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Lives Not Labels

April 4, 2021 8:06 PM
By Rachel Dineley, Diversity Officer, Chesham and Amersham Liberal Democrats

Race reportLast week saw the publication of the report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities on race and ethnicity in the UK.

It has been rightly criticised for finding that there is no evidence of institutional racism in the UK. The term is a label, and perhaps an unhelpful one at that. Institutions are made up of people and we all know they are a very mixed bag indeed.

We did not need another Commission. What we have long needed is action, to tackle racial inequalities and injustice (which have been heightened by the pandemic).

For example, after leaving school, white working-class children are significantly more likely to be in work and earn more while in work. White university students perform significantly better in Higher Education (irrespective of socioeconomic status) and go on to earn more following graduation. Black Caribbean and mixed-race students are three times more likely to be expelled from school, with all of the life-long implications this then has.

In healthcare, black people in the UK are six times more likely to be sectioned; black women have a maternity-related mortality rate which is five times higher than the UK average and have an infant mortality rate which is twice that of the UK average.

In the justice system, black men are nine times more likely to be stopped and searched and young black people (under 16s) more likely to be given a criminal record for the same crimes as white children.

That the report has been highly selective in its focus comes as no surprise, from a government whose Home Secretary described Black Lives Matter as 'dreadful'. However, the fact that it picks and chooses evidence in order to reach a pre-ordained conclusion is abhorrent.

The report acknowledges that there is mistrust of institutions and calls for an Office for Health Disparities to be established. The way to rebuild trust is to undertake meaningful actions in which the public can have confidence and which get to grips with inequalities across education, healthcare, housing, the administration of justice and other public services.

There is an abundance of recommendations in both this and numerous previous reports. Implementing the best of them is long overdue.