Could it be that the people behind the report share similar experiences of racism but now deny its impact? The conclusions in the report are a missed opportunity, particularly for young people who already feel let down by society and policymakers. It is a missed opportunity to bring communities together to address the issues caused by institutional and systemic racism in the UK.
70% of the young people we support come from an ethnic minority background, many of whom are facing difficulties growing up in a society deeply divided. All of them are facing huge challenges in managing destructive conflict in their lives. Most will see some of their own experiences reflected in Gabin’s personal account of racism. This report denies that systemic and institutional racism exists, and contradicts what other official reports have highlighted over the years:
The McPherson report (1999), which had been commissioned following the murder of Stephen Lawrence by a group of white youths, highlighted that the police investigation of the murder had been badly handled by the Police, with institutional racism being one of the key reasons cited.
The Lammy Review (2017) found significant racial bias in the UK justice system. Highlighted in the report was the disproportionate representation of people from ethnic minority backgrounds in the criminal justice system, and the highest arrest rates of these groups in comparison with white groups. The review included no less than 35 recommendations to improve accountability, transparency and practice in the criminal justice system. Interestingly enough, the review included findings from the 2015 Crime Survey for England and Wales, where 51% of people from ethnic minority backgrounds born in England and Wales believed that the criminal justice system discriminated against particular groups.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission’s own Race report (2016) shows that race remains the most commonly recorded motivation for hate crime. Their report also shows that people from ethnic backgrounds do better in education than white people, yet they are still more likely to be unemployed and receive lower pay.
Government statistics and research confirm that Black people are more likely to be stopped and searched, murdered and excluded from school. If data is not enough to convince the government of this, we invite them to speak with a Leap graduate or community leader partnering with us. In their own words, they will share how they have been systemically targeted by the police, or how they struggle in school, and their sense that their job opportunities and prospects are few and far between compared with their white peers. If systemic racism is not the cause, then how else can the government explain the inequality that exists amongst black and white communities over generations?
Contrary to the report’s conclusions, we believe that institutional racism does exist. Not only does it exist; it destroys the lives of many. Denial only prolongs the healing that needs to take place. We witness the impact of racism in the care, education and employment sectors, and we will continue to campaign for policy change within the charity sector and advocate for wider national policy reform.
Last week, our staff and Senior Management Team signed Runnymede Trust’s Open Letter to Boris Johnson, rejecting the findings from the Race Report.