Race report does not reflect life experience
LIKE many people who have been and are serious about improving race relations in this country, I was eagerly awaiting the publication of the report by the Downing Street’s Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which was officially released on Thursday.
This commission was to be managed by Ms Munira Mirza, a previous work colleague of Boris Johnson and the person appointed to chair the commision was another former work colleague of Boris Johnson, one Dr Tony Sewell.
These two, apart from both being ex-work colleagues of Mr Johnson, have something else in common, about the state of racism in our society.
Ms Mirza has previously said that “it seems that a lot of people in politics think it’s a good idea to exaggerate the problem of racism’,’ while Dr Sewell has written in the Prospect Magazine in 2010, saying that “much of the supposed evidence of institutional racism is flimsy’.’
So, in a word, in their minds, there was nothing to look at in this area.
So, unsurprisingly, the report’s bland findings about racism in our country were criticised by Simon Wolley, head of Downing Street’s race disparity unit, for disrespecting and disregarding people’s lived experience.
He continued: “If you deny structural race inequality then you’ve got nothing to do and that, in itself, is a huge problem.
“There are shocking disparities and shocking outcomes in health, education and housing.”
The report has been variously described as being culturally deaf, out of step with public opinion and steeped in denial.
As someone who has been very active in reducing effects of racism in our society, I can vouch first-hand about what often happens in employment areas.
In one of my previous roles, where the engineering company employed over 650 people, I inquired of a manager colleague what he was planning to do that afternoon.
He replied without much prompting that he had to interview four candidates for a senior position, and that he was not looking forward to it.
As we only usually worked about two hours in the afternoon, I asked if he would have enough time to interview the four candidates properly. He replied that as the candidates were all “foreigners”, the interviews will not last that long.
In my heart, I worried about how the four candidates would not be given a fair chance for the job in question, and I complained about my colleague’s attitude to our personnel department but, as far as I know, nothing further was done by the company.
Coinciding with the publication of the report, I hear that Samuel Kasumu, Mr Johnson’s adviser for civil society and communities, has resigned from his role due to “unbearable” tension in Downing Street.
Suresh Chauhan, Glen Parva