EVENT TRANSCRIPT: BLM: A Voice for Black Britons?
DATE: 6:30pm, 25 February 2021
SPEAKERS: Dr Rakib Ehsan, Dr Remi Adekoya, Calvin Robinson, Esther Krakue
EVENT MODERATOR: Dr Rakib Ehsan
Esther Krakue 00:01
Okay, perfect. It looks like everyone is here. Hi guys. Welcome to the Henry Jackson society virtual event series on BLM a voice for black Britons. Thank you so much for joining us tonight. Tonight we have Dr. Remi Adekoya, Calvin Robinson and Dr. Rakib Ehsan, who is actually the author of this report, we’re going to ask them a few questions about, you know, the findings of this report and whether BLM overall has been a force for good in British society, modern society. And I just want to remind everyone to remember to ask your questions down below. And if you have a question that you would like to raise your hand and say live, just click on the little icon with the hand and I will hopefully pick you when we have time at the end. So you can ask your question to the presenters. Right now introducing one of our first speakers, Dr. Rakib Ehsan, who’s actually the author of this report. Rakib.
Dr Rakib Ehsan 00:53
Well, thank you, Esther. And I’d like to also thank Dr. Remy Adekoya. And Calvin Robinson for accepting my invitation for joining me on the panel to discuss my new report, which the core of the report you could say was exploring public attitudes on UK race relations and attitudes towards the Black Lives Matter movement, but also also touched upon issues of identity reported discrimination, people’s relationship with various public institutions. So it was a wide ranging report, there was plenty of data for people to talk into. And I’d be very interested to hear Dr. Remy and Calvin’s opinions on the report later on. I think the big thing with the report was that in some cases, the general population and the black British population, they look at British society and public institutions in very different ways. I think there’s no getting away from that. Just to give you an example, when we’re looking at people’s perceptions of the condition of race relations in the UK, around one in four in the general population fill the fills that race relations in the UK is currently in bad shape that increases to 40% for black British people. So you can see there’s a noticeable difference there. And when the respondents the report, which the Henry Jackson society worked with ICM on limited who carried out the polling, when respondents were asked, Do you agree that the UK is a fundamentally racist society, the general population, the figures around three and 10 29%, to be exact, this actually rose to fold up to 58%, around six in 10, for the black British population. So and there’s also very clear differences in terms of perceptions of whether or not the UK has a problem with police brutality, very clear, general population versus black British differences there. So I think there’s definitely a debate to be had, in terms of people’s relationships with institutions, particularly black British communities. So for so when it comes to relationship with the UK Parliament, 45% of black British people feel that their racial group is unfairly treated by the UK Parliament. That figure actually is nearly one in two when it comes to being asked about how the education system functions. And I think one of the worrying findings from the report or from a personal perspective, was that when it comes to institutions, how they manage the covid 19 pandemic, three in 10, black British people felt that the NHS had treated their racial group unfairly through its management of the covid 19 pandemic. And that is that is naturally very relevant. When we look at levels of vaccine hesitancy in different ethnic groups, we see that black British communities have notably higher levels of vaccine hesitancy, even when compared with groups of Indian, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi origin. And I think that was one of the motivating factors in terms of we doing this polling, because all too often we see a great deal of vein polling, ethnic minority polling, when you actually look at the ethnic composition of those samples, a black British people are a minority within their ethnic minority population, a lot of those samples you’ll actually see majority Asian origin. So this would include people of Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and also Chinese origin. So I think that was one of the real motivating factors in terms of actually carrying out and writing this report. So you can see there that there is certainly a debate to be had in terms of people’s relationship and how they interact with institutions, how they perceive wider society, but when we’re looking at how you say, the more radical objectives and behaviours associated with the BLM movement, that particularly the UK BLM political organisation, you see that some of these goal goals are not particularly inclusive or no world support or well supported. So when it comes to you know, we’ve had a great deal about defunding police forces. When you actually ask people would you support a reduction in An investment for your local police force of fewer than one in five black British people support that. That drops even lower to 11% for the general population, when we’ve already had things such as dismantling market capitalism, but when you ask respondents would you support replacing the UK is market economy with a socialist system. The figure is around one in four for only one in four for both the general population and black British people. So you can see there that the those sorts of those established radical objectives which are today, which are associated with the Black Lives Matter movement are not particularly well supported by the wider general population, also by black British people. And there’s obviously been that huge discussion about public vandalism, tearing down statues, and the only 16%. So around one in six black British people consider tearing down that toppling statues and acts as an acceptable form of political protest, that drops even lower to 8% for the general population. And I think that’s an important, that’s an important finding. Because when you when you go beyond the inner city areas of London, Birmingham, Leeds, Bristol, there’s actually not that many white British people are suspect would actually have genuinely close relations with a black individual. So much of their perceptions may be shaped by what they come across in the news, what they read in the media. But I think ultimately, what the report is about adding a bit of nuance to the debate, so was very interesting was that six in 10, black British people attached importance to their British national identity, six in 10, black British people also feel that their local police force treats their racial group unfairly. So I think there is that debate to be had, where you can be both patriotic, but also have serious concerns about how your society functions, but especially when it comes to issues of racial fairness, equality of opportunity. And I think that isn’t it is an important point to be made. And I’ll make this final point because ultimately, I’d want to give Dr. Remy and Calvin as much time as possible, because I’m very interested to hear what they thought about the report. But there is also that, I almost say there’s a myth. There’s one of those you quite often hear this phrase black humanity. And I think that is used in politics is used in the media as well, and also by academics. But I think the one thing that the report shows that there’s a great deal of diversity in terms of political opinion perceptions of British society, within the wider black British population. And I think there’s very notable differences to report in particular, between people of people of black African origin, and people of black Caribbean origin, also make the point that there’s a great deal of diversity within the black African origin population, for example, would include established Christian migrants who originate from West Africa. And that could even include more recently arrived, Muslim refugees, who are fleeing civil who fled civil unrest in the Horn of Africa. So you can see there the degree of diversity that can be contained in the broader black African category, but when, when compared with people of black Caribbean origin, people of black African origin are more positive about the state of UK race relations, they are less likely to report having an unstable family life during their childhood, they’re more likely to attach importance to their religious identity. And importantly, they’re more likely to report life satisfaction in the UK. So you can see that there’s quite important and notable differences between those two broader ethnic categories. And I always make a final point because I talk a great deal about the importance of stable family units. I tweets about this a great deal. What was very important that was very interesting was when respondents were asked how stable or unstable was your childhood family life, when it came to the very stable responses 46% in the general population said they had a very stable family life during their childhood, that dropped to 33% for black British people. And when it comes to people reporting that they had an unstable childhood family life, the figure in the general population is 14%, that rises to 21% over one in five for black British people. And I do feel that when it comes to discussions about inequality, social progress, I think that that there should be a wider acknowledgement that a stable family unit is the finest form of social security and it provides those vital vital foundations for personal development and long term life satisfaction. And I do feel that people who are quite sympathetic towards the BLM movement, they don’t really want to acknowledge or rather than or even willing to discuss the negative effects of family breakdown, particularly within black British communities. And I think a lot of these topics hopefully we’ll we’ll touch upon them and dig in deeper detail as this event goes on.
