- Caribbean children in which their performance pales against that of white British and other ethnic groups.
Before we leave the topic of education, it should be noted that Black Caribbean pupils were twice as likely to be temporarily excluded and two and one-half times to be permanently excluded as their white British colleagues.
Policing of black people has been a highly contentious subject since the beginning of emigration to this country. Activists have constantly argued that policing is perhaps the most prejudiced area. Here again, the report has confirmed in its findings that there is a significant difference in attitudes towards the races. It states that black Caribbean people were 9.6 times more likely to be stopped and searched than British white people. The stark evidence is that there were 26 stop and searches per 1, 000 Caribbean people against three for every 1, 000 British white. (Figures for 2017.)
In recent years, the incidences of stop and searches were cut back on the instruction of the Home Secretary but the result of this action is that the gap has actually widened in relation to stop and searches between black people and white British people. The irony of this situation is that violent crime on the streets of the UK and in particular, London, has risen and black people were 3.8 times as likely to be arrested as white British people.
Another subject of concern in the diaspora is the high number of their own who are committed to mental institutions under the Mental Health Act. Many argue that the pressures of society are, in some way, contributing to this situation. Black Caribbean people had the highest rate of detention out of all ethnic groups and with a figure of 254 detainees for every 100, 000 people, this was 3.7 times as high as the rate for British people (69 in 100, 000). Alarmingly and disappointingly, 4, 800 black adults per 100, 000 used mental health and learning disability services over the period under review.
These figures linked with those of other aforementioned categories paint a forlorn and depressing picture for black people in the UK. The figures for homeownership and renting are perhaps instructive of the society in which black people live at the bottom of every ladder. Home ownership is 37 per cent, whereas it is 68 per cent for British white and almost half of all Afro-Caribbean people live in rented social housing against 16 per cent of white British.
The question therefore, is, are black Afro-Caribbean people craftsmen of their own destiny or have they been submerged in the seas of prejudice and unequal opportunities? The government report, in its effort to clarify and report candidly, has perhaps opened a can of worms. It has shown the society for what it is in modern Britain. The report also gives a sweeping view of the situation with the black diaspora but it must not be forgotten that there are many high achievers in our midst.
However, the real deal is that too many of our people have been left behind and there seems to be no sign that the tide is turning in their favour.
Vincent ‘Boo’ Nurse is a Barbadian living in London who is a retired land Revenue Manager, Pensions and Investment Adviser. He is passionate about the development of his island home and disapora.