Another report, another day that people realise the barriers and hurdles people from BAME backgrounds experience.
The shocking – not so shocking to me – racial disparities report that the government finally had the guts to publish, highlights that the fight for equality is still relevant in 2017 as it was in 1917. Britain is still one of the most socially progressive countries in the world, but we’re falling through the ranks.
Theresa May should be praised for her move to commission this report. But the most damning aspect of the study is how it highlights the impacts Tory austerity has had on social divisions in our society. For example, cuts to ESOL means integration for migrant communities is hard if not impossible, and the last Casey review concluded that good English skills are “fundamental” to improving immigrants’ opportunities.
Cuts to local authority budgets (now a third of what they were in 2010), are putting councils in the grave position of having to choose between providing vital services in social care or investing in workshops and extracurricular activities for our younger generation, many of which have helped teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds get into higher education, apprenticeships and jobs.
Whilst everyone is quick to highlight the importance of this report and how shocking it is, let’s not ignore the bread and butter of this all – finding solutions to these problems. In employment, the government can encourage – and push – the public sector to introduce blind CV’s and application forms, which effectively eliminates the first hurdle in employment, which is discrimination against name or area they live in. Secondly, encouraging businesses and organisations to move towards assessment based recruitment and third party recruitment services. Now of course we shouldn’t be going through all of this just to have more equality in our country, but the reality is, it’s far more difficult to stop perception based biases, than it is to break down barriers.
Another shocking part of this report was the inequality in our education system. Whilst austerity has had an impact, the burning truth is that Black History has never been taught enough in our schools, and the question one must ask is how are future generation expected to appreciate the contributions made by minorities in Britain, if their history is undervalued and often unheard. Government and Local authorities have no control over school governors and boards, however, by ensuring that our school boards and governors reflect the true diversity in our country, we can ensure a curriculum that truly represents and celebrates the true history of our country.
The home truths of this report are that over the last seven years our country has taken a step back in racial equality, yes we’ve elected our first ever Muslim Mayor, yes there are more BAME MPs and councillors, but socially our country has drifted back into the 80s.
Abdi Duale is London Young Labour’s BAME officer