Esther Krakue 09:54
Thank you so much for that introduction, Rakib. That was very enlightening. Obviously, this is your report. So I’m sure the findings in and of itself was a huge learning experience for you as well. Now we’re moving on to Dr. Remi Adekoya. I would love to know your views on the findings of this report and how you think sort of what has been discovered from these findings can actually be implemented in into British society on a wider scale to, you know, further racial harmony in society.
Dr Remi Adekoya 10:21
Okay, thank you very much. First of all, Rakib, I think it’s a great report, you clearly did a lot of work with this. So congratulations on that. gripping reading, I’d say I found some things optimistic in the report on some things clearly, signalling, there’s, you know, work to be done. So one of the most optimistic things I found was what you’ve already mentioned, the fact that 62% of black Britons say British National Identity is important to them, compared to 64% of white Britain. So there’s essentially no difference there. Now, this is something I think we can’t overemphasise that it’s really important. We drive home this point. There’s always been, you know, this sort of narrative driven, you know, essentially, by the far right in the 70s. And in the 80s, that, you know, the people coming here from the former Commonwealth, Commonwealth country, from the former colonial countries, are they really going to identify British? Are they really going to care about this society, or not really, I think this really shows that British National Identity is important to ethnic minorities living here, and this is something we should really emphasise. Another thing I found really important and optimistic there is that when it comes to sort of viewpoints of white Britons as six in 10, black Britain say they have a favourite favourable viewpoint of white Britons in general, three in 10, are neutral and only one in 10. Black Britons have a generally unfavourable view of white Britons. So, there is no widespread antipathy towards white people here amongst the black population. And this is also something we should emphasise, because, you know, in these heated discussions and heated debates on social media and elsewhere, one might get that kind of impression that there’s a lot of antipathy towards white people, specifically, among the black British population, that is not the case. So those are optimistic things. On the things which clearly a signal there’s you know, things also to be worried about are things to work on 58% of black Britain say Britain is a fundamentally racist country, for intensity of experience discrimination, you pointed out a black Britain feel treated unfairly by the parliament, by the education system and by the police. So clearly, these feelings exist out there. As you see, there’s no there’s no dancing around this. There’s clearly a strong wellspring of feelings in this direction. What I think we need to do is find out some more specifics on okay, how exactly does this unfair treatment manifest itself? Practically? You know, how exactly and these are the kinds of things we need to find out from people to be able to address the problem there.
Esther Krakue 12:46
And I get just jump into Dr. Remi a really interesting point. I mean, if you were supposed to delve in deeper if we’re supposed to sort of commission a little bit more extra money to kind of delve into more of the findings of this report and get more specifics, how exactly what parameters would you use to find out the specific reasons behind why six in 10, black, black British people feel like they’ve experienced discrimination, how its manifested? So what parameters would you use? Would you be like, would you still feel more followed in a shop? is a more to do with feelings? Is it more to do with objective? Because that’s, that’s something that we do struggle with, right? Feelings are not necessarily objective reality, I’m sure if you ask the same thing to a lot of black Americans about their experiences of racism, you know, huge swathes of them say, Yes, I personally experienced racism, but then when you look at sort of when you try and look at objective figures, like, okay, these are objective markers of actual discrimination, you know, it might not necessarily match up because obviously, times have changed, you don’t have overtly racist policies that point to skin colour or something like that. So, you know, that is the difficulty. So how would you address that?
Dr Remi Adekoya 13:48
It’s a difficult one. And I think we have to start with open questions, essentially. So you know, how exactly does this unfair treatment that you talk about manifests itself and let people talk, you know, let people talk would have to obviously start probably with smaller group focus groups, talk to people try and find out what are the common themes that seem to pop up here. And of course, we can mention the fact that you know, these, these are subjective interpretations. But at the end of the day, all public opinion is based on popular perceptions and subjective interpretations. And so we have to go with that. And you know, that it’s a social reality out there. 58% of people feel that way. That’s a social reality, and that’s something we need to deal with. So that’s me. That’s what I’d say on that. What I think it’s not a coincidence that 58% also of black Britain’s say, do you think the impact of BLM on race relations in the UK has been positive? And in what surprised me actually, a clear majority of black British conservatives and black British leave voters also think that BLM has had a positive impact on British American relations, even though a majority of black Britons disagree with some of the methods of BLM. So I think that’s sort of top top limb stuff. And things like that people are against that in the black British community. So I think the average black Britain takes, you know, this sort of stance. Yes. I don’t really agree with some of the methods used by BLM. I don’t agree with some of the more aggressive rhetoric. But all in all, I do think they’re raising important questions. And I do, I am more or less happy that they’re there. That is a group that that is really forcing this issue into the public sphere. This clearly is the consensus, which has emerged from Rakib, from Rakib’s studies. So that’s also something which is interesting, and something I think we should take into account. Because like I said, I expected that among black, black British conservatives, there’d be less sort of approval of BLM. But there wasn’t a clear majority, clearly approval of what they’re doing and think they’re having a positive impact on Krishna.
