The Sewell Report has invoked a tremendous reaction from those of us who work in race and equality, and rightly so. Over this Easter weekend, there have been numerous activists and campaigners talking about how this report does nothing except gaslight Black & Brown communities and justify the claims of racists that racism doesn’t exist in the way our communities think it does, because the Government says so. As John Amaechi says ‘…a verified tick has been given to legitimate bigots everywhere’.
There were so many worrying aspects of the report, so many! But we will focus on just a few…
This group of black and brown committee members came to the conclusion that we shouldn’t be seeking to ‘decolonise’ the curriculum, substitute white authors or amplify ‘token expressions of Black achievement’, instead we should be looking to learn about a ‘new story’ of ‘how culturally African people transformed themselves into a re-modelled African Britain’. To minimise Black & Brown contribution, insist we keep learning about world history from only White authors and to try and reaffirm that Empire was this great gift bestowed to the Commonwealth by our very generous British (and other European) benefactors is nothing short of revolting. Completely disregarding amongst other things, how Empire & Commonwealth has shaped our racialised immigration legislation since 1905 and had a detrimental, in some cases, fatal effect on many lives.
Renowned campaigner, Patrick Vernon, had much to say about how the report disrespects all the BAME lives lost during this pandemic as well as everyone affected by the Windrush Scandal, and that this report is from another parallel universe. He said the ‘…report’s efforts to belittle enslavement & resulting injustices to millions of people is equivalent of a holocaust denier being asked to develop a strategy on anti-semitism. Half the people on the commission do not understand the history of Britain, and impact of Anti-Blackness’.
In the Report, something called ‘Immigrant Optimism’ is mentioned. Which highlights to the reader that new African communities are achieving much higher grades than their Caribbean peers and says that ‘it is difficult to blame racism in education for the latter’s underachievement’. Saying nothing of how in both communities and other migrant communities, parents regularly guide their children with words along the lines of, ‘you will have to work twice as hard to just get half’. It also says nothing of the Highly Skilled Migrants & International Students that have come here with that ‘immigrant optimism’ and are still mistreated by the Government and it’s Hostile Environment policies.
We wish the travesty ended there, but sadly it does not. Apparently, not only must WE (read Black & Brown & other migrant communities) accept that ‘institutionalised racism’ doesn’t exist but also:
- WE should review our ‘reluctance’ to accept that the UK has ‘become open and fairer’.
- WE also should explore how the disparity gaps can be closed by US helping ourselves instead of waiting for an ‘invisible external’ force to assemble and do the job!
- WE should also stop absorbing ‘a fatalistic narrative that says the deck is permanently stacked against’ US.
- WE should also ‘overcome the legacy of mistrust’ against the Police because they, are in fact, ‘welcoming’!
Whilst we at MRN are truly saddened by this report, we are not surprised. We would also like to remind you that this, like so many other things from our Government, seek to distract us from the work. We will not be distracted (not too much anyway) and we ask you to continue with us.
We have joined Runnymede Trust to ask the Prime Minister to scrap The Sewell Report, please sign the letter here.