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Racism in the United Kingdom has been the subject of much heated debate for decades.
It is now being broadly and heatedly discussed after a Report commissioned by Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson has claimed that institutional racism does not exist in the UK.
This report is one of so many that it seems over the years there have been more of them than I have had pot dinners.
The findings have polarised opinion and Barbadian Member of Parliament in the House of Lords, Lord Simon Woolley in a scathing attack told Barbados TODAY that the Report is most deceitful and disingenuous.
He added that it is most unlike any other written by either a black or white person.
The former Chairman of the Race Disparity Unit Advisory Group 10 Downing Street (Prime Minister’s Official Residence) and recently elected Principal of Homerton College, Cambridge University, is quite incensed over the issue and he accused the authors of the Report of drawing conclusions without having interviewed those who are directly affected by racism.
Lord Woolley said that the Commissioners of the Inquiry can be accused of trampling on black peoples’ experiences in the act of trying to rewrite history.
Last summer Prime Minister Johnson invited Dr Tony Sewell to chair a Commission to investigate race and ethnic disparities in the UK, because he (Johnson) felt the UK needed to consider important questions about the state of race relations today and why so many disparities exist.
He invited them to make recommendations regarding the steps that should be taken to deal with the problems. But how can they make recommendations when they do not believe that the problem exists? The Commissioners, of whom they were ten, consisting of one white person, came from a broad section of the community and alarmingly arrived at their verdict.
It begs the question, have the Commissioners ever travelled on the upper deck of a London omnibus or, more unlikely have they ever sat on the terraces at a football match on a Saturday afternoon? If they have had any of these experiences they could not have come to their bizarre conclusion.
I earlier stated that they have before been inquiries following on events in London that greatly impacted on the minds of Black people in the UK.
After much interrogation at inquiries which lasted many months the learned Lord Scarman (Brixton riots) and Lord McPherson (Black teenage Stephen Lawrence’s murder) independently concluded that there is institutional racism in the UK and in the particular case of Lord McPherson, he held the view that some of the institutional racism rested within the Police establishment. The judgement of these gentlemen give food for thought as we mull over the findings of the Sewell Committee.
Here we have two white Oxbridge educated pillars of the society who no doubt, in examining evidence from all quarters, concluded that institutional racism is very much inherent in our society and yet a government-appointed committee which consisted mainly of members from the ethnic community has given a view that there is no institutional racism in the UK.
Are they trying to pull the wool over our eyes in an effort to placate the powers that be who sit in judgement and authority over the black people of this country? Little wonder therefore that the white inhabitants could chose to ignore a charge of racism when they note that an essentially Black body in reporting to the Prime Minister has sought to remove doubts about the existence of institutional racism.
Of course, life is not ever simple, and reports are coming out that some of the members of the Committee, perhaps in a state of bashful guilt are claiming that the Report as given in the British press has been rewritten at No. 10 Downing Street, and further allege that their work on equality has been distorted.
Accusations that Munira Mirza, Director of No 10’s Policy Unit was heavily involved in steering the direction of the supposedly independent Report were not directly addressed by a No 10 spokesman who said: “I would reiterate the Report is independent and the government is committed to tackling inequalities.”
Racism, whether practised overtly or covertly is inherent in our society and cannot be washed away by a report of ten blinkered academics who reportedly claim that it does not exist.
The matter needs to be tackled at grassroots particularly in the schools and only then will progress to eradication be made. It will be a long haul and we need to be led by a government that is not afraid to call a spade a spade.
The passing of Emeritus Professor Calvin Holder Recently the achievements of Professor Emeritus Calvin Beresford Holder were applauded in this column. It is with deep sadness that I have to report the passing of an outstanding Barbadian who recently died in London.
This column conveys its deepest sympathy to his family in Barbados and particularly to his daughters Oshun and Aishaa who reside in New York. To them I say: “Say not in grief that he is no more but live in thankfulness that he was.”
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.