Esther Krakue 15:52
That’s a very interesting point. Because I think, you know, one thing that because obviously, BLM was originally an American movement in response to a lot of police brutality that a lot of African Americans thought and believed that locally they were facing. I think my question is, what do you think was sort of missing in the discussion discussion around race relations before BLM? Because BLM actually came onto our radar in 2016, when a lot about the people that were protesting for Heathrow, blocked one of the routes to Heathrow during the busy summer period, and what do you think was missing from the conversation regarding race relations in the UK before BLM? And how do you think BLM happened to address that that actually improved it sort of in current 2021 society?
Dr Remi Adekoya 16:33
So I think the way the way people see it from my reading, is, first of all, they really brought this issue to the fore very assertively, okay, in a way that had not really been done before. So of course, you know, people, you know, right, right, for The Guardian, the independent etc, have been talking about this for years, but not that assertively. So they did that very assertively. That’s one, especially on social media, too, you know, the protests, those are visuals, visuals always make an impact on people, and they tend to impress people, when people say, are looked as people on the streets, going out protesting, they’re in my name, you know, that means something to people, and they tend to connect with that more and feel that has more of an impact, because you know, everybody’s covering this, you know, Sky News is covering all the all the TV stations are covering it. So there’s something going on here. It’s not just somebody has written an article in The Guardian, or the independent, or maybe 2000, 3000 people have read it, this is on TV, you know, the whole country is watching these protests. So I think many black Britons watching that, you know, have that feeling that Oh, yeah, you know, finally, somebody is really pushing this issue strongly. So that’s where I think and I vlm, sort of one in one of it in those terms, even though you know, that’s, that’s not the point. So that assertiveness and and you know, this is something which goes back to you know, the days and go back to of Malcolm X etc, there is a certain definite pride, you could call it, or, you know, in those black leaders who come out and very assertively sort of state that, look, there’s racism here, and we’re going to talk about it and nobody’s going to shut us up. So that’s something I think they connected with very strongly. Another interesting thing, which I found in the report is waterkeeper, already alluded to the differences within the black community. So that, you know, people of African descent, tend to have a more benign attitude towards Britain, and generally are less likely to think Britain a racist country, and also are twice as twice, I think twice as many black Britons of African heritage, are likely to be satisfied with their life in Britain. So it’s 45 to 23. In that case, whereas a much lower percentage of black Britons of Caribbean heritage, I like you to express life satisfaction, you know, and I think this particular case, and this is very interesting, something which rocky Brook has to do with, you know, our expectations of reality. So I think you know, that there’s three kinds of artsy people from the Africa, black Britons of African descent here. So there’s people who were born here and have never been to Africa. There’s people who were born here and have visited Africa at least once or perhaps several times. And then there’s people like me who were actually born in an African country, and then came here later. And when you have that kind of experience, you have a frame of reference, you have something to compare to. And any of us, you know, here who were brought up in an African country, we know life can be very difficult when people go visit, so if someone was born here, and then go visit an African state, and African country of where their father or mother is from DC Oh, wow. So you know, it’s not the case that everybody has access to NHS level health care without actually having to pay for it all over the world. That’s not the way it works. Okay. In many cases, people don’t have access to that kind of health care in huge poverty completed this huge corruption in many African cities. So people see the reality of life there. And they’re like, wow, you know, Britain is not that bad, actually, you know, and they come back and when I was researching for my book, me, biracial Britain, I spoke to biracial Britons, often of African heritage who have visited there, and you know, and they describe these kinds of events to me that you You know, I actually came back from the African country with my father and mother was from having a more positive view of Britain. Because I saw, actually Britain is not that bad when you compare to life elsewhere. I’m not trying to say, you know, we should just sort of lower standards and all that it’s not that it’s simply about like, I see, we interpret our realities based on our expectation of reality.
Esther Krakue 20:23
I think that’s a very interesting point that you bring up, you know, to what extent is the fact that I suppose, you know, not growing up in a certain country not growing up with I suppose, certain realities, or certain kind of expectations of how you’ll be treated? How does that impact how we, how we feel about the country, how we should feel about the country? Because that’s something I’ve been very vocal about, you know, the whole, even though I did grow up in a car, you know, I didn’t, I didn’t grow up necessarily, I suppose away from sort of racial issues. I mean, there were loads of Lebanese and Turkish and Chinese people. So I knew that there was a different world out there. But I suppose my reality was never thought of a black British person that’s growing up in the UK. So I think that’s something we’ll touch on later about how sort of the fact that, you know, expectations should be levelled with actual realities? And to what extent should we say, actually, because you didn’t expect anything better? To what extent doesn’t make it okay? Or, to what extent is people do people that have actually grown up here need a reality check as to why where it’s like in other countries, and what they really should expect, in terms of general treatment. I want to move on to Calvin to come and your views on the findings of the report, because I just want to see, you know, where you stand on a lot of the statistics, whether you’re surprised by any of them, or whether you just think that this is a great sign for progress.
Calvin Robinson 21:36
Thank you. So first of all, congratulations, Dr Rakib on an amazingly successful launch I’ve seen you in Uneard the times, the Daily Mail, the Spectator, Talk Radio, and Guido Fawkes. So it’s been really good. A lot of interesting stats in here, the first two that stood out really, for me was that 50% of black Brits and activists have too much influence in the police, alongside nearly half of black Brits think that the BBC is run by a political activist as well. So I think as someone obviously campaigning against a wall for defunding the BBC, but also against political activism in our public institutions, I think that really stood out in the black Brits really recognise that the influence that these extremists have on our public bodies and how it’s inappropriate. But looking at a few of these 29% of Brits believe in systemic racism. So to me, that looks like a very low number, because I don’t believe that this country is institutionally racist. But then I see that it almost doubles amongst black Brits. So that’s the first sign that there was really some kind of disconnect going on there between the British public as a whole in general, and black Brits in particular. And again, as we’ve heard from the other two speakers, previously, the black Brits is kind of disingenuous a little bit because it there are so many different communities within that, that it needs to break down even further. But if we look at some of the racism that these people have said that they experience some of the reported racial discrimination. And again, we don’t know what type of discrimination that is, but 8% of black people have reported experiencing racism at the hands of other black people, which really stood out to me in particular, because the majority of the racism that I experience is from other black people. So only 6% is from experienced from Asian people, less than 3% from Chinese or less than 2%, from mixed race people. So it raises concerns there that amongst the BAME communities themselves, there is a lot of inter racial discrimination going on, that never actually gets addressed. I never hear anything about this in the mainstream media, and never hear this being talked about. We tend to perceive racism these days as a power struggle between black people and white people. And of course, that is completely untrue, because racism is discrimination based on ethnicity. So anyone could be racist. And I think these stats back that up in that people have experienced racism from a lot of different ethnic groups. So yeah, there’s a clear disconnect there. But 22% of Brits believe police brutality is an issue in the UK. Again, to me, that’s a really, really low number, and fewer than one in five black Brits support reducing investment in their own police force. So again, we’ve got lots of strong support for the police amongst black people. And not many people believe that police brutality is an issue here, which backs up the claims that I was making all summer last year. And we were importing a lot of this drama from America, the whole Black Lives Matter.
