In 2020 Black Lives Matter became a universal cry after another death of a Black person, George Floyd, caused uproar re-opening the Civil Rights’ Movement action 4 decades earlier. At the same time the pandemic, Covid 19, also laid bare gross inequalities, not least Black people, many of whom were prominent on the front line in health and other essential services, key workers in fighting the pandemic and saving the lives of others.
In the UK Belly Mujinga died from the Covid virus after someone spat in her face. She was on duty as a railway worker based at Victoria Station in London in a public space, but without protection from infection in a busy public place. She was vulnerable having an underlying health condition. Covid 19, in addition to the Black Lives Matter movement, laid bare inequalities apparently on the basis of “race” and ethnicity. Research is revealing socio-economic equality is the more likely reason for the huge disparity in deaths among Black communities.
Black Members of Parliament are calling for de-colonising education. The last official government reports on education and Black achievement date back to 1979 and 1985. For one reason or another they were kicked into the long grass. Many individual schools welcomed their recommendations resulting in changes being piecemeal and those in opposition able to ignore or even challenge the reports’ conclusions. Dawn Butler, now a well established MP, has led calls for action. She is not alone. A number of other more recently elected Black members are also making the plea. While there is opposition and denial from the Government benches, the Labour Party too has been dragging its feet in opposing racism, with the exception of its vigorous championing of anti-semitism. There can be no league table of groups facing discrimination. Equality demands fairness across the board and legislation if necessary to ensure that colonialism thinking and practice is comprehensively removed from institutions. While people are free to have their beliefs it is unacceptable for any government to allow discrimination arising from the UK’s colonial history to continue resulting in disproportionate numbers of deaths of Black people to occur. One example above show individuals in the criminal justice system to use extreme violence in the course of duty, the other the failure of an employer with a serious underlying health problem to give protection to their employee. Deaths of Black people in custody and on the front line in the health and other essential services have been common in the UK in recent years. Of those responsible few, if any, have been brought to justice.
The Stuart Hall Foundation has published reports of recent figures showing differences between groups in achievement in education in 2016/7. However the latest official Government reports arising from concern of children’s performance were the Rampton Report, 1979, and Swann Report, 1985. They give the recommendations of each report.
Carlton Duncan, who provided the introduction to this report, was a member on both Rampton and Swann committees. He has shone revelatory light onto reasons why implementation has not occurred between then and now. He is asking the question that now Black Lives Matter and Covid 19 have made it crystal clear that discrimination continues in a way many considered to be in the past this is not born out by the day to day experience of those who experience racism and discrimination. It is the same question as Black MPs now in parliament are asking about their experiences both in Parliament and in their constituencies. This includes having their staff to weed out abusive correspondence before its gets to them. The current Minister for Equalities and Women, Liz Truss, has stated that in her opinion institutional racism is “evidence free”!