The report noted that children from many minority backgrounds do better in school than white students, and that the pay gap between all ethnic minorities and Britain’s white population has shrunk to 2.3%.
Critics, however, said the commission’s report painted a partial and unrealistically optimistic picture. It was headed by education consultant Tony Sewell, who has long expressed doubts about there being systemic racism in British society.
“This is not a genuine effort to understand racism in Britain,” Kehinde Andrews, a professor of Black studies at Birmingham City University, said. “This is a PR move to pretend the problem doesn’t exist.”
Like other countries, Britain has faced an uncomfortable reckoning with race since the death of George Floyd, a Black American, at the knee of a U.S. policeman in May 2020 sparked anti-racism protests around the world.
Large crowds at Black Lives Matter protests across the U.K. called on the government and institutions to face up to the legacy of the British Empire and the country’s extensive profits from the slave trade.
The toppling of a statue of 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston in the city of Bristol in June prompted a pointed debate about how to deal with Britain’s past. Many felt such statues extol racism and are an affront to Black Britons. Others, including Prime Minister Boris Johnson, argued that removing them was erasing a piece of history.
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