British sports stars should follow the example of those in the US ‘taking a knee’ in protest against racial injustice in America.
Kehinde Andrews: Tokenism at its worst, from a government that doesn’t actually care
On 10 October 2017, when the government published its audit on race equality in the UK, Theresa May said, “People who have lived with discrimination don’t need a government audit to make them aware of the scale of the challenge. But this audit means that for society as a whole – for government, for our public services – there is nowhere to hide. These issues are now out in the open. And the message is very simple: if these disparities cannot be explained then they must be changed.”This audit is the worst kind of token gesture, made by a government that has no interest in addressing the systematic racial injustice. From the beginning it was an exercise in futility, gathering data that we already have to tell a story we are all well aware of. Racial inequality is as British as a cup of tea, and if the government did not know the scale of the problem before the audit then we should dissolve parliament immediately on the grounds of incompetence.
Rather than address the problem of racism the government is using the report as a symbolic exercise to show ministers care. They don’t. Theresa May has been part of a government that has made almost every indicator of racial equality worse over the past seven years. Even the minimal efforts on stop and search were mostly superficial, publishing the stats but not really addressing the issue.
Stop and search rates remain disproportionately high, and the underlying problem of ethnic minority communities and the criminal injustice system remains exactly the same. Austerity also hit these communities the hardest, while running down sectors such as education that are supposedly meant to address inequality.
The attack on public sector jobs has been particularly damaging to black communities who rely on the state for careers due to severe employment discrimination. As home secretary, May presided over one of the most racist periods of Britain’s migration policy, with “Go Home” vans, mass deportations and a willingness to let black bodies drown in the Mediterranean as a deterrent. It is offensive that this same prime minister and her government are using a completely empty gesture to burnish their racial justice credentials. The report is not welcome, and is actually a backward step in addressing the serious issues that Britain faces as a nation.
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