Halima Begum, CEO of the Runnymede Trust, said the report was “shocking”. She added: “This isn’t about facts, evidence, or policy, this is about culture war posturing.”
During the discussion, Nandini Archer, openDemocracy’s global commissioning editor, noted that the Conservative government has a relatively diverse cabinet, and as the report’s authors were people of color, asked: “What does this say about having Brown and Black faces in high places?”
Andrews said in response that you can’t expect diversity to “be the thing to fix structural racism”, given that the current cabinet is the country’s most ethnically diverse to date, yet also one of the most racist. “The people who administered the British empire were hugely diverse.”
Begum said that the fact that people of colour wrote the report actually “proves the case of structural racism” because it’s not about “individual actions… but rather the system”.
Ignoring the data
Marcus Ryder, executive producer of new media at the Chinese media group Caixin Global, said that the report lends legitimacy to “a very fringe perspective”, and that it will give license to individuals to deny the existence of structural, institutional racism.
“The idea that anybody who is in the state, in government, in public institutions, denying institutional racism,”' Ryder said. “It was more or less a settled argument. It is now unsettled.”
Kemi Akinola, CEO of the charity Be Enriched and managing director of the social enterprise Brixton People’s Kitchen, said that she was curious if the report’s policy recommendations would be effective if implemented. Among the report’s recommendations were the usage of data to determine and measure the implementation of public policy.
However, as the panellists noted, the report actually ignores data that illustrates racial disparities linked to structural racism, and there is a multitude of data linked to inequality that could be collected but the government fails to do so.
“The area that I work in is food poverty and food insecurity, and I’ve been pushing for years for measurements of food poverty and food insecurity across the board,” Akinola said. “Who are the people experiencing this, and what is their income and why? But of course, once you record this information… then you have to do something about it.”
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