When others were toppling statues, “taking the knee”, and jumping on the “Black Lives Matter” bandwagon, Boris Johnson set up a Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities. Its report, published last month, has been dismissed by some critics as a whitewash and the ten-member commission’s chairman, Tony Sewell, branded as everything from an Uncle Tom to a Josef Goebbels lookalike.
So what does the report actually say? Racism is a “real force” in the United Kingdom (UK), but the system is no longer “rigged against ethnic minorities”. Disparities exist, but very few are directly to do with racism, which is too often used as a “catch-all explanation”.
Blaming failure among minorities on discrimination by whites diverts attention from other causes, including culture and attitudes in minority communities, among them family breakdown.
The official term BAME (for black, Asian, and minority ethnic) is no longer helpful because it disguises “huge differences” within minority communities. The pay gap between all ethnic minorities and the white majority population has shrunk to 2.3% overall, and is barely significant for employees under 30.
With the exception of black Caribbeans, children from minority communities do as well or better than whites in compulsory education. Success in education has “transformed British society over the last 50 years into one offering far greater opportunities for all”. New arrivals in the UK see education as a way out of poverty and have seized on educational opportunities and achieved “remarkable social mobility”, making education the “single most emphatic success story of the British ethnic minority experience”.
The report says that many first-generation immigrants experienced downward social mobility, but that the second generation has “caught up and in some cases surpassed white people”. This progress has mostly taken place in the last two decades and has been “imperfect and mixed”. Ethnic minority candidates find it more difficult than whites to obtain jobs. Britain, the report says, is as not yet a “post-racial society”, but neither is it a place where “the system” is “deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities”.