COMMISSION ON RACE AND ETHNIC DISPARITIES' FINDINGS: BRIDGING CHANGE RESPONSE
The report from the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities has been deeply disappointing. This report after reflecting on the impact of education, community, health (including COVID-19), employment, crime and policing on minoritised ethnic people concluded that institutional racism does not exist. Bridging Change strongly disagrees with the validity of the findings, its conclusions and the "changing the narrative" motivation which has sought to undermine the experience of racism of minoritised ethnic people in Britain.
Whilst reading the report we have chosen not to make a detailed response at this time, as the problematic framing of issues in the report are too extensive to broach here. However, this response will draw on a few of the report's findings. In every area the Commission examined disparity, they constructed imaginative ways to excuse racial or ethnic disparity, suggesting instead that they were due to factors such as:
. . . living in a densely populated inner-city area, socio-demographic characteristics (deprivation and occupation)
living in larger and multi-generational households.
The report also blames poorer outcomes for Black, Asian and minoritised ethnic people with: poor and/or lone parenting; co-morbidities; counting methods or simply not liking the numbers. The report, for example, describes stop and search figures from Devon (where there are lower numbers of Black and Asian minoritised ethnic people, specifically Black people) as 'skewed' - but the fact remains, not liking the odds does not diminish simple mathematics. Suggesting that the 'national relative rate is not always accurate' at measuring stop and search rates is problematic, it appears in this report 'not always accurate' refers to when facts do not suit the Government's narrative.
Whilst the report acknowledges the disparity of maternal deaths for Black (5 times higher) and Asian (2 times higher), it calls for using absolute numbers, as not to do so was 'unfair to expectant mothers everywhere'. Previous commentary have contextualised the figures in terms of per 100,000, in absolute numbers and/or disparity is attempted to diminish the significance and importance of disparity. It does not change the fact the Black women are 5 times more likely to die in childbirth compared to white women; Asian and mixed heritage women are almost 2 times likely more likely to die in childbirth than white women. Further, disparity in maternal health is symptomatic of negative outcomes faced by men, women and children from Black, Asian and minoritised ethnic groups, particularly those minoritised ethnic people who are not white.
Using the highly divisive stereotype of 'model minority' as if this was an antidote to racism is a privileged and uninformed construction of meritocracy. This 'model minority' construction was pitted against other minoritised ethnic people who were constructed as living with family breakdown, being unprepared and demotivated to succeed, as were 'attitudes to integrate'. Both stereotypes are equally damaging in suggesting that one group of minoritised ethnic people are hapless whilst the other minoritised ethnic group simply floats through British life without barriers or experiencing racism. Outrageous still is the polling by British Future for the Commission who heralded their poll as 'encouraging' around perceptions on anti-Black prejudice, which asked respondents if they 'saw a lot' of prejudice against Black people. They asked people who were not Black if there were increased level of prejudice for Black people. The only people who can credibly pass comment on the Black experience of racism is Black people, how can any other ethnic group assume to know how racism is experienced by another ethnic group?
The report is constantly looking for creative adjustments, reframing, excusing and attempting to undermine disparity for Black and Asian minoritised ethnic people. The report is outrageous in its findings, in its bid to 'change the narrative' and to conclude that institutional racism does not exist is astonishingly inaccurate, premised on creative, misleading evidence and lack academic rigour.
At Bridging Change we will focus on the reality of instititional and systemic racism and move away from the Commission's misleading conclusion in its attempt to 'change the narrative'. We want to reclaim the narrative which acknowledges the impact of the 'hostile environment' and the disproportionately negative impact and outcomes for Black, Asian and minoritised ethnic people in the the UK.