Esther Krakue 24:22
I’ll stop you there Calvin because that’s a point that you raised about police brutality, because there’s always a question of how you define police brutality. Obviously, if you’re talking about police brutality, in the context that we’re seeing now with all the sort of sort of social media buzz around it, you see a police officers in the US with their neck on a guy with their knee on the guy’s neck or police officers, police officers in the US, I don’t know, shooting someone or something that obviously that’s not really a reality here because our police officers aren’t routinely carrying guns. They often carry batons and tasers. And so do you think even the definition of police brutality and how we see and how we experience in the UK might have affected those figures or do you genuinely believe that it’s actually you know, it really just outlines the reality that there is a huge disconnect or shift between what BLM represents or should represent in the UK versus, you know, its American counterpart that was almost transposed onto British society.
Calvin Robinson 25:12
I think the latter, I think that people copy and pasted the drama from America over here. It wasn’t relevant. It just doesn’t suit our environment. Police over here don’t carry guns, they kneel on black people’s necks, and it’s not the same treatment. In fact, you know, obviously, in this country, more white people get arrested than black people. And there are a lot, there are lots of issues that need addressing, particularly amongst the Metropolitan Police. But police brutality, as we see it in America isn’t an issue here. And I’m glad that people seem to recognise that according to the stats, and the violence, all the violence around Black Lives Matter, I saw the early one in six, black Brits leave tearing down statues is a legitimate form of protest. Thank you. It’s not a legitimate form of process. I’m so pleased to see that most people are law abiding citizens and believe in the democratic process rather than just violently tearing down things that you don’t believe in. So work has to be done here clearly, on in lots of areas, if the majority of black people are perceiving racism to be an issue in this country, against the majority of non black people not perceiving it to be an issue, there’s an issue, there are social patients, something is disconnected there along the lines. So while Black Lives Matters methods were completely wrong, abhorrent. And everyone seems to agree with that there is still something that needs to be addressed around race. But violence is not the answer. And nor is Marxism apparently, because only 25% of black Brits support replacing the British capitalist system with a socialist economy, compared to 25 to 23% of the population as a whole. So it’s pretty much in line. To be honest, most people disagree with a socialist economy, and are in favour of keeping our capitalist system. But
Esther Krakue 26:46
Just a quick question, because moving on to the findings of the report that kind of maybe shed light on some problems in British society, they do need addressing. So it’s the number of black Britons, the percentage of black Britons that feel that Britain is a fundamentally racist society or as historically racist society, what do you think should be done about that? And to what extent do you think the influence of sort of those sentiments is coming from social media and you know, being able to exponentially put out information that touches people more often in a more personal way, as opposed to actual realities on the ground. So saying, you’re going to write an exam and you feel like you’re going to get a lower score, because the invigilator is going to see a less ethnically British name, for instance, and just marking down or just you know, incidences where I suppose, clearly racist events can occur. So how do you how do you think that’s happened?
Calvin Robinson 27:35
So I think that’s a good question. I think a lot of this is perceived racism. So we don’t get we don’t get much detail on the the racial discrimination that people have experienced. But I think a lot of it is perceived, I don’t think intent or context is taken into consideration these days, don’t get wrong, there still are elements of racism that it does happen. But a lot of the time, I think people perceive see racism word as actually isn’t taking place. And if we look at the stats, for example, around, you know, education, the NHS, the police force, Council, and parliament, the vast majority of the UK population think that all of these systems are fair. But the perceived fairness amongst black people was really was really low. And they they saw all these all of these systems as unfair. And I’ll get to why I think that is in a moment, but it kind of tallies with other research that we’ve seen. So the Centre for Social Justice, for example, did a good report on family. And then we’ve got stats from ONS, and the DFE, that if we put them all together, along with this fantastic report, we will see that actually, this isn’t a black versus white issue. What this is, is whiteness broken down even further. So if we look at black Africans, for example, that are extending all the way through school, twice as likely to go to university than than white Brits, that black caribbeans are at the bottom of that league table only just above white Brits who are at the bottom, and black Africans being at the top. So again, it’s not about race here. It’s not that the system is racism, racist, or that the country is racist, it’s perceived racism, particularly among black Caribbean people. So we need to get to the bottom of why that is. And again, if we conflate all of the data from these different reports, I think what we’ll discover is, while the black African community has kept hold of their faith, and kept hold of their family structure, and the importance of both of those things, the black Caribbean community have lost both of them. And that has had a detrimental effect on a black caribbeans to the point that without faith and without the family structure to cling to. And I’m generalising massively here, of course, but there is there is kind of, there is a voice there that needs to be filled. And I think a lot of that gets filled with identity politics and critical race theory. And you know, that’s the set more susceptible to that. Because if you’re in school, and you know, your teacher is telling you, you’re gonna get held back, you’re gonna have a harder time that victimhood mentality can take hold, and then later in life, when you don’t achieve the things that you wanted to achieve, you don’t reach the successes that you wanted to reach, then the excuse can be well, the systemic racism in this country It’s clearly racist. And that’s why I’m not where I want to be. And I don’t think that is the case. But that is what might lend to some of the results we’re seeing here. So I think the idea that proposals in the report are fantastic a family saw, for example, family champion, someone like Courtney Lawes would be amazing, to really emphasise the importance of family. And I think we need someone to emphasise the importance of faith as well, because without those two things, people are lost in life. And I think this report really clearly demonstrates that.
