Commission on Race and Ethics Disparities – Coventry City #UNISON Branch Committee – 13/04/21

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The Commission on Race and Ethics Disparities government report came out 31st March 2021 in response to the protests at the murder of George Floyd and the formation of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The report covers health, education, crime and policing and employment and was chaired by Tony Sewell. 

It concludes, institutionalised and structural racism does not exist in the UK because things have moved on and improved–we are in [quote] “the era of participation” .

It recognises that racism does exist in various forms but there was no evidence that it is to blame. Sewell argues that inequalities are due to other factors such as, socio-economic, cultural, religious, family influence, geographical, individual responsibility and attitude – and that the root of disadvantages suffered by black communities is “broken families” and “father absence”.

The disproportionate number of deaths from Covid amongst Black communities/workers is largely due to low paid, high-risk jobs, most of which are public facing, on zero, part-time contracts and workers and their families living in over- crowded poorly maintained housing. We know that Black workers are stuck in these jobs and living conditions, unable to move on, because of institutionalised and structural racism. The report denies there is a direct link between over-crowded housing, the deaths of Black workers on the frontline during the pandemic, the Grenfell fire, the Windrush scandal and racial discrimination because, “outcomes such as these do not come by design, and are certainly not deliberately targeted”.

The report claims there is no evidence to suggest that Black communities suffering systematic racism has a negative effect on mental or physical health, on housing, employment, income or education because otherwise this would be reflected in overall mortality figures which in these communities is lower.

Sewell argues, we should not focus on race and racism because poverty and poor education because it also affects white people.

Academics, organisations named as contributors have claimed they were not contacted by the Commission, unaware and horrified to discover they were listed. Others have said they have been misinterpreted, it is based on outdated research and distanced themselves from the report.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/07/uk-public-health-expert-michael-marmot-criticises-no-10-race-report-shortcomings

Report introduction and recommendations 

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-report-of-the-commission-on-race-and-ethnic-disparities/foreword-introduction-and-full-recommendations