Suffolk campaigners 'disappointed' in report which 'whitewashes' UK racism

Phanuel Mutumburi of the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality said the report whitewashed issues of prejudice

Phanuel Mutumburi of the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality said the report whitewashed issues of prejudice - Credit: ISCRE

A long-anticipated government review of racism in the UK has been criticised by the Ipswich and Suffolk Council for Racial Equality, which argues it 'whitewashes' issues faced by black and minority ethnic people.

The report of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities was called for last summer, in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests.

It was finally published on Wednesday with the finding that Britain is no longer a country where the "system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities".

The Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities said geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture and religion all impact life chances more than racism, in a report commissioned in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.

It also criticised the "confusing" way the term "institutional racism" has been applied, saying this should only be used when deep-seated, systemic racism is proved and not as a "catch-all" phrase for any microaggression.

However Phanuel Mutumburi, business and operations director for ISCRE, said the report had "whitewashed" the numerous challenges faced by minorities and implied the problems were instead caused by their own communities.

He said: "We at ISCRE are disappointed by the Commission’s report into racial and ethnic disparities in the UK.

"Whilst huge strides have been made in tackling racism in the four decades since the establishment of ISCRE, challenges remain across communities in Suffolk.

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"The focus of this report on the BAME term and denial of the existence of institutional racism undermines the lived-experiences of those from minority ethnic communities experiencing unlawful discrimination on a daily basis.

"Clearly an opportunity has been missed by this report to help create equality of opportunity for all, especially coming at the back of stark inequalities exposed by the Covid-19 and the Windrush scandal. “

The 258-page document said many 'microaggressions' were wrongly classed as 'institutional racism'.

Chair of the group, Dr Tony Sewell CBE, said some groups' "historic experience of racism still haunts the present and there was a reluctance to acknowledge that the UK had become open and fairer".

The report criticised the use of 'unconscious bias training' and the term BAME for Black and Minority Ethnic people — a move condemned as insulting to those who experience racism every day.

Campaigners, unions and opposition MPs have reacted to the review with anger, disappointment and sorrow.

The report contained 24 recommendations, including calls for increased scrutiny of body-worn police footage of stop and searches, more detailed, publicly available data, more local recruitment within police forces, and improved training to help officers interact with the communities they serve.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the Government will consider the recommendations, adding: "The entirety of Government remains fully committed to building a fairer Britain and taking the action needed to address disparities wherever they exist."

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