Saturday, December 4

Conservatives are pitting the white working class against the blacks | Politics


meIt seems the government has found a new way to deal with deep-rooted racial inequality in the UK: ignore it, deny it and claim to those on the receiving end of racism that it is simply their ‘perception’ rather than their lived experience.

Worse still, part of this administration’s “radical” plan is to frame the debate, during this extraordinary year of disproportionate deaths from Covid-19 and the murder of George Floyd, in a way that labels Black Lives Matter and other activists and educators for racial equality as somehow conspiring against whites. And using this tactic in a particular and cynical way among working-class white voters in the North, many of whom played a significant role in the victory of last year’s conservative general election.

This new grand plan has taken months to craft, but it was formally unveiled last week by the two equality ministers, Liz Truss and Kemi Badenoch, and supported by their appointed czar for racial equality and chairman of the government commission on racial and ethnic disparities, Tony Sewell.

As a precursor to Truss’s speech last Thursday, Sewell, who was a controversial appointment due to his record of denying institutional racism – announced that his long-awaited report on Covid-19 and racial inequality would not deliver now before the end of the year. However, without his fellow commissioners discussing a draft, he said the report would “challenge perceptions of racism” and that “our early findings suggest that life chances are more influenced by age, gender, class and geography. than by race “. . In other words, despite the massive rise in awareness of racism around the world this year, government research will tell us that race is a minor consideration.

Sewell’s thinking ignores the myriad of government reports that expose deep-seated inequality, such as Lammy review racism within the criminal justice system, or the McGregor-Smith review of inequality in the workplace. And it seems that you are telling black British people that it is simply your “perception” that they are up to 19 times more likely to be arrested and searched by the police, more likely that officers will use force against them, even 58% more likely to be unemployedand up to 47% more likely to be working on zero-hour contracts.

I met Sewell and his commissioners this summer. He wanted to talk about racial disparities and how we could close them, but from the beginning of the conversation he wanted to focus on questions like, “How do we change the racial narrative?”, “How do we stop talking about things like ‘white privilege’?”

This was deeply frustrating. As I informed your team, we have a truly unique opportunity, in this historic year, to influence the prime minister and all government departments. And if they really want to change the language, they should first help change the systems that continue to produce such racial inequalities. The narrative will change automatically as the results improve.

However, it seems that the die was cast. Under this government, it seems that confronting racial inequality is the problem, and last week Liz Truss presented a grand “equality” plan that could turn the clock back 50 years.

In a strange speech, recalled his school days in Leeds in the 1980s: “Although we were taught about racism and sexism, we spent very little time making sure everyone could read and write.” Was he really saying that school children shouldn’t be taught about racism and sexism, because that would damage their literacy? Obviously someone in the government noticed how ridiculous the idea was, and those passages were deleted from the “Official version of his speech on the department’s website.

Truss’s take on the story echoed a similar imaginary scenario put forward by fellow Equality Minister Kemi Badenoch, who told a BBC podcast Last month, anti-racism activists wanted history to be taught “in a way that [suggests] good people [are] black people ”and“ bad people [are] white people. ”

This fanciful and misleading depiction of past and present education is allowing this government to frame a narrative that says our children are being brainwashed by anti-racists and that Black Lives Matter is just a “transient trend”(Badenoch’s words). It’s clearly a dog’s whistle to your new working-class northern voters, many of whom supported Brexit because oppose immigration.

For similar reasons, the government drastically cut spending on foreign aid, despite pledging to keep it in the conservative electoral manifesto just 12 months ago. Determined to keep their voters off the “red wall,” conservatives are taking a sheet from Donald Trump’s playbook pitting poor whites against black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. At a time when our nation needs to unite, this cynical agenda seeks to divide us.

In fact, this administration has mastered the tactic of making it look inclusive, by naming and promoting various blacks and Asians as cheerleaders for its hardline agenda. Dr. Raghib Ali was one of the last: he said systemic racism played no role on the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on black, Asian and ethnic minority communities. Therefore, it is not surprising that a recent YouGov poll showed that 84% of Britain’s ethnic minorities I think the UK is still racist.

As a longtime activist for racial equality who once proudly served as a commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, I have watched in despair as that previously independent institution has been blatantly politicized. Its black representation has been all but erased, to be replaced by figures such as racism denier David Goodhart, anti-feminist Jessica Butcher and Baroness Falkner, who believes that anti-Muslim public sentiment is “understandable.” Everything is deeply disturbing. It seems that the government is determined to waste this historic moment; in fact, to remove safeguards against racism rather than improve them.

Never before in my life has our society been more prepared to recognize and confront its profound racial inequalities; however, never before has a government seemed so willing to incorporate more of them.

Fortunately, large companies have responded fantastically to this moment, as have local authorities and virtually all academic institutions. Difficult conversations have been had and experiences have been heard; Historical facts have been exposed, the speculation of slavery in Britain has been debated, so that we better understand why things are so uneven.

People know that if we take care of this, everyone will benefit: black and white, north and south. Facing an uncertain 2021, we must not disappoint the young generation that took to the streets to demand a better world: they are a ray of hope and energy that must be recognized, listened to and supported.




www.theguardian.com

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