U.K. Conservative Party government report: ‘Institutional racism’ doesn’t exist
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson. A report commissioned by his government on race declared institutional racism doesn't exist and tried to sanitize the experience of colonial slavery. | Stefan Rousseau / Pool via AP

LONDON—United Nations experts slammed the recent race report commissioned by Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party government in the U.K., warning that it attempts to “normalize white supremacy.”

The U.N. Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent said it “categorically rejects and condemns” the findings of Johnson’s Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (CRED).

CRED’s report, released last month, found that Britain is no longer a country where the “system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities.” It found no evidence of institutional racism in Britain and criticized the widespread use of the phrase, saying it should not be used as a “catch-all.”

But the U.N. group said that the report “repackages racist tropes and stereotypes into fact, twisting data and misapplying statistics and studies.” It said Johnson’s report “cites dubious evidence to make claims that rationalize white supremacy by using the familiar arguments that have always justified racial hierarchy.

“This attempt to normalize white supremacy despite considerable research and evidence of institutional racism is an unfortunate sidestepping of the opportunity to acknowledge the atrocities of the past and the contributions of all to move forward.”

The experts said the report’s suggestion that the family structure, rather than institutionalized discrimination, is a central part of the Black experience is a “tone-deaf attempt at rejecting the lived realities of people of African descent and other ethnic minorities in the U.K.”

The report also failed to recognize accounts of institutional racism raised in domestic reports and by international human rights experts, the group added.

In the CRED report’s foreword, commission chairman Dr. Tony Sewell said that teaching resources should look at how the British empire “influenced the Commonwealth” and how local communities influenced “modern Britain.”

It also pointed to “a new story about the Caribbean experience which speaks to the slave period not only being about profit and suffering but how culturally African people transformed themselves into a remodeled African/Britain.”

But the U.N. experts said the report’s “mythical representation of enslavement is an attempt to sanitize the history of the trade in enslaved Africans.”

“The distortion and falsification of these historic facts may license further racism, the promotion of negative racial stereotypes, and racial discrimination,” they added.

Weyman Bennett, co-convener of the anti-racist organization Stand Up to Racism, said the experts were right to make their “unprecedented” intervention to reject “the government’s racist propaganda, which is aimed at dividing black and white communities.”

“Misdirection about Tory corruption and negligence over COVID deaths is the key camouflage for this report,” he added.

Black Activists Rising Against Cuts co-founder Zita Holbourne said: “To live free of racism is a human right, so it’s important for global bodies like the U.N. to speak out on the failings of the U.K. government.

“It’s about time that the government acknowledged the responses to the report and withdrew it. But it’s also way overdue that they started taking racism in all its forms seriously and taking action against it and to prevent it, rather than trying to gaslight those with lived experience of racism.”

Holbourne said that the government “ought to be embarrassed” by the U.N.’s response and should “take this moment to seriously act” in response to widespread condemnation of its report.

A spokesman for Johnson’s No. 10 Downing Street office said the U.N. group “misrepresents the findings” of the CRED report. A CRED spokesman said it was disappointed by the experts’ “gross misrepresentation” of the report and that its recommendations will “help deliver a fairer society for all races and ethnicities in the U.K.”

Morning Star


Ceren Sagir
Ceren Sagir

Ceren Sagir is a reporter and deputy news editor for Morning Star, the English-language socialist daily newspaper from Britain, and the UK representative for Halk TV, a Turkish nationwide TV channel.