……the USA perfected it
Some strong points of view:
The idea that modern Britain is not as bad as the USA when it comes to racial injustice is just a fallacy:
We as British people must look directly into ourselves, we have been conditioned to passive racism through education and indoctrination, not just in school but in the media and the pervading ideology of the ruling classes. It’s more difficult as you get older to challenge and control these stereotypes, but it is now more important now than ever before, to try. It really is no longer acceptable to put comments down to ‘Jovial Banter’, even if you believe you are not a racist, which is probably true of many people in their day to day lives – however the indoctrination of messages and education system and the indoctrination of misinformation from older generations of our families, remains in the recesses of your mind, we all have to challenge it.
Ex British Army officer Samual Etienne for Al Jazerra said:
“In the United Kingdom, we tend to look at the United States with smug contempt over the police brutality and overt racial injustice on display there. Yet, in the UK Black people account for 3 percent of the population, but 8 percent of deaths in custody. Moreover, since 1990, just one police officer has been convicted for their role in the death of someone in their care”.Britain developed structural racism, the US perfected it by Samual Etienne Al Jazeera 17th July 2020
This, despite almost 2,000 people dying in police custody, or otherwise following contact with the police, in England and Wales during the same period.
For all of the diversity initiatives, government reports there have been limited actionable outcomes, inspite of the box-ticking exercises that have followed them. Racial discrimination continues to permeate throughout British society.
Research shows ethnic minorities in Britain are facing rising and increasingly overt racism, with levels of discrimination and abuse continuing to grow in the wake of the Brexit referendum.
Racism in the UK is systemic. It is daily. It is tiring. We see it both in the language and methods used for dealing with anybody who is labelled ‘other’. It was evident in the Windrush scandal and the anti-immigrant rhetoric in the Brexit vote. We should note also that the ‘Extraordinary Rendition’ of Black Britains continues to this day under Home Secretary Priti Patel and this institutionally racist right wing government.
It is evident in the education system, employment market, and the healthcare system. It is evident in England’s higher BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) COVID-19 rate.
The UK is in no position to look at the other side of the Atlantic with contempt. As the saying goes, ‘The British invented racism, the Americans perfected it’.
Britons are not in a position today to watch the protest over George Floyd’s killing, and the wider Black Lives Matter movement in the USA and say, “we are beyond all this”.
Those who fail to recognise racism, just because they benefit from it and see it as the norm, cannot negate the experiences of the Black and brown citizens and residents of the UK who have to deal with overt and covert racism on a daily basis.
To eliminate racism, the UK first needs to acknowledge that it exists, that it is systemic, and that it is affecting the lives and livelihoods of millions of Britons on a daily basis.
We as British people must look directly into ourselves, we have been conditioned to passive racism through education and indoctrination, not just in school but in the media and the pervading ideology of the ruling classes. It’s more difficult as you get older to challenge and control these stereotypes, but it is now more important than ever before, to try.
As we said above, it really is no longer acceptable to be passive, ‘I’m not to blame’ we have to challenge racism around every corner at every opportunity.
Today, as said many times before, it is not enough to not be racist. One needs to be actively anti-racist to help defeat systemic racism – both in the USA and the UK.
These two articles below written by Aufa Hirsch of The Guardian and Joseph Losavio of IMF.org in 2020, dissect the issues of Racism and a racist economy very clearly, they are worth a read:
The Racism that killed George Floyd was built in Britain
By Aufa Hirsch – The Guardian 3rd June 2020
This is not just ‘horrible stuff that happens in America’. Black people know we need to dismantle the same system here.
The headlines are now describing the US as a nation in crisis. As the protests against the killing of African American George Floyd by a white police officer enter their second week – curfews in more than 40 cities, the deployment of the National Guard in 15 states – there is a far deeper, more important message. Because the US is not, if we are honest, “in crisis”. That suggests something broken, unable to function as planned. What black people are experiencing the world over is a system that finds their bodies expendable, by design.
