BME Forum ‘deeply troubled’ by Johnson’s racism report

Croydon’s Black and Minority Ethnic Forum has entered the row over the government’s controversial racism report that was published this week, saying that they were “deeply troubled” by its findings.

Tony Sewell: delivered the report that the racist Tory Prime Minister wanted

The report has been accused this week of cherry-picking “data to suit a predetermined narrative, and sets out to gaslight people of colour with a dismissal of their lived experience”.

The report was commissioned last year, in response to the Black Lives Matter protests after the death in the United States of George Floyd when he was being taken into custody by police. To chair the UK government’s commission, the Tory Prime Minister, Boris “water melon smiles” Johnson, appointed Tony Sewell, a long-term denier of institutional racism who has also been accused of homophobia.

Graffiti in Croydon 2020: according to Boris Johnson, this country is not racist

Johnson duly got the report that he wanted.

In an excellent analysis piece in Tribune magazine this week, Lester Holloway wrote that Sewell’s report “is saying that racism is a figment of people’s imaginations and they should get over it – an incredible statement given the mountain of evidence of disproportionate black, Asian and other minority ethnic unemployment and poverty”.

This, it is worthy of note, in a country where even today, according to the government’s own data and research, 1 in 4 Britons actually admit to being racially prejudiced.

Holloway, a former councillor in Sutton who now works for the TUC, writes, “Not content with dismissing lived experience and hard data, they go on to patronise ‘the idealism of those well-intentioned young people’ on Black Lives Matter protests, ‘who have held on to, and amplified, this inter-generational mistrust’.

Holloway’s article describes the Sewell report as “the latest weapon in the Tory culture war”, a studied and deliberate attempt to create friction and splits among the working class, of whatever creed or race.

The Financial Times’s take on the racism report

“Most people know that institutional and structural racism are not myths and it was notable that few public figures beyond right-wing a few ideologues were defending the report on TV and radio,” Holloway writes.

Patrick Vernon: the Sewell report is ‘from another universe’

“The closer the inspection, the more it falls apart. This commission was never seen as legitimate by many organisations who boycotted its consultation. Veteran activist Patrick Vernon appeared on BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show wearing a Star Trek t-shirt because, he said, the report came from another universe.

“Yet while the credibility of the report itself may be crumbling, the post-racial, post-factual narratives it pushes are set to be used by the government and right-wing media for some time to come.”

And in a statement issued yesterday, the Croydon BME Forum stated that they “will continue to tackle the very real threat of structural racism”.

A BLM protest in Croydon last year. But according to the Tory government, there is no racism in this country

The statement said, “The Croydon BME Forum was established due to the clear systemic racism that permeates our society.

“We have seen – first-hand – the detrimental effects of institutional racism within services covering health, education, employment and crime…

“We were deeply troubled to see the remarks made within the Race and Ethnic Disparities Report and are in the process of setting up a series of discussions to collect our communities’ views and experiences.”

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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5 Responses to BME Forum ‘deeply troubled’ by Johnson’s racism report

  1. I’ve been reading the report and I can’t find anything about there being no racism in the UK. What I do read is troubling stuff about inequality and class that shatters the BAME idea. Black Africans doing well, black african caribbeans and white working class doing poorly. It suggests a more intelligent approach is needed and not one that lumps everyone who isn’t white into a BAME ‘victim’ category. But that challenges the massivce vested interests.

    • Hey, Chris. In your detailed reading of the report, did you miss the bit where they say, “Put simply we no longer see a Britain where the system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities”?
      Or this bit: “Some argue this has just driven it underground where it operates as powerfully as ever to deny equality to ethnic minorities. That assumption is at odds with the stories of success that this report has found, together with survey evidence of dwindling White prejudice”?

      • Gosh. It’s unfair to imply that I have given the report a ‘detailed reading’. I’m still wading through it. Yesterday the commission issued a statement which said, “Sadly, in some cases fair and robust disagreement … has tipped into misrepresentation. (We) never said that racism does not exist in society or in institutions “We say the contrary: racism is real and we must do more to tackle it.”
        I hope the analysis they offered turns into real actions to end racism and inequality. BTW, were your extracts from the Torygraph’s summary ?

        • The Commission’s work was done with the pre-publication briefing that was issued to carefully selected outlets, and delivered the headlines the following morning, declaring that Britain is a racism-free zone and exemplar to the western world. It was a deliberate piece of media management and manipulation, and it is what will be remembered by the majority of people long after you have finished wading through line-by-line of the commission’s report.

          And in answer to your own question, no they were not.

  2. Lewis White says:

    We have come a long way since the terrrible days when boarding houses could display notices saying “No blacks, no Irish, no dogs”. I know just how real this discrimination was back in the 1930’s to 60’s from studying the inspirational story of Jamaican-born South London GP Doctor Harold Moody, founder of the League of Coloured Peoples (the British organisation) , and of Una Marston, Jamaican born and then the first black female producer in UK and Empire radio.

    These two people overcame discrimination and achieved significant success, through their talent, dint of character, grit, sheer determination to stand up to discrimnation, sustained hard work–and support from others both black and white. I hope that over the second half of the 20th C, Britain has become welcoming, whether in small, day-to-day ways, or in its institutions.

    Where would Britain be without the people who left their homes in Ireland, the Caribbean, the Indian sub-continent, and Africa, to come and work in the UK ? There would be no NHS as we know it, for a start.

    It is without doubt one of the things that makes me pleased to be living in today’s Britain that peoples of all ethnicities and colour have found a decent life and –in many cases– huge success, in career, status and above all, human acceptance, from the wider population.

    Eastern Europeans, people from Turkey, France Spain and Portugal, South America, and elsewher, have come and enriched our society.

    No doubt, we still have many miles to go, and address the descrimination that sadly lies within human hearts. I only realised a few years back, that EVERY generation has to re-confront its own and its inherited prejudices, and hopefully, overcome them, and ratchet the country forward to a better society.

    My guess is that there is stlil a culture of descrimination in parts of some companies, some councils, and in some police forces, which is why open recruitment and pro-active marketing of opportunities is essential at all levels, and why –in particular- the police in London should aim to be proportional in reflecting the ethnic backgrounds of the population…and above all, be welcoming.

    There are so many “Key needs” for the UK, pre and post Brexit. Getting white working class young people engaged in education and having aspirations has been and is one of the keyest of these. Affordable housing another.

    But surely, racism and discrimination lie in our own hearts?. Without that, institutions would be free of these scourges.

    It’s down to all of us to do our bit. But recruiters and policy-makers have a huge duty.

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