Esther Krakue 30:26
Thank you so much. For that, I might, I might ask you a few more questions just around sort of the proportion of black Britons that feel, you know, the level of race racism that they experience in the country? Because, you know, obviously, it is, I think one thing that Ricky mentioned was the fact that it’s a huge gap between, you know, British people in general and the population that feel like there’s a problem with racism and black person. So that’s quite, you know, if you look at it sort of objectively, it kind of looks like there’s a huge disconnect. And so I’ll talk to you a little bit more about that sort of objectively on the figures and why and delve a little bit deeper into that. Because, obviously, like you said, there are sorts of differences between within black communities anyway, it’s not sort of a monolith. But I wanted to go back to you, Dr. Rakib, because I wanted to ask you a bit more about sort of the research techniques behind this this report. So Dr. Remi mentioned, you know, looking at sort of delving a bit deeper into sort of more objective measures of perceived racism, and into finding out why people feel like they are victims of racism, what objective measures can you use and stuff like that, I just wanted to find out a bit more about the techniques that we use in this this report.
Dr Rakib Ehsan 31:30
So in terms of the items or discrimination people ultimately asked over the past 12 months, did they feel they experienced did they feel they experienced discrimination on various grounds. So we also we considered racial discrimination, ethnic discrimination. We also looked at other other possible forms of reported discrimination such as social class, political views, gender, age, disability, I think what was really interesting was that when the general population was asked, people were more likely to report discrimination on the grounds of social class, when compared with ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Now, what’s very interesting is that when we when we have the list of protected characteristics in the UK, ethnicity and sexual orientation is included in that in that list, but social class isn’t. So I think there’s a debate to be had in a society where ultimately, I do feel that class based barriers do exist when it comes to social mobility, how do we how do you almost integrate class back into that conversation when it comes to inequality, because the current list of protected characteristics are not fit for purpose when it comes to designing equality policy? Because the because the exclusion or most of social class from that current list, but Dr. Remi’s point is is important in that we can of course, we should have a discussion about what what does discrimination constitute? What kind of shape does it take, and some people will will question the credibility of such claims of discrimination. But ultimately, these are people that we’re talking about people who have reported this is how I feel this is what I experience on and we need to have, and that will ultimately impact on how they perceive maybe different ethnic and religious groups in society, how they feel their society works, in terms of the socio economic structures, how they interact with the labour market. So I put very clearly there in the report that I still think we have much work to do in terms of introducing more robust anti discrimination rules for the labour market to help our economy move in a decidedly Meritor meritocratic direction. And I think that that there is definitely much work to be done. There’s a number of CV or resume based studies, which showed that you know, when you control for educational qualifications, skills, work experience, all it really takes is just changing the name from a traditional English sounding name to folk perhaps Remi Adekoya, then you might see that there might be very different effects there. Yeah. So I think these are discussions that we do. And I feel that these are this, the reality of it is I think at times we’ve been brushing some of these issues under the carpet, and I don’t think that is positive. If we really if we’re really serious about creating more socially cohesive, democratically satisfied society, we have to engage with these topics head on.
Esther Krakue 34:22
I’d be very interested to find out to find out research about that because I mean, I get often confused for Polish women just by my name, I don’t know why, I like the Polish anyway. But I think it would be very because, you know, the the, the fear would be that people would just assume that just because the name sounds different, they’re going to get rejected for a job but it’s also important to see to what extent does you know you having a not necessarily very ethnically English name affect your job prospects, and then that goes into the territory of black Caribbean people who tend to have very British sounding last names, right, Calvin Robinson, I was thinking he would be so a very white English man, right? Not for any The other reason, but just you know that it’s so it does go into that realm as well. So that’s a very intro even sort of Ghanaian and people that have very English sounding last names, which is kind of like a sort of a relic of colonialism but does happen, right? I have had family members who are very English last names. So I think you know, that kind of that would be very interesting to study.
Dr Rakib Ehsan 35:20
I’ll just raise the point there that there was a huge study by Nuffield college at the University of Oxford, which found that it was black African origin applicants that suffered a particularly harsh penalty when it came to those. So they call it the sort of culturally distant names that that they use. So I think there’s definitely a debate to be had, because ultimately, people want to be treated fairly by their own labour market. I think that’s, you know, if you if you work hard, you know, whether you, you know, you develop your own skills, or you tried to educate yourself to the best of your own ability, you try and show that individual initiative and personal responsibility. you ultimately want to reap the rewards when it comes to interacting with what you would like to think of meritocratic labour market. But the moment I don’t feel that that’s necessarily the case in the UK, and I see that Dr. Remi would like to maybe build on? Yeah,
Dr Remi Adekoya 36:07
I just wanted to say, I think Rakib present an important issue. And I think one of the problems here is because the debate has become so polarised and and that definitely intensified in the last year after the event of the George Floyd killing and the BLM protests, etc. So, you know, we run the risk of getting trapped into, you know, in between two extremes of one, Brits all Brits are basically racist, all white Brits are basically racist. And, you know, another another extreme of our No, there’s actually no real problem going on here. You know, and the truth is, in this case, somewhere in the middle there, okay. And this, this middle ground is what I think we have to develop and say, Okay, look, this is a problem. This is a problem. There’s a problem in this institution, we need to tackle it this way. That way, no, here, there actually isn’t a problem, you know, and look at things really on a case by case basis, rather than, you know, develop the sweeping narratives of Oh, there’s problems everywhere, or there’s no problem anyway. You know,
Esther Krakue 37:01
I mean, to be honest, I wanted to ask your opinion, Dr. Remi, because, for me, what I’ve noticed is there’s become a very much black versus white conversation. And I think I’ve noticed that particularly in the US, which I find very surprising, actually, because America is very much a melting pot. I mean, Latinos, and Hispanics and Asians have been completely left out of the conversation, or the honorary blacks, right in the US when you’re talking about sort of your social anthropology. But I think in the UK, in particular, there is no really sort of cross cultural conversation in the sense that actually, for instance, I feel like Eastern Europeans have been wiped out of the conversation. And Dr. Rakib mentioned, you know, the the findings of the study that social clauses and something that’s really addressed, right, what happens to a poor, white polish man that’s living on a council estate? And how does he compare to sort of a black, African, black British African person living on a council estate? You know, does he get does he get better treatment? Or is he sort of higher up on the pedestal of social oppression? Because he’s just white? Or because you know, he’s Eastern European, and he has an accent. And once he opens his mouth, you know that he’s not necessarily necessarily a native to the British Isles. So I just wanted to understand, get your opinion on how you think the conversation looks like right now, it doesn’t look like a white versus black sort of conversation? Or is it really covered across the board? And are we really talking about the full fabric of British society, not just white ethnic groups versus black Brits?