African Americans told us this when they lost Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Chinedu Okobi, Michael Brown, Aiyana Jones, Tamir Rice, Jordan Davis, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and so many more.
African Americans told us this after 9/11, when headlines described the US as being in a “state of terror”.
“Living in a state of terror was new to many white people in America,” said the late, great Maya Angelou, “but black people have been living in a state of terror in this country for more than 400 years.”
African Americans told us this during the civil rights movement, the last time the US knew protests on this scale. And if the world paid attention to black people, then it would know that this state of terror extends far beyond the US. The Ghanaian president, Nana Akufo-Addo, captured the trauma of so many Africans around the world when he said that black people everywhere were “shocked and distraught”.
In Australia, protesters relived the death of David Dungay, a 26-year-old Indigenous Australian man who died while being restrained by five guards in 2015. He also cried the haunting phrase, “I can’t breathe.” Meanwhile, just this week, a police commissioner in Sidney said that an officer filmed casually attacking an Indigenous teenager with brutal violence had, “had a bad day.”
In the UK, black people and our allies are taking to the streets as I write to wake British people up out of their fantasy that this crisis of race is a problem that is both uniquely American, and solvable by people returning to the status quo.
The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, said on behalf of Britain: “We want to see de-escalation of all of those tensions.” If he had bothered to listen to black British people, he might have discovered that many of us do not want de-escalation. We want protest, we want change, and we know it is something for which we must fight. Because many of us have been fighting for this all our lives.
The British government could have had the humility to use this moment to acknowledge Britain’s experiences. It could have discussed how Britain helped invent anti-black racism, how today’s US traces its racist heritage to British colonies in America, and how it was Britain that industrialised black enslavement in the Caribbean, initiated systems of apartheid all over the African continent, using the appropriation of black land, resources and labour to fight both world wars and using it again to reconstruct the peace.
What the British government did instead is remarkable. First, it emerged that it may have used George Floyd’s death as an excuse to delay a report into the disparity in ethnic minority deaths from Covid-19. Although the Department of Health officially denies it, there were reports that the Public Health England review was delayed because of concerns in Whitehall about the “close proximity to the current situation in America”.
The government needn’t have worried, because instead of meeting the grief in our communities at so many deaths from Covid-19, its review fails to offer any new insight anyway. It has now emerged that a key section, containing information on the potential role of discrimination, was removed before publication.
The government’s response has been to appoint Kemi Badenoch, the minister for equalities, and a black woman, to get to the bottom of the problem. What do we know about Badenoch’s approach to racism in Britain? On “institutional racism” – a phenomenon that affects minorities in Britain – she has been reported as saying that she doesn’t recognise it. On former mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith’s Islamophobic campaign? She helped run it. On the black community? She doesn’t believe that it really exists.
On American racism?
“We don’t have all the horrible stuff that’s happened in America here,” Badenoch said in 2017.
For those of us who see racism for what it is, as a system that kills – both our bodies, and our humanity – this is traumatic. I listened to the health secretary, Matt Hancock, announce – as if it was his new discovery – that “black lives matter”, and offer someone as seemingly uninterested in anti-racism as Badenoch as a solution.
Meanwhile, that “horrible stuff that’s happened in America”?
Our reaction to George Floyd’s death as Black British people is our expression of generations of lifelong, profound, unravelling pain. Some of us are speaking about this for the first time, in too many cases that I’m personally aware of, attracting reprimands and sanctions at work.
My own personal protest has been silence. Not silence at those protesting, with whom I am in full solidarity, and to whom I offer my support, my labour, my platform, my time and my resources. But a refusal to participate in the broadcast media, which – when racism becomes, for a few short days, a relevant part of the news cycle – call me in their dozens inviting me to painstakingly explain how systems of race are constructed.
This time I’m watching other black people graciously, brilliantly, appear on these platforms to educate hosts and viewers alike. And I know next time they will be asked to come again and repeat the same wisdom.
We do this work all the time. We have taken what we inherited and had no choice but to make sense of it. We have studied, read, written and understood the destructive power of race. And we are telling you that race is a system that Britain built here.
