The report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities has been met with widespread criticism. More than 250 experts on race, education, health and economics have criticised its “selective and distorted use of academic research”.
MIND, the mental health charity, immediately published its statistics on institutionalised racism in mental health care. Writers and academics named as contributors to the report have denied making any contribution to it and have distanced themselves from the report’s findings. Campaigners for those affected by the Windrush scandal point out that the issue is only referred to twice within the 258 pages of the report. They argue that to have done so would have acknowledged that there was a systematic, structural failure in how the Home Office targeted the Windrush generation and that the Home Office had displayed “institutional ignorance and thoughtlessness” on race issues. “There seems to be a misconception that racism is confined to decisions made with racists motivations …. This is a misunderstanding of both the law and racism generally.” Wendy Williams (Lessons Learned report author). Most shockingly, the report argues that by becoming culturally British, black people were somehow beneficiaries of the slave trade. This same argument was used 200 year ago by slave owners. “It is forgetting the hundreds of years of crimes against the African people, the deaths of millions of African men, women and children”. (Professor Hakim Adi).
The Macpherson report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence, published in 1999, forced the establishment to accept that institutional racism existed in Britain. It elevated its definition above politics and demonstrated how dangerous it is when prejudice and stereotyping are allowed to go unchallenged in powerful institutions that exert control over people.
Boris Johnson lacks the moral fibre and integrity of Macpherson. A long-standing stranger to truth he was never going to address the issues of race and racism prevalent in this country. The message from the report is a clear and simple one: people of colour should stop complaining and be thankful for their lot.
Johnson’s mask continues to slip. How much further will it have to go before the British public sees the horrendous reality concealed behind it.