NRJ Outrage at the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities Report

The Race Equality team at City, University of London stands in solidarity with and fully supports our staff network, the Network for Racial Justice (NRJ), in their statement and our continued goals to challenge systemic inequities, support students and staff experiencing racism and discrimination and to create racial equity and racial justice, among others.

The NRJ statement below has been issued in response to the recent report released by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities Report in March 2021. (This report can be found here)

NRJ Outrage at the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities Report

It is with great consternation and outrage that City’s Network for Racial Justice (NRJ) members read the findings of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities Report published on Thursday 31 March.

To claim that ‘we no longer see a Britain where the system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities’ is to deny the lived experiences of racialised communities across the UK and flout decades’ long academic research evidencing widespread institutional and structural racism across all areas of life. We know only too well from our own institutional data (which reflects sector-wide trends) the disparities in degree awarding and staff progression that are perpetuated by the unequal and unjust institutional structures and processes within Higher Education.

The report itself is emblematic of the institutional racism that it denies, gaslighting racialised communities and dismissing the lived experience of racial injustice felt through the education system, criminal justice system, the labour market, health outcomes and housing.

We cannot change what we deny.

The NRJ stands in solidarity with anti-racism campaigners across the UK in condemning this inherently biased and disgraceful report, which is lacking in both evidence and credibility. Published in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, and against the backdrop of the ongoing Windrush scandal and the stark health inequalities exposed by COVID-19, this report is especially contemptuous.

Most significantly, such a report is damaging as it has the potential to set us back decades by discrediting and rolling back emerging anti-racism initiatives across UK institutions. The only decently informed recommendation of this report is to abandon the reductive and simplistic ‘BAME’ category. This is a start, but then we must ask why the report deploys this category to evidence income gaps and interrogate the Chair’s statement that ‘ethnic minorities are doing better than white majority’ in many areas by unpacking which ethnic minorities are doing better and how ‘better’ is being defined.

As a Network, we are committed to challenging systemic racism and supporting students and colleagues who experience racism and discrimination; our commitment redoubles in the face of those who deliberately seek to set back the movement for racial justice.