We are also telling you that as long as you send all children out into the world to be actively educated into racism, taught a white supremacist version of history, literature and art, then you are setting up a future generation to perpetuate the same violence on which that system of power depends.
We are telling you that we need to dismantle, not to de-escalate.
Addressing systemic racism is a moral imperative; it can also make economies stronger
By Joseph Losavio International Monetary Fund 10th September 2020
George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. Three Black Americans killed in acts that reminded the world that systemic racism is still very real in the United States. The early summer protests that followed, though sparked by those deaths, were manifestations of deeper anger and despair at the racism that has plagued the country since its founding.
As protests spread worldwide, many began to shift focus from solidarity with Black Americans to racial injustice within their own countries. Adama Traoré. João Pedro Matos Pinto. David Dungay, Jr. Different names from different countries, but still victims whose deaths have forced reexamination of the global presence of systemic racism and sent demonstrators into the streets to demand better.
Demanding an end to racism, and a remedy for its legacy, is not just morally correct but a boost to economic development. Continuing to deny the existence of racism, and refusing to confront it, will lead to a less vibrant, less cohesive, less prosperous world.
Birth of a nation
A multiracial nation since its independence, the United States has struggled to overcome what many refer to as its “original sin”—slavery—and the ‘de jure and de facto’ racial discrimination that followed its abolition. Systemic racism continues to burden the United States, and Black Americans have borne the brunt of its legacy.
Racism in local American police departments is a deep-seated problem. According to analysis by the Washington Post and the Guardian, Black Americans are twice as likely as whites to be killed by police while unarmed. Although this is one of the most widely known forms of systemic racism, the problem runs much deeper.
For example, racism is rampant in medicine—in 2016, the US National Academy of Sciences found that 29 percent of white first-year American medical students thought that Black people’s blood coagulates more quickly than white people’s, and 21 percent believed that Black people have stronger immune systems. Such misunderstanding often leads to inadequate preventive care and inferior treatment, resulting in worse health outcomes for Blacks than whites across the board. One study published by the American Heart Association found that racist medical notions contributed to Black women in America being a third more likely to die of heart disease than white women.
Racism has restrained Black economic progress for decades. The benefits of the post–World War II GI Bill, which fueled the growth of the American middle class, were largely denied to Black people at the insistence of white members of Congress from the South desperate to enforce racial segregation—war heroes or not. “Redlining,” a Federal Housing Administration policy that refused to insure mortgages in Black neighborhoods, shut Black Americans out of one of the most common avenues for accumulating wealth, home ownership. These factors have all played a role in a persistent Black-white wealth gap. According to a 2019 McKinsey report, median Black families have 10 times less wealth than median white families.
Liberté, égalité, fraternité—pour qui?
Many other countries, such as France, experience similarly entrenched racism, even though that country’s national mythology purports it to be a steadfastly color-blind society. The government refuses to compile statistics on faith, ethnicity, or skin color in its census. This universalist outlook masks modern-day racism resulting from historical atrocities. As is true of many countries in Europe, France’s role in perpetuating colonial race-based slavery in the Americas is often misunderstood, leading to a belief that racism is a new-world, not an old-world, problem.
As Maboula Soumahoro, a specialist in African diaspora studies at the University of Tours, told France 24, “Because slavery was illegal on the mainland, people in France have the impression that this hyper-racialized history that is characteristic of the modern world only concerns the Americas,” adding that “France is not blind to racism. France thinks it’s blind to racism.” This refusal to see race, and the official policy that derives from it, leaves the country unprepared to address systemic racism.
Policing in France may be less lethal than in the United States, but violence and discrimination are targeted far more toward racial minorities than toward French people who are white. Young men perceived as Black or Arab are 20 times more likely to face identity checks. Twenty percent of young Black or Arab French people reported being the victim of brutality in their most recent police interaction—well above the 8 percent of their white counterparts.
