When the Government’s Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (CRED) published its latest report on racism in Britain, which, for the purposes of this article we shall call the Sewell Report after the chairman of the body, Tony Sewell, it caused instant uproar. The government was looking for some way of answering the Black Lives Matter (BLM) groups that have been formed in Britain following the huge social movement of the same name in the USA that has arisen in response to continuing police assassinations of black people on American streets.
It is apparent that some people had already decided that the Sewell report would just be a sop to black people’s experience of racism and a cover up for a government that is increasingly using force on the streets to contain any criticism of themselves and their policies. Without even giving the ink time to dry, let alone giving enough time for anyone to read, digest and analyse the report, a scream of left-liberal rage went up as Mr Sewell was likened to the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. One Labour Party MP (Clive Lewis) tweeted that Tony Sewell “belonged in the Ku Klux Klan”. Add to this the instant wails of house negro, Uncle Tom, token, racism denier, slavery apologist, and race traitor, coming from leading representatives of anti-racist charities and organisations and you can plainly see where liberal-left identity politics have brought us and where they are leading us.
Tony Sewell had apparently stated that the evidence for “institutional racism” is “somewhat flimsy” prior to being selected as the chairman of this commission. That he doesn’t accept the concept of institutional racism is, from the government’s point of view, something that made him perfect for the job, as those who really run this country and depend totally on their parliamentary law-makers, judicial and police law-enforcers, their armed services and the weighty number of other organisations that exercise power over us do not want their institutions scrutinised or the ‘isms’ that are used to break up working class unity recognised as being a large part of what these institutions use to keep control.
But what did the Sewell report say re institutional racism?
The Commission in their report said they had “argued for the use of the term ‘institutional racism’ to be applied only when deep-seated racism can be proven on a systemic level and not be used as a general catch-all phrase for any microaggression, witting or unwitting”. In conclusion they said that “while there was anecdotal evidence of racism”, they denied that “there was any proof that it was structural,” adding that there were data to show “some ethnic minorities were doing well in the jobs market and in education.”
We can only disagree with the idea that institutional racism does not exist, it is a necessary part of the capitalist/imperialist structure. It is through the institutions of a capitalist society that the desired anti working class unity ideals are fed into the populace. Racism, sexism and all other isms that divide workers regardless of their own interests are drip-fed, not overtly but certainly constantly, disguised by a blanket of anti-racist (and any other isms) rules that are paid lip-service to. Often, the organised opponents of racism, etc., help to propagate the very thing that they are there to oppose. When we are told by black groups that “only black people can understand and change the crime that is racism” it can drive any white people who may agree that racism is a crime away from the struggle; when women’s groups tell us that only women can understand and change the crimes that are misogyny and sex discrimination, the same hardening of a divide among us is committed. It has been proven that when the class system is overthrown these divisions among us disappear and that if the class system is re-introduced these divisions make a speedy come-back as well. In the capitalist class system all workers are competitors with each other for jobs, housing, education, etc., and they will tend to form into groups of those most like themselves, even though all are competitors, in order to seek protection and advantage.
This, hopefully, explains not only why the Sewell report is wrong on institutionalised racism but also why much of the rabid response to the report is also protecting racism. Racism must be challenged, but the political system we live under that creates much of that racism must also be challenged as, without doing away with capitalism, there is no hope of eradicating racism.
The Sewell report has also recommended that the acronym BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) should no longer be used, as differences between groups are often as important as what they have in common when studying a society. The report also points out that this trendy left-liberal acronym “disguises huge differences in outcomes between ethnic groups” which “allows our institutions and businesses to point to the success of some BAME people in their organisation and absolve themselves of responsibility for people from those minority groups that are doing less well”. We agree that the use of such acronyms probably bring more confusion among the oppressed than they will ever bring about any unity of the oppressed.
The report says: “The commission rejects the common view that ethnic minorities have universally worse health outcomes compared with white people, the picture is much more variable.”
The Sewell report points to the fact that ethnic minorities had better outcomes for some key measures like life expectancy, overall mortality and key diseases and conditions saying: “This evidence clearly suggests that ethnicity is not the major driver of health inequalities in the UK but deprivation, geography and differential exposure to key risk factors.” The conclusion was that much more research be given to the reasons for these differences between various groups.
We find it quite unbelievable that the report does point at the reasons for bad health in some groups and then does not follow the reams of published data that explains this. Simply put, if you are poor and live in a poor and run-down area with the lowest healthcare and are eating un-nutritious food, and sometimes not even that, your clothing doesn’t protect you from the weather and you cannot heat your home, if you have one; if you live close to a factory pumping out fumes all day, every day, if, the stress of all this is adversely affecting your mental health, it doesn’t matter what colour or ethnicity you are, your overall health cannot but be bad! There will be different racial groups in different locations whose health will differ but whatever racial group they belong to if they are poor and working-class their overall health will be worse than that of those who are better off.
On the subject of education, the report does rightly say that children from many non-white communities do perform as well or even better than white pupils in compulsory education, with the exception of black male Caribbean pupils whose performance as a group is often below their white counterparts.
Comparing GCSE grades in English and maths, the Sewell report says that the white British group ranked 10th in attainment, while the Chinese and Indian ethnic groups outperform that group by wide margins leaving the Commission to conclude that education had been the “single most emphatic success story of the British ethnic minority experience”, though it acknowledged that some groups “experience lower than average educational outcomes which can have a significant impact on employment rates, earnings and general wellbeing”.
The report states that a higher percentage of ethnic minority young people attend university compared with white British young people, but (giving the lie to the Commission’s earlier views re institutional racism) it is the latter who have the best outcomes at top universities!
Another area of education where some of the left-liberals have been outraged by the report is when it says: “Pupils should be exposed to the ‘rich variety’ of British culture including empire and the arrival of the Windrush generation.” In our view the Empire, its causes and its vile practices in their entirety should be taught to all our children, but, again, this will not happen properly in a capitalist society as that society needs to hide and misrepresent its past.
It is with policing that the Commission performed its biggest omission of facts. It rightly concluded that black people were disproportionately victims of violent crime and homicide. For every white victim of homicide aged 16 to 24 in the year 2018/19, there were 24 black victims, the report stated.
But what of the numbers of black people targeted by the police for arrest/beatings, what of the serious problems around stop and search in predominantly black areas or of black people generally in non-black areas? What of the disproportionate punishments and jail sentences suffered by black people? Instead, we are told that black police officers suffer racism from the public!
On the whole, the Sewell report has given us little that is new, but one gets the idea that it wasn’t supposed to. It gives us nothing towards a greater understanding between black and white workers but, again, we don’t think it was supposed to and the response from some of the anti-racist groups has definitely helped to push black and white a little further apart.
Whatever our colour or ethnicity, or our place of birth, workers need to learn that it is only when all communities of workers are united that we become strong.