Dr Remi Adekoya 38:24
So I think, you know, there’s a difference between the discussion we see on social media and the kinds of discussion we see in the quote unquote, real world. And I think in the real world, you know, institutions, in schools, in government, administration, in other places, there are real tangible conversations going on, and real tangible efforts need to address the situation, what we see on social media, obviously construct with other black versus white walk, basically, which is why I said I was very happy to find that so many and virtually the same number of black Brits or whitebridge. Think national identity is important to them. And that nine out of 10 black Britons don’t feel a sense of antipathy or don’t have unfavourable unfavourable opinion. So worldwide, Britain, this is very important. So it’s not a personnel issue here. You know, it’s, it’s these are institutional issues that need to be tackled. And one by one, if we have to, if you talk about that issue of the Eastern Europeans, yes, it’s true. We live in difficult times, one of the ills of our time of course, is, you know, there’s this concept of competitive victimhood, in the sense of, okay, who deserves our sympathy, you know, and obviously, there are various groups out there who are saying, you know, we deserve the most sympathy, you know, we deserve the most empathy, and, you know, and then people sort of Mmm, and shoes and say, oh, okay, no, actually, we think black people deserve the most empathy. Or someone else will say, Oh, actually, perhaps it should be Muslims. And someone else says, Oh, no, perhaps it should be British, Bangladeshi, you know, and there’s all sorts of and there’s all sorts of things come up. And you know, how do we get out of this? I think a lot of it’s perfect for it to be the simple attitude or the issue of attitude. We have to simply adopt the attitude as you see identify disadvantaged groups in society. I’m very much towards emphasising socio economic disadvantage and trying to look at who is socially economically disadvantaged here, and then trying to reach out and assist. Those people help them up irrespective of whether they’re, you know, black skin colour, brown skin colour, white skin colour, you know, if we start from that. And we will find, of course, that a disproportionate number of black and brown people will be in that socio economically disadvantaged group because their care wealth disparities in Britain, Theresa May and 2017. audit showed that the median white household is worth 282,000 pounds, the median Caribbean household is worth 89,000 pounds, the median black African rich and black African household is worth 24,000 pounds. And I think the median British Bangladeshi household is worth 22,000 pounds. So there’s clear wealth disparity here. And this issues need to be discussed. But if we if we start from that, if we start from going up the socio economic level, then you know, these are numbers, it’s actually quantifiable, you can actually point to specific groups, and then say, Okay, what do we need to do, and then it becomes less of a black versus white person brown thing, you know. So I think that’s one of the ways to sort of move forward, because the solutions will, at the end, disproportionately help the black and brown people who do tend to be more socio economic.
Esther Krakue 41:18
I think that argument, I drove to its logical conclusion, as an very vocal on Twitter, but I said, you know, if we take it from a statistics perspective, as opposed to a skin colour perspective, then you won’t be shocked when you see a black CEO of a company, or you will be shocked when you see a more sort of black or brown affluent family. Because what I think happens is, in as much as it does make, it does sort of intensify race relations, which is never good. It also embeds the stereotype that people that are not necessarily white British, that do find success are outliers, or they’re weird, or the, you know, sort of social misfit. And that’s something that I take very personally, because there’s a difference between wanting to help disadvantaged groups in society, and looking down at someone, even if you think of being helpful or being kind, looking down and being patronising to particular groups of people, because you’ve now embedded in your mind that actually just because you’re black in Britain, you are, you are not successful, you are not capable of being a CEO, and I need to help you and be benevolent. And, you know, it sounds it sounds a bit laughable, but it is it is an undercurrent in a lot of the conversations that we have around sort of black Britons in this country. And it does lean towards, you know, it’s patronising, right, because they’ve never seen necessarily a black successful person. They say, Okay, this is because I helped you, I gave you all this opportunity, you should bow down to me. And I don’t know if you know anything about African competitiveness, but it’s very infuriating. There is nothing worse than someone from a different country sending coming over for a life that they think will benefit their family. And then their child being told that they got this because of because of what is it?
Dr Remi Adekoya 42:46
Esther Krakue 42:48
Oh, my God, I think my family will just kill somebody. Oh, that like that is the most offensive thing out there not because not because there’s anything fundamentally wrong with affirmative action, but because you minimise meritocracy, right, you minimise someone’s actual hard work for that. And Calvin, I wanted to touch up on this, before we go to the questions from the audience, just about, you know, you mentioned faith and family. And I think your huge focus was on the fact that that is really where our focus should be on, especially when we’re addressing a lot of social cohesion issues in this country, and all of necessarily like sort of racial community issues in this country. So I wanted to see if you could delve more into that. And to what extent do you think that is where the disparity lies between the number of general British people that think there’s racism, versus the number of black British people that think there’s racism? And to what extent does that the disparity account two, is accounted for by the lack of religion and family values.
Calvin Robinson 43:42
So I think that disparity is mainly between the difference between the black African communities and the black Caribbean communities, in that, we saw that black Africans are more faithful, mostly Christian, and tend to have stronger family units of two parents living with their children. We’re seeing that across not just this report, but multiple reports, whereas in Caribbean families, that is no longer the situation. And I think there is certainly a connection there that needs to be investigated further, but would like to briefly jump on to what you just talked about, because that is what we call the soft bigotry of low expectations. And I think the way around that, instead of positive discrimination, which I don’t think is a thing, I don’t think there is such a thing as positive discrimination. I think that’s an oxymoron, which is why we call it affirmative action. Instead of that, we should raise expectations for everybody. And I think that that way, we avoid the resentment and the embarrassment and all of that, and one solution. We’ve met someone earlier mentioned blind seabees, which is part of the solution. Absolutely. But I think we need to get rid of diversity quotas as well in employment and stop looking at people as numbers and trying to fill quotas based on race or gender or anything, take them away, but also take away those diversity forms. So you’re not filling in what race or gender or anything you are, and then we get back to a point of meritocracy so removing those diversity quotas and the forms along with blinds CVs, I think we’ll get a bit closer to where we want to be.