As in the United States, however, this systemic racism extends far beyond treatment by police. In a country where religion is often strongly correlated with race, men perceived to be Muslim by employers are up to four times less likely to get a job interview than candidates seen as Christian, according to the think tank Institut Montaigne (Valfort 2015). A 2018 study by the University of Paris-Est Créteil found that job applicants with Arab-sounding names got 25 percent fewer responses than those with French-sounding names.
Brazil’s views on racism are also deeply rooted in its national self-image. For many, the country is viewed as a “racial democracy”—which stems from the belief that Brazil transitioned directly from the 1888 abolition of slavery (the last country in the Western Hemisphere to do so) to participatory, multiracial democracy, avoiding the discrimination enshrined in law in countries like the United States and South Africa. In the minds of many Brazilians, racism and discrimination don’t exist in Brazil—after all, Brazil never passed laws like Jim Crow segregation or apartheid, so how could it be truly racist?
Yet in a country where people of partial or full African descent are in the majority, Blacks in Brazil lag far behind whites in major quality of life indicators. Black Brazilians fare far worse in educational attainment. For example, in 2012 fewer than 13 percent of Afro-Brazilians over the age of 16 had received postsecondary education, 15 points lower than whites (Pereira 2016).
Some would ascribe this to class differences, not race; however, one study found that among sets of Brazilian twins in the same household where one was labeled white and the other nonwhite, the nonwhite twin was at a distinct disadvantage in educational attainment, particularly if the twin was male (Marteleto and Dondero 2016).
Black Brazilians also bear the brunt of violence at the hands of law enforcement. In 2018, the police killed 6,220 people in Brazil, and despite representing about half of the national population, 75 percent of those killed were Black (Sakamoto 2019).
These systemic factors have widespread socioeconomic consequences. A study by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics found in 2019 that the average income for white workers was 74 percent higher than for Black and brown workers—a gap that has remained stable for years. Even with the same level of education, Afro-Brazilian men made only 70 percent of comparable white men’s income, and Afro-Brazilian women only 41 percent.
Systemic racism is a global problem. It is real, and there is a robust moral argument for addressing it. However, one factor that is often ignored in this critical conversation is the broader economic dimension. Because it prevents people from making the most of their economic potential, systemic racism carries significant economic costs. A less racist society can be an economically stronger one.
For instance, the wealth gap between American whites and Blacks is projected to cost the US economy between $1 trillion and $1.5 trillion in lost consumption and investment between 2019 and 2028. This translates to a projected GDP penalty of 4 to 6 percent in 2028 (Noel and others 2019).
Or think of France, where GDP could jump 1.5 percent over the next 20 years—an economic bonus of $3.6 billion—by reducing racial gaps in access to employment, work hours, and education (Bon-Maury and others 2016). Witness also Brazil, which is losing out on vast sums of potential consumption and investment because of its marginalized communities.
A worldwide scourge
Of course, these three countries are not the only ones to experience racism, its deleterious social and economic effects, and the need for broader acknowledgment of its existence.
For instance, in a poll of Australians taken in the wake of the George Floyd protests, 78 percent of respondents said that US authorities have been unwilling to address racism. Only 30 percent believed there was institutional racism in Australian police forces. This view conflicts with both the lived experience of indigenous Australians in particular and with the A$44.9 billion the Alfred Deakin Institute believes racism cost Australia between 2001 and 2011.
Meanwhile, various racist incidents in China against African immigrants jeopardize the lucrative Sino-African trade and investment relationship. According to Yaqiu Wang, a researcher at Human Rights Watch, this is another case of discrimination denial, “where Chinese authorities claim ‘zero tolerance’ for discrimination, but what they are doing to Africans in Guangzhou is a textbook case of just that.”
Countries should not try to address racism simply because it will help their economic development. It is a debt owed to their own citizens. However, the world should understand that commitment to respecting human rights and racial equity shouldn’t be a passive statement of values. It should be a call to action, backed by active measures to acknowledge, understand, measure, and eradicate systemic racism. The world is at an inflection point, and it is up to our policymakers to meet the moment. If not, racism will continue to cost us all.