Esther Krakue 45:03
Okay, thank you very much. Okay, so now we’re gonna move on to q&a session by by the audience. We have a question here from Jacqueline Gross, which says, Why is there so much antisemitism in black communities? are Jews not regarded as a racial minority as well? That’s a very interesting question. I want to take it to you first, Dr. Rakib.
Dr Rakib Ehsan 45:23
Yes. So that this, this was a particularly interesting finding in the report. And it follows up a report that I did on British Muslim anti semitism, which showed that when compared with the general population, British misses more were more likely to believe in anti semitic conspiracy theories. And there’s similar patterns here, in the sense that, firstly, when compared to the general population, black Brits are more likely to believe, more likely to think that Jewish people have disproportionately high level of control over the global banking system, global political leadership, global media and global entertainment. And was especially interesting was that this effect was even stronger in less integrated elements of the black British population, again, a similar dynamic to the British Muslim population. So I think that in a sense, based on some of the things that I’ve heard, and in what I’ve seen written, in the past year or so, there is a segment because of that concept of white privilege. Now, in many cases, Jewish people tend to be white, that there is a sense of, well, because of white privilege, you can’t be truly discriminated against you can’t experience prejudice, which I think is there’s there’s interesting dynamics, interesting dynamics there. I think in terms of how we go about having a robust policy action, in terms of reducing anti semitic anti semitic prejudices in the UK, we have to be honest about where it’s more likely to be relatively concentrated. And I think perhaps we feel all that because it’s particularly this case here where it might be more concentrated in ethnic and religious minorities, there may be a reluctance, perhaps to challenge those forms of anti semitism. So and I think in the sense that that is something that we have to acknowledge as a society, where, you know, firstly, what is the broader level of anti semitism in broader society? But also, where is it more likely to recite in which you know, which particular specific humanities? And how does social integration fit into that because I do think it’s quite interesting that when it comes to more integrated British Muslims, or more integrated black British people, that has a prejudice reduction effect, when it comes to believing in those anti anti semitic tropes, anti semitic conspiracy theories, and that is one of the benefits of social integration, as you brought out of your own ethnic and religious group, you interact with people, you have the opportunity to develop those positive ties outside of your own group. And I think that that can be quite beneficial in terms of how you see why does society Well, perhaps if you remain more, well, you could say, inward looking or more insular, or you have those kinds of social networks, which are predominantly because it consists of people belonging to your own racial and religious group that may perhaps breed suspicion of the unknown, and other groups that you may have very little or no interaction with. So I think there’s this very important debate to be had into when it comes to social integration, and the kind of role it can play in terms of reducing anti semitism in British society.
Esther Krakue 48:30
Thank you very much. Dr. Remi, I have a question here from Jeffrey Oberman. And I think I want to pass this on to Calvin as well when Dr. Remi is done, because I think that’s relevant for you as well. He asked, Is it possible that Afro Caribbean youth are suffering the same feelings of dislocation and marginalisation as British white, white youth as a result of our chronic underfunding of further education skill based training apprenticeships? Would it be fair to suspect that a perceived lack of opportunity can be leveraged by political manipulators? So I want to know what you think of this question Dr. Remi, and then I’ll pass it on to Calvin?
Dr Remi Adekoya 49:04
I think, yes, to answer that question, because he’s asking basically, what he’s asking is, do people who feel marginalised especially economically, will there be a tendency there for them to actually feel a sense that they’re being persecuted? Or that they’re actually purposely being marginalised? And you know, the answer to that would be yes. And I believe calling to go into specifics, because is, on the education, on the education aspects on on the skills aspect, but you know, the answer to that is yes. And also, you know, alluding to what Rakib said, about those kinds of sentiments among some in the black community and towards Jews. It has been noticed in group psychology, that groups that feel less powerful, can tend to think can tend towards conspiratorial thinking. And conspiracy theories can be very popular within such groups because there has to be an explanation for why are we not one of the ones running the world. Why is it other groups Running groups that seem to be that seems to be more successful that seem to be more powerful. And this kind of conspiratorial conspiracies can can thrive in such groups. So that’s, that’s another thing also. So it’s, it’s not just a, it’s not just a black thing. So to see, you know, you can find it in many different societies and cultures, all sorts of conspiracies about groups perceived to be very powerful and successful by groups that don’t feel that powerful.
Esther Krakue 50:23
Okay, um, Calvin, I just wanted to know what your thoughts is, do you think sort of easier to weaponize certain groups that don’t feel they they’re receiving the same opportunities as other groups in society?
Calvin Robinson 50:34
Yeah, absolutely. Because they’re not receiving the same opportunities. When you look at kids that in a city environments in deprived areas, these children are called disadvantaged for a reason, because they’re not receiving the same opportunities as children outside of cities that are getting better education. And if we look into schools, like for example, Michaela Free School, where I used to be a governor and director, they are the outliers, they are the ones that say, look, it doesn’t matter where you come from, what skin colour you have, or anything like that, we will have the same high expectations for every single child, and we will raise our standards and children will raise their standards to meet our expectations. And that is exactly what children need. Whereas in most inner city schools, especially in London, you see, again, the soft bigotry of low expectations, you see, excuses being made for children that are classed as disadvantaged because their lives are harder because of the colour of their skin or because of where they live, or because of how much money their parents and they are all untrue. You know, children are not disadvantaged because of those things. Children are disadvantaged because we do not give them the same expectations that we give our children. And that’s all they need. They thrive in an environment where we expect them to learn to work hard and to achieve. And if we do that, then they do they meet us there. So yes, I think your your question was spot on.
Esther Krakue 51:47
Okay. And I have a follow up question for you, Calvin. And this is from David Conway. And he says, Do you want the life chances of blacks in the UK be improved by decolonizing the curriculum in schools and universities?
No, the curriculum isn’t colonised in the first place to be decolonize. First of all, Great Britain was never a colony. So how is the curriculum colonised? But secondly, no, we don’t need to because what they mean by decolonize, the curriculum is actually a remove white people. And if we look at history, in particular, because that’s the one they go after, most of the time, there is a reason most people on the curriculum are most of the significant figures on the curriculum are white. That’s because this is a predominantly white country, and has been for most of its history. Therefore, it makes sense. That doesn’t mean going forward, it’s going to be the same case, you know, we’ve got a lot more diversity in the country now. Therefore, in future textbooks, we might see more influential figures of ethnic minority status. But we absolutely should not remove people from the curriculum just because of the colour of their skin, because that is discrimination. And that’s what people campaigned for, to remove white people to get rid of Mozart, and replace him with Stormzy is a prime example. I think it was Birmingham City University, which doesn’t surprise me considering the people that work there. But they were campaigning to remove Mozart, who is an influential figure that shapes the way we think about music shaped the way we compose music, and influenced so many people after him. Whereas Stormzy is a popular figure of the moment, and has a song called Shut up, shut up, rude boy Shut up, nowhere near the same level. But it’s all about replacing a white guy with a black guy. And that is not progress. That is racial discrimination. And on that argument, we also have people say, but we want people to represent us, we want to look in the textbooks and see people that look like us. Now, first of all, no, that’s not how it works. Regardless of what kind of book you’re reading, you don’t have to look for someone that looks like you that’s superficial diversity, that helps no one, we look at great ideas where we obtain knowledge from books. And even if it’s a fantasy book, for example, you lose yourself in the hero, it doesn’t have to look like you will be like you in any way, shape or form. But also on the other end of the argument. If you don’t see people that look like you in a book, and you want to see people that look like you then be that person be that role model for the next generation.
Esther Krakue 54:01
Okay, I have a last question that I think would be relevant for all our panellists here. And I’m going to take it to you first. Actually, Remi and then we’ll finish with Dr. Rakib, because this is his report. And I think would be nice. Do you think this is something that you know, I think I’ve been very vocal about but this is a question from Peter Balfour. Do you think the use of political labels such as BAME can actually produce discontent in people and I wanted to start with you Dr. Remi. Let’s start with within the being community in and of itself and then within the wider I mean, how useful Do you think it is for white British person to use the word BAME? Do you think that really sort of illustrate something useful for them to understand?
I don’t think I Rakib, or Calvin or any other person with black or brown skin colour here in Britain has ever thought of themselves as Oh, I am a BAME person that you know, that doesn’t exist that term only exists in you know, in It’s used in, you know, by the administration, so to say, it’s an administration and nobody thinks of them. So there’s no such identity like that definitely 100% whether people are offended at it, I don’t think there’s a lot of people who are offended at it, who really think about it on an everyday basis, if we’re talking about people, you know, ethnic minority share in Britain, but I don’t think it’s particularly useful. I don’t think it’s particularly useful. It’s not really helpful. As we see from RAkib’s report. There are huge differences, even within the black communities here in Britain, you know, much less between the black community and the Bangladeshi community and all the other communities classed as being community. So it’s definitely an outdated concept. And it’s not very useful.
Esther Krakue 55:40
Okay. And Calvin, what do you think?
Calvin Robinson 55:43
I think it makes people feel good using the term BAME. I think they use it because they’re afraid. And people are afraid of talking these days, because it’s a free speech issue. People won’t use the word black. So don’t use the word beam in order to walk on eggshells. But no, I don’t find it useful at all. I don’t find it helpful. I don’t think we are all one homogenous group has we’ve, as we’ve discussed tonight, you know, even between black people, there are so many different groups in so many different communities, just as there are with every race. And it’s not important, because there’s only one race that matters, really, the human race, I had to clarify that just in case anyone got suspicious, but I’m not being I’m Christian. I’m conservative, I’m British. But most importantly, I’m Calvin. If people have to classify me, I’m half white English and half black Caribbean. So I’m belong to two communities if you want to break things down into community, and I find it offensive when people try to pigeonhole me into one box, because I don’t fit in one box. And that messes up with their systems. But so be it. That’s their problem, not mine.
Esther Krakue 56:36
Okay, and lastly, Dr. Rakib.
Dr Rakib Ehsan 56:39
Well, firstly, I’d like to thank you for moderating the event. And I’d really like once again, I’d like to thank Dr. Remi Adekoya. And Calvin Robinson for joining me on the panel and engaging with my report in clearly in such depth, in terms of the BAME acronym, I think it should be consigned to the dustbin of history, I think, more broadly from a social policy point of view, but it was meant as a broader political discourse, I find it deeply unhelpful, I think, you know, particularly because you see the sort of attitudinal and socio economic differences between different non white groups in British society. And it’s very interesting, for example, in my PhD, when it came to looking at levels of democratic satisfaction, people of black African origin, probably nestled in a bit more neatly with South Asian groups, while black caribbeans, nestled in more with the white British population. So you can see, you can see those differences there. So I think the BAME acronym is not fit for purpose. I also think even you know, we’ve talked about, you know, this, this almost myth of black humanity, it’s in the sense that it masks a notable differences between people of black Caribbean and black, African origin. I think there’s similar dynamics in the South Asian community where there’s very clear differences between Indian people of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin in some ways. And crucially, I think even you talk about the white mainstream, you can see that different white ethnic groups when it comes to educational outcomes, for example, there are notable differences between different ethnic groups, I noticed that children of white Irish origin seem to be doing a little bit better than children of white British origin, when it comes to educational outcomes, and also expulsion rates, as well. So all in all, I think, ultimately, we need to have a more mature approach and more disaggregated approach when it comes to looking at a range of social economic outcomes. I do think we need to have a discussion about how culture plays a role in that we’ve talked a fair bit about educational outcomes, this and whether it’s skill based apprenticeships, vocational education, academic education, there’s no greater asset than having a stable family unit that drills into you that you must give 100% anything that you do in life. And while you will have failures is important to you know, get a good combat going and try and you know, have a dedicated, worth it ethic in any any sector of work that you enter in, or whatever type of educational route that you’d like to take. So all in all, I think these are the kinds of discussions that we should have that will ultimately lead to social betterment, and more a broad based prosperity across Britain’s multi ethnic religiously diverse society.
Esther Krakue 59:17
Thank you so much for that Dr. Rakib. And thank you so much to Dr. Remi and Calvin, for joining us. This has been such an amazing discussion and I hope